You’ve been living together for a long time. Years, in fact. Some of your friends have mentioned to you that since you’ve been together for seven or more years, you’re definitely considered common-law married which means you have all the same rights as couples who exchanged vows and received a marriage license, right?

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No. Not at all actually.

Which States Still Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Only a very few states in the United States actually recognize common law marriage and New York and Pennsylvania are not among those that do. Unless you live in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, or Utah, if you want marriage rights, you’re going to need an official ceremony and marriage license.

How Many Years Is Considered Common Law Marriage

Nobody is really sure where the number seven came from as far as the world deciding that was the number of years a couple needed to be together to be considered common-law married. Maybe it’s just because seven is supposed to be a lucky number, someone tossed it out, and it stuck.  In the states where common law marriage is recognized, each state has its own number of years a couple must be together before being recognized as being in a common-law marriage. Also, there are several factors that play into whether or not the states will allow a couple to legally be considered married when they’re actually not.

How Is Common Law Marriage Determined?

It isn’t just the number of years spent living under the same roof that seals the deal in common law recognizing states. According to Nolo, couples actually have to act like they’re married. Nolo says ways in which a couple can do that are by “opening up a joint bank account or signing a document that says you consider yourselves to be married. Using the term "spouse" when referring to each other in public.”

What Are the Benefits of Common Law Marriage?

Some people just aren’t into taking a walk down the aisle or signing a marriage paper, but for those who are recognized as being common-law married, they are eligible for all of the sale things that couples with a marriage license are – things such as inheritance rights and tax breaks.

Does New York Recognize Common Law Marriages From Other States?

New York did away with common law marriage in 1933 (which is puzzling because people still talk like its a thing and it hasn't been for almost 100 years) and does not recognize common-law marriages at all, even if you were granted common law marriage status in a state which does recognize it. If you live in Pennsylvania (which does not allow common law marriage anymore but used to), and if you were previously granted a common law marriage before January 1, 2005, Pennsylvania will still recognize your "marriage" as legal. 

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