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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

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: com·mon law mar·riage

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈkɑmən-lɑ ˈmɛrɪʤ/
  • British English – /ˈkɒmən-lɔː ˈmærɪʤ/

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 December 8, 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 December 8, 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. 8 Dec. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/common-law-marriage/>.