Validity of Common Law Marriage in Arizona

Opinion Article: Why Common Law Marriages Should Be Recognized in Arizona

As a legal concept that has been around for centuries, common law marriage continues to be a topic of interest in family law. However, in Arizona, common law marriage is not recognized. This can lead to unique legal challenges for couples who consider themselves to be husband and wife without a formal marriage certificate. In this opinion article, we will argue why common law marriages should be recognized in Arizona and the benefits it would provide to couples.

History of Common Law Marriage

The concept of common law marriage dates back to the 12th century in England, where it was recognized as a legal concept. Common law marriage was an informal way for couples to establish a legal marriage without the need for a formal ceremony or marriage license. This concept then made its way to the United States, where it was recognized in some states and not others. Arizona, however, is one of the states that does not recognize common law marriage.

The Legal Implications of Not Being Recognized as Married

When a couple is not recognized as married in the eyes of the state, it can lead to significant legal challenges. For example, if one partner is hospitalized and unable to make decisions for themselves, the other partner may not have the legal authority to make medical decisions on their behalf. Additionally, if one partner passes away without a will, the other partner may not have any legal claim to their partner's assets or property.

The Benefits of Recognizing Common Law Marriages in Arizona

Recognizing common law marriages in Arizona would provide numerous benefits to couples. Firstly, it would allow couples to establish a legal marriage without the need for a formal ceremony or marriage license. This would help to remove any financial or logistical barriers that may prevent couples from getting married. Secondly, it would provide legal protections for couples, ensuring that they have the same rights and privileges as couples who have been legally married.

The Role of Legal Paraprofessionals

Legal paraprofessionals can provide much-needed guidance and support for couples who are in a common law marriage. They can help to navigate the legal system, providing advice on how to protect each other's rights and assets. This support is especially important for couples in Arizona, where common law marriage is not recognized, and legal protections for couples are limited.


In conclusion, recognizing common law marriages would be a significant step forward for Arizona. It would provide legal protections and benefits for couples who may not have the resources or legal documentation to get married formally. By recognizing common law marriages, Arizona can ensure that all couples have the same rights and privileges, regardless of their marital status.

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