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Common Law Marriage in Kansas: Yes or No?

If you're wondering whether you have a common law marriage in Kansas, the answer might be "no." Learn more in this expert guide.

evident Editorial Team
March 13, 2024
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Common law marriage in Kansas is legally recognized, making it a standout amongst a select group of states.

However, this topic often comes shrouded in myths and misconceptions. Many believe that merely living together for a specific duration bestows upon a couple the same legal status as a ceremonial marriage, but the reality is more nuanced.

This guide will traverse the intricacies of common law marriage in Kansas, dispelling myths and shedding light on this often misunderstood topic.

Key Takeaways

What is Common Law Marriage in Kansas?

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While common law marriage in Kansas isn't as straightforward as obtaining a marriage license and engaging in a formal ceremony, it's still recognized.

Historically, common law marriage served to provide legal recognition to couples who cohabited and presented themselves as married but who, for various reasons, didn't or couldn't undergo a formal wedding ceremony.

This form of union also appealed to those who, due to cultural, financial, or personal reasons, chose to bypass the formalities associated with traditional marriage.

Establishing a common law marriage in Kansas hinges on three elements that must be concurrently present:

  1. Actual and Mutual Agreement: Both parties must have a mutual and present agreement to be considered husband and wife. This agreement is the cornerstone of establishing a common law marriage in Kansas.
  2. Continuous Cohabitation: Couples should engage in continuous cohabitation, living together as a married couple. However, there's no specific duration required to validate the marriage.
  3. Public Declaration: The couple must publicly declare their marital status, consistently presenting themselves as a common law married couple to family, friends, and the public.

Does Kansas have Common Law Marriage?

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Yes, Kansas recognizes common law marriages, making Kansas one of the few states in the U.S. that recognizes common law marriages.

Other states recognizing common law marriage include Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, Iowa, Rhode Island, and Colorado.

Couples in a common law marriage in Kansas enjoy the same rights and legal protections as those ceremonially married. Kansas will also recognize a common law marriage recognized in other states.

By contrast, states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, and California  don't recognize common law marriage (some recognize old but not new common law marriages).

How to Prove Common Law Marriage

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Proving a common law marriage in Kansas can be difficult, especially when there are legal issues involved, such as property division, child support, or divorce. There is no common law marriage "contract" that would readily prove the marriage.

Here are ways to substantiate your claim:

  • Declaration of Marriage: While not mandatory, a declaration of marriage can be filed with the county court clerk, serving as convincing evidence of the union.
  • Joint Financial Documents: Joint bank accounts, shared assets, and joint income tax returns can indicate a financial interdependence typical of a marital relationship.
  • Public Representation: Evidence where the couple has presented themselves as married, including wearing wedding bands or having joint memberships, can be pivotal.

Legal Implications of Kansas Common Law Marriage

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A Kansas common law marriage is recognized and treated with the same legal respect as ceremonial marriages.

This recognition ensures that partners in a valid common law marriage can confidently navigate various aspects of life, from financial dealings to family matters, with the assurance of legal backing.

Couples must undergo formal legal divorce proceedings, common law divorce, in case of a separation. Each partner's rights are meticulously considered to ensure a fair outcome.

Here is a concise breakdown of key legal aspects associated with a common law marriage entered into validly in Kansas:

  • Legal Recognition: Treated similarly to ceremonial marriages.
  • Divorce Proceedings: Required in case of separation for a court-determined divorce.
  • Family Court Involvement: Handles property division, child custody, child support, and alimony.
  • Legal Rights and Protections: Afforded to both partners.

Family courts play a pivotal role in ensuring that the rights of both parties are upheld. They assess the couple's financial, property, and familial circumstances to make informed decisions on asset division, child custody, and support arrangements.

Why Choose Common Law Marriage Over Formal Marriage?

Some couples gravitate towards common law marriage in Kansas instead of the traditional ceremonial route. But what drives this preference?

Here are some reasons why couples might choose common law marriage over a formal one:

Simplicity and Spontaneity

For some, the idea of a big wedding can be overwhelming with all its planning, expenses, and ceremonies. A valid common law marriage offers a more straightforward, spontaneous way to commit to each other without fanfare.

Cultural or Personal Beliefs

Some couples feel their commitment doesn't need societal rituals to validate it. Their bond, understanding, and mutual agreement to enter a common law marriage are enough for them.

Financial Considerations

Weddings can be expensive. Couples can avoid the traditional cost of a marriage ceremony by choosing a common law marriage and instead use those funds for other joint ventures or experiences.


Common law marriages can be more private and personal. There's no need for public announcements, guest lists, or ceremonies. The commitment remains a personal matter between the two individuals.


For those unsure about the legal implications and responsibilities tied to formal marriage, common law marriage offers a chance to experience marital life without the immediate legal bindings.

Inclusivity for Same-Sex Couples

Kansas, one state that recognizes common law marriages, provided an avenue for same-sex couples to validate their relationship even before the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage.

Avoiding the Marriage "Label"

Some couples prefer not to label their relationship under the conventional terms of "married" but still want to enjoy the benefits that come with it.

Disproving Common Law Marriage

Disproving a common law marriage involves demonstrating the absence of one or more elements.

Evidence of separate lives or no sexual relationship, lack of mutual agreement, or absence of public declaration can be crucial.

Seeking expert help from an experienced family law attorney or divorce attorney is often necessary, especially one offering free consultation.

FAQs About Kansas Common Law Marriage

How long do you have to be together for common law marriage in Kansas?

There isn't a specific time requirement for a couple to be considered in a common law marriage in Kansas. Instead, Kansas common law marriage requirements focus on a mutual agreement to be married, continuous cohabitation, and public declaration of the marriage.

What qualifies as common law marriage in Kansas?

Under Kansas law, a common law marriage is qualified by three main criteria:

  • A mutual and present agreement to be married.
  • Continuous cohabitation as a married couple.
  • A public declaration of the marital relationship.

What is the common law divorce in Kansas?

Common law divorce in Kansas involves formal legal divorce proceedings similar to ceremonial marriages, where the court will handle matters like property division, child custody, child support, and alimony.

Does Kansas recognize domestic partners?

Kansas does not have a statewide recognition of the closely related concept of domestic partnerships, and the rights accorded to domestic partners may vary locally; however, common law marriage is a recognized form of relationship that provides a pathway for couples to have a legally recognized union.

Summing It Up

So, does Kansas recognize common law marriage? Yes, making it one of the few states that does.

Understanding common law marriage in Kansas is essential for couples considering this path or those seeking to understand their legal standing.

An experienced family law attorney can provide tailored advice, ensuring that your rights are protected, and responsibilities understood in the landscape of common law marriage in Kansas.