Does Kansas recognize common law marriage?

Yes. Kansas recognizes common law marriage.

A “common law marriage” is a marriage entered into between two people under “common law” rules. Not all states allow people to become married at “common law” in that state. But every state recognizes a common law marriage entered into by two people in another state. A couple who has a “common law marriage” can only divorce by court order. There is no such thing as a “common law divorce.”

A person is not married at common law merely because they live together — no matter how many years they have lived together. Common law marriage requires “intent.” You can’t “fall into marriage.”

In Kansas, common law marriage is valid if:

1. The couple is of sufficient age and “mental capacity” (18 years old and they both understand what they are agreeing to do).

2. Both parties in the couple have a “current intent” to be married (not an intent to become married sometime in the future, but a “current intent to now be married”).

3. The couple “holds themselves out to the public as husband and wife” (that is, they don’t keep their marriage private and they both tell others that they are married, not intending it to be a joke, to cover up embarrassment that they are living together, or other similar statements).

Merely because a couple is not married does not mean that property and debt jointly accumulated during a non-marital relationship in Kansas cannot be divided. The Kansas courts have for over 100 years recognized that the courts can “equitably divide” property jointly obtained or intended to be jointly obtained by an unmarried couple.

In order to find out what are your rights, duties, and obligations in a marital OR non-marital relationship are, contact us or another qualified Kansas family lawyer to answer your questions in a confidential consultation.