As a general rule, Arizona will not allow a common law marriage to be formed within the state. In fact, only a small handful of United States jurisdictions allow the formation of or recognize some form common law marriage, including: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina (for couples residing together prior to July 24, 2019), Texas, Utah, and the District of Columbia. See COLO. REV. STAT. ANN. § 14-2-109.5; IOWA. CODE ANN. §§ 252A.3 and 1A; KAN. STAT. §§23-2502 and 23-2714; MONT. CODE ANN. § 40-1-403; N.H. REV. STAT. ANN. § 457:39; TEX. FAM. CODE § 2.401; UTAH. CODE ANN. § 30-1-4.5
However, under certain circumstances, Arizona may recognize a common law marriage that was validly created in another state that recognizes such marriages. See ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 25-112. Arizona statute states: “Marriages valid by the laws of the place where contracted are valid in this state, except marriages that are void and prohibited by section 25-101.” Id. So, if a couple has resided in one of the states that do observe the formation of a common law marriage and that couple has met all of the requirements of a common law marriage, Arizona might give “full faith and credit” to that marriage and treat it as valid in Arizona. On the other hand, it also means that Arizona might allow divorce or legal separation proceedings on such a common law marriage.
It is important to note that even if a couple is not lawfully married, there might still be legal rights and protections for co-habiting individuals that arise under Arizona’s contract law scheme. Also, an unmarried couple that share one or more children in common might still have child custody and child support issues that could be addressed in an Arizona court of law. In some instances, there might even be visitation rights to a non-biological child based on the relationship that has formed with that child and that child’s best interests.
If you or a loved one has questions about family law matters in Arizona, whether they pertain to a common law marriage or a statutory marriage, we encourage you to contact Huffman-Shayeb Law, PLLC today to set up a consultation. Huffman-Shayeb Law, PLLC is a boutique law firm, situated in Phoenix, Arizona. The firm provides legal services in all areas of Arizona family law, and offers legal representation services in many of the surrounding areas outside of Maricopa County, such as Pinal County, Pima County, Yavapai County, and beyond!
Disclaimer: This publication is for educational and informational purposes only, and represents Huffman-Shayeb Law, PLLC’s understanding of the present state of Arizona law. This publication does not constitute legal advice or council, and should not be construed as a comment on the merits of any particular case. It should be noted that the laws and requirements of the State of Arizona, and other jurisdictions, may change at any time and that this information may not be complete or correct.