Common law marriage, not so commonly understood in Oklahoma

Some misconceptions and the facts on Common Law Marriage in Oklahoma in 2010

Common law marriage has existed in Oklahoma at least since statehood.  And for at least that long, the legal definition and how it is created has been confused.

There has been a small but persistent minority trying to abolish common law marriage in Oklahoma for many years.  In 2005, a bill failed in the Oklahoma legislature that would have formally eliminated common law marriage; only marriage through the courthouse would have been allowed.

It can be wickedly difficult to prove a common law marriage, particularly if one is trying to so after one spouse has passed away.  The widely-held perception that a common law marriage requires 7 years of co-habitation is incorrect; there is no time limit.   But some of the factors that one does have to prove are:

1 The couple had to be legally competent to be married;

2 The couple had to agree to be husband and wife.

3 The couple has a permanent relationship.

4 The couple has an exclusive relationship.

5 The couple lives together as husband and wife.

6 The couple publicly considers themselves to be husband and wife.

It is a tall order to be sure to prove all of this.  Now, what Common law DIVORCE?  I will save that for another post.

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."