one separate .” common law marriage L a w

one separate .” common law marriage L a w


Forum 1 (Modules 1 & 2):

2. Wendy and Larry lived together for many years. They opened a joint checking account,  owned their home in both their names and shared everyday expenses together. While many people assumed they were married, neither Wendy nor Larry thought of themselves as being married. They viewed themselves as just two people in love who lived together. Assuming you live in a state that allows common law marriage, please explain whether or not we can find for a valid common law marriage. From a biblical perspective, discuss whether common law marriage is consistent with biblical principles. Use cited Scripture to inform your response. Fully explain your answers.

C L 

To determine if common law marriage applies to this situation we must look at what is generally required for a common-law marriage.  First, a common-law marriage is generally created by the conduct of the people involved, not by a formal marriage ceremony.  Aside from that, the following would be required:

  • intent to marry
  • appearing to others of the public as being married
  • cohabitation

Mary E. Wilson, Family Law for the Paralegal 72 (3rd ed. 2017).

In this particular case, Wendy and Larry do cohabitate, but other aspects are missing.  While others in the public may assume that they are married Wendy and Larry have not presented themselves to be as such, they also have never thought of themselves as being married.  Sharing a checking account and living expenses may be looked at by some as fitting what may occur in a marital relationship, however, that isn’t a requirement to prove common law marriage nor is it unusual in modern times for this to occur outside of marriage. 

From a biblical perspective, my default answer would be to say that common-law marriage would not be consistent with biblical teachings, however; the best defense of that answer that I could find is Romans 13:1(HCSB) “Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.”  My reasoning for this verse is that really the main thing that separates common-law marriage from traditional marriage is that the couple did not follow the legal/governmental procedure to declare their marriage. 




           If Wendy and Larry live in a common law state such as Colorado, a common law marriage could be recognized. In Colorado, any common law marriage contracted on or after September 1, 2006, is valid, if the necessary provisions are met. The provisions are as follows: both parties are 18 years or older, and the marriage is not prohibited by Colorado statute § 14-2-110. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-2-109.5 (2006)

           One could assume that Wendy and Larry are both over the age of 18 years old since they have been living together for many years. Also, it does not appear that a common law marriage between the two would be illegal when referring to Colorado statute §14-2-110. Some of the prohibited marriages include, a marriage prior to a dissolution of an earlier marriage or civil union, a marriage between an ancestor/descendant, brother/sister, or where there is half/whole blood, and a marriage between an uncle/aunt and niece/nephew. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-2-110 (2018) Again, it does not appear that Larry or Wendy are in any of those situations.  

           From a biblical perspective, common law marriage is not consistent with biblical principles. In the very first book of the Bible we are told that a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife; thus, becoming ONE flesh. Genesis 2:24 It is also mentioned again in Matthew 19:4-5. Jesus continues on to say in Matthew 19:6, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined, let no one separate.” Common law marriage is not a marriage from God; it is a legal paperwork marriage. It is something that helps people in this world, but not the next. The only marriage that is consistent with biblical principles is a ceremonial marriage that recognizes God at the center.


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