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BeckyH, Paralegal
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 37
Experience:  18 years' family law experience. [This post should not be construed as legal advice.]
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Does state of california recognize common law ...

Resolved Question:

Does state of california recognize common law marriages of over 10 years?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  BeckyH replied 9 years ago.

Unfortunately, common law marriage is not recognized in California...regardless of the length of time that you have been together. If you are recognized in another state as being common law married, California will honor that. I don't know if that helps.

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Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Where can I get that information with the State of California? Lee Marvin and Michelle Travolta were considered common law and he had to pay her. I'm confused
Expert:  BeckyH replied 9 years ago.

Which states recognize common law marriage?

Common law marriage is recognized only in the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only)
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Utah

Here are the applicable sections of the California Family Code:

SECTION 300-310

300. (a) Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary. Consent alone does not constitute marriage. Consent must be followed by the issuance of a license and solemnization as authorized by this division, except as provided by Section 425 and Part 4 (commencing with Section 500). (b) For purposes of this part, the document issued by the county clerk is a marriage license until it is registered with the county recorder, at which time the license becomes a marriage certificate.

308. A marriage contracted outside this state that would be valid
by the laws of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was contracted
is valid in this state.

I'm sorry I don't have better news. You can file a civil suit to divide property if that is necessary.

Also, the case you refer to (Marvin v. Marvin, 557 P.2d 106, 112 (Cal. 1976) is a palimony suit, not common law. I'm not sure that is still good law. This site has information on palimony:


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