Common Law Marriage

Common-law marriages may occur in some states when individuals agree to reside together as husband and wife and publicly hold themselves out as husband and wife without a marriage ceremony and certificate.

Couples in a common-law marriage have the same rights as other married couples, including the right to divorce.

In Maryland, common-law marriages have never been permitted.  Maryland law requires a religious or civil ceremony to create a valid marriage.

However, if a common-law marriage is established in a foreign jurisdiction which accepts such marriages as valid, such as the District of Columbia or Colorado, Maryland will recognize that marriage as a valid marriage.

For example, if a valid common-law marriage exists in the District of Columbia or Colorado and the couple later resides in Maryland, the foreign common-law marriage will be recognized as a valid marriage under the laws of Maryland.