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What Is Common Law Marriage in Kentucky

What Is Common Law Marriage in Kentucky?

Common law marriage refers to a type of legal union where a couple is considered married without obtaining a marriage license or participating in a formal ceremony. Although common law marriage is not recognized in all states, Kentucky is one of the few states that still acknowledges this type of marital relationship. Understanding the concept of common law marriage in Kentucky is important for couples who may be living together but have not officially tied the knot. In this article, we will delve into the details of common law marriage in Kentucky, its requirements, and address some frequently asked questions.

Requirements for Common Law Marriage in Kentucky:

1. Cohabitation: Couples must live together as a married couple. Simply dating or having a romantic relationship while living separately does not constitute a common law marriage.

2. Mutual Agreement: Both partners must agree to be married and consider themselves husband and wife. Intent plays a crucial role in establishing a common law marriage.

3. Public Declaration: The couple must present themselves as married to others, such as introducing each other as husband and wife or filing joint tax returns.

4. Length of Cohabitation: There is no specific duration of cohabitation required in Kentucky. However, the longer a couple lives together, the stronger the case becomes for establishing a common law marriage.

5. Legal Age: Both partners must be of legal age to marry, which is 18 years old in Kentucky. If one or both parties are underage, parental consent is required.

Common Law Marriage FAQs:

Q: Is common law marriage still recognized in Kentucky?

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A: Yes, Kentucky is one of the few states that still recognizes common law marriage. However, as of July 2020, Kentucky ceased recognizing new common law marriages. Existing common law marriages, established before that date, are still legally recognized.

Q: How can I prove that I am in a common law marriage?

A: Evidence of a common law marriage can be established through various means, such as joint bank accounts, shared property ownership, joint leases or mortgages, or testimonies from family and friends attesting to your marital status.

Q: Do common law spouses have the same rights as legally married couples?

A: Yes, in Kentucky, common law spouses have the same legal rights and obligations as couples who obtained a marriage license and had a formal ceremony. This includes property rights, inheritance rights, and the ability to file joint tax returns.

Q: Can common law spouses get a divorce?

A: Yes, common law spouses must go through the same legal process to dissolve their marriage as legally married couples. The dissolution of a common law marriage requires filing for divorce and addressing issues such as property division, custody, and support, if applicable.

Q: Can I be common law married if I have been previously married?

A: No, if you are still legally married to someone else, you cannot enter into a common law marriage. You must first obtain a divorce or annulment to dissolve your existing marriage before entering into a common law marriage in Kentucky.


While common law marriage is not as common today as it once was, it still holds legal weight in Kentucky. Couples who meet the requirements of cohabitation, mutual agreement, public declaration, and legal age can be considered legally married under common law in the state. It is important to understand the implications and rights associated with common law marriage, as well as the process for dissolution, should the relationship end. If you have further questions or concerns, it is advisable to consult with a family law attorney who specializes in marriage and divorce laws in Kentucky.

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