Common Law

Common Law marriage is one of the most misunderstood areas in domestic relations. Most people believe that after a certain amount of time, they are automatically considered married in the eyes of the Alabama law. This is not the case. Alabama law does recognize common-law marriage, it requires more than time and living together.

The requirements for common-law marriage in Alabama are:

(1). Both parties must have the capacity to marry. This means that the parties must be mentally competent and of legal age to marry (over 18 or over 14 with parental consent).

(2). Present agreement or mutual consent to enter into marriage. In order for a common-law marriage to be valid, the parties must  intend to be married..

(3). Public recognition of the marriage. The parties must hold themselves out as married.

(4). Consummation or Cohabitation. The parties must live together as husband and wife and engage in sexual intercourse. There is no requirement regarding the amount of time a couple lives together.

A common-law marriage is a valid legal marriage with all the same rights has couples who were married by a justice of the peace or a clergyman.