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common-law marriage

Definition of Common-law Marriage

(noun) Legally, a marriage established by the duration of cohabitation, not a civil or religious ceremony.

Examples of Common-law Marriage

Common-law Marriage Pronunciation

  • IPA Pronunciation
    • American English
      • /ˈkɒmən lɔ ˈmɛrɪdʒ/
      • /ˈkɒmən lɑ ˈmɛrɪdʒ/
    • British English
      • /ˈkɒmən lɔː ˈmarɪdʒ/
  • Syllabification: (com·mon law mar·riage)

Usage Notes

  • Plural: common-law marriages
  • The legal requirements for a common-law marriage vary by location.
  • A type of affinity and cohabitation.
  • Variant spelling: common law marriage
  • Also called:
    • common-law (common law)
    • informal marriage
    • marriage by habit and repute
    • marriage in fact
    • sui juris marriage

Additional Information

Related Terms


Cite the Definition of Common-law Marriage

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “common-law marriage.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved October 17, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/common-law-marriage/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

common-law marriage. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/common-law-marriage/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “common-law marriage.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed October 17, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/common-law-marriage/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“common-law marriage.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/common-law-marriage/>.