Can I get a common law divorce?

Although Kansas recognizes “common law marriage,” there is no such thing as a “common law divorce.” A married couple — whether that couple has a licensed marriage or a common law marriage — can only divorce by court order granting them a “divorce.” If a couple who married at common law does not obtain a “divorce decree,” they are still married. And if one of them remarries, that person can be charged with bigamy.

Not all states allow people to become married at “common law.” But every state recognizes a common law marriage entered into by two people in another state. And every state allows those couples married at common law to obtain a divorce under the laws of the state in which the divorce is filed.

In Kansas, common law marriage is valid if:

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

2. The couple has a “current intent” to be married (not an intent to become married sometime in the future).

3. The couple “holds themselves out to the public as husband and wife” (that is, they don’t keep their marriage private).