Everything You Need to Know About Common Law Marriage in Arkansas

Discover what you need to know about common law marriage in Arkansas.

re you in a committed relationship but not legally married? If so, you might wonder if your relationship qualifies as a common law marriage in the state of Arkansas. In this guide, we’ll delve into the history of common law marriage, its legal implications, and whether it’s recognized in Arkansas or not. We’ll also explain the process of proving common law marriage and share some practical tips for those considering this unconventional option.

 History of Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage has its roots in English common law, which allowed couples to enter into a marriage without a formal ceremony or documentation. Settlers brought this concept to the United States, and it was gradually adopted in various states. While many states recognized common law marriages at some point in time, many of them started to put an end to this practice in the 20th century. Today, only a handful of U.S. states still recognize common law marriage.

How Common Law Marriage Differs from Legal Marriage

A legal marriage (also referred to as a ceremonial marriage) involves a formal ceremony, issuance of a marriage license, and registration with the state. Common law marriage, on the other hand, does not require any formal ceremony or government registration. Common law spouses are considered legally married if they meet specific criteria and conditions set forth by the state.

 Common Law Marriage in Arkansas

Currently, common law marriage is _not recognized_ in Arkansas. In 2001, the Arkansas Supreme Court declared that common law marriages are no longer valid, and couples in Arkansas must satisfy the requirements of a ceremonial marriage to be considered legally married.

Although common law marriage itself is not valid in Arkansas, the state _does_ recognize common law marriages legally established in other states.

Proving Common Law Marriage in Arkansas

To prove an existing common law marriage valid in a state that recognizes it, the couple typically needs to meet the following criteria:

  • Cohabitation: The couple must live together as husband and wife.
  •  Mutual Agreement: Both partners must have a mutual understanding and agreement to live as husband and wife.
  •  Holding Out: The couple must present themselves as being married to the community and use a shared last name or refer to each other as husband or wife.

 Legal Implications, Rights, and Obligations of Common Law Marriage

Couples in a recognized common law marriage are entitled to the same rights and subject to the same obligations as legally married couples. This includes inheritance rights, social security benefits, pension benefits, and tax liabilities. When it comes to ending a common law marriage, the couple must go through the same divorce process as legally married spouses.

You can also read Legal Options for Dealing with a Sexually Disinterested Spouse.

Practical Tips for Couples Considering Common Law Marriage

As common law marriage is not recognized in Arkansas, couples should:

  • Research any states that allow common law marriage if they wish to pursue this route.
  • Consider getting a legally binding marriage in Arkansas or another state with a simple, low-cost ceremony to gain legal recognition and protection for their relationship.
  •  Draft and execute a written agreement outlining their understanding of how their property and assets will be divided in case their relationship ends to avoid legal complications.


Common law marriage is not recognized in Arkansas, but couples can still pursue this option by researching and satisfying the conditions of states that do recognize it. Couples in a common law marriage are entitled to all the same rights and obligations as legally married spouses, so having legal protection is important. Finally, if you’re considering becoming common law spouses, make sure you understand the legal implications and take steps to protect yourselves.