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Kansas Common Law Marriage

What Is Common-Law Marriage in Kansas?

Common-law marriage is a term that describes a couple who can be recognized as married without conducting a formal marriage or performing a state or church wedding in Kansas. According to the Kansas State statutes, only common-law marriages conducted between persons less than age 18 are void under the law. All other common-law marriages conducted between consenting adults in the state are valid and legal.

The conditions for a common-law marriage to be recognized in Kansas include:

  • The couple must hold themselves publicly to be a husband and wife.
  • The couple must be consenting adults.
  • Both parties must not be blood relatives
  • There must be a present agreement by both parties to be married.

The couple must meet all the above requirements for their common-law marriage to be valid in the eyes of the state. The following materials can aid a common-law couple in proving their marriage:

  • Documents containing the use of similar last names
  • Relative witness attesting to the presence of the opinion of marriage.
  • Joint tax returns
  • Birth certificate indicating age
  • Evidence of a record of an agreement to marry.

Common-law marriages present an inexpensive means of getting married, without the hassle associated with organizing a formal marriage or the solemnization ceremony. Common-law marriages contracted in Kansas State attract the same rights as other formal marriages and, as such, can only be terminated by a court divorce proceeding.

Marriage in Kansas

In 2019, the marriage rate in Kansas was 5.3 marriages per 1,000. The above-stated figure represents the lowest marriage rate in the state since 1990. This figure is also lower than the federal average of 6.1 marriages per 1,000. The divorce rate in the state is calculated at 2.3 marriages per 1,000 residents and is slightly lower than the national average calculated at 2.7 marriages per 1,000.

Does Kansas Recognize Common-Law Marriages?

Kansas is one of the states in the country that recognizes the validity of common-law marriages contracted in the state. Kansas also recognizes common-law marriages contracted according to the guidelines of other jurisdictions. Common-law marriages in Kansas and other jurisdictions are considered legal as long as parties meet the three core requirements of the state. These three conditions can be summarized thus:

  • There must be the presence of the legal capacity to conduct the marriage: this includes the fact that both parties must not be married to another, neither can they be related by blood or adoption. In addition, the parties must be physically and mentally competent enough to marry and must not be a minor. Kansas does not recognize common-law marriages where the parties are less than age 18
  • There must be a mutual agreement to get married by both parties: The agreements do not have to be written but must be reflected in the couple's behavior, thus acknowledging marriage and their new status as a husband and wife.
  • Both parties must show themselves to the community as husband and wife: Persons around the couples must be able to recognize and testify to the existence of such marriage relationships between the couple. They must actively work to cultivate a reputation of being a married couple in the community.

Kansas law does not provide a time frame requirement for couples to live together as a precursor to being considered as married under common law. Once a common-law marriage has been contracted in Kansas, it is regarded as a valid marriage and may only be terminated by a divorce proceeding or the demise of one of the spouses.

What Is a Domestic Partnership in Kansas?

A domestic partnership is also known as a life partnership in Kansas and is a situation where unmarried couples are in a committed long-term relationship and are living together for an unspecified duration. Although most of the cities in Kansas do not provide legal recognition to domestic partnerships, two cities in Kansas give legal credence to domestic partnerships formed within the city jurisdiction, namely; the city of Lawrence and the city of Topeka.

To enter into a domestic partnership, the following are required:

  • The couple must not be minors
  • They must have the mental capacity to enter such a relationship
  • They must cohabit for an indefinite period,
  • They must have been committed to each other,
  • The couple must be financially interdependent,
  • They must not be married to another person,
  • The parties must not be related by blood,
  • The parties must not possess another domestic partner.

Couples intending to enter a domestic partnership in the city of Lawrence can do so by registering on the domestic partnership registration portal, after which there would be an assigned fee of $75.

Domestic partnerships that are to be formed in the city of Topeka must meet the following requirements -

  • Both partners must reside within the city limits of the City of Topeka, Kansas.
  • Both partners must share a permanent residence
  • Both partners must agree to be in a relationship of mutual interdependence
  • Neither partner can be currently married to a third individual or a member of a domestic partnership with a third individual
  • Both partners must be at least eighteen (18) years old and competent to contract
  • The partners may not be related by blood as defined by Kansas law
  • Both partners must agree to file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the City of Topeka.

Interested persons can register via the city of Topeka domestic partner registration portal, and the registration attracts a fee of $50.

What Is a Cohabitation Agreement in Kansas?

A cohabitation agreement in Kansas is a legal instrument that delineates personal, financial, and family guidelines in the event of a possible breakup or relationship termination. This includes sharing personal properties, debts, inheritances, health insurance, child custody, and child support. This instrument is important because unmarried couples and cohabitants in Kansas do not have the same rights as married persons, even in long-term relationships. As such, this legal instrument acts to protect all the parties in the event of an emergency or relationship termination.

Kansas Common-Law Marriage and Palimony

Division of assets, liabilities, and real estate properties after the termination of a relationship where the couple was never married is not recognized in the state of Kansas. Thus the only method for making claims after the termination of such a relationship is a cohabitation agreement. Outside of that, there are no legal means to pursue such claims in the state of Kansas.

What Are the Requirements for a Common-Law Marriage in Kansas?

To be seen by the law as in a common-law marriage, such a couple must meet three key requirements thus:

  • The couple must have the legal capacity to make a marriage agreement which includes;
    • Not being a minor
    • The couple must have the mental and physical capacity for marriage
    • Not being related by blood, which could incapacitate the parties from entering into the marriage.
  • Both parties must mutually agree to marry themselves
  • Both parties must present themselves to the world as a married couple

Fulfilling these three conditions above qualifies a couple to be granted marriage status under common law.

How Many Years Do You Have to Live Together for Common-Law Marriage in Kansas?

In Kansas, there are no stipulated time limitations or given timelines where a couple must live together to be married under common law. Adhering to the three key criteria is all that matters in the formation of such a marriage.

What Is an Informal Marriage in Kansas?

Informal marriage is the term used to describe common-law marriages under Texan law. The Texan state statute - Texas Code section 2.401 -2.405 describes informal marriages and their implications in the state of Texas. Kansas law does not explicitly recognize informal marriages. However, the principles of informal marriages under the Texas State Laws are similar to those of common-law marriages. Thus, one may conclude that informal marriages are also common-law marriages.

What Does It Mean to Be Legally Free to Marry in Kansas?

To be legally free to marry in Kansas, persons must have satisfied the criteria for getting married, such as the age limit, the mental and physical capacity required by law, and all other legal requirements needed in a state. Only then can a person be regarded as being legally free to marry.

What Is Intent to Marry in Kansas?

In Kansas, intent to marry simply describes the willingness and ability of a couple to get married within the state. Intention to marry is usually the step taken before the solemnization of a union in Kansas.

How Do You Prove Common-Law Marriage in Kansas?

Kansan couples can prove their common-law marriages in the state by providing documents, pictures, agreements, and witnesses attesting to the marriage's existence. The most potent form of proof is the common-law marriage affidavit issued by the state. Interested persons can use the following to prove a common-law marriage in Kansas:

  • Joint property ownership such as mortgage filing, property tax identification, or tenancy agreements
  • Joint banking details
  • Joint ownership of liabilities and properties
  • Physically documented obligations of the parties
  • Testamentary documents
  • Residential proof
  • Identification cards

Third-party websites provide an alternative to obtaining public vital records. These non-governmental platforms come with intuitive search tools that help simplify the process of accessing single or multiple records. However, record availability on third-party sites tends to vary because they’re independent of government sources. To obtain public marriage records, requesters may need to provide:

  • The full name of both spouses ((include first, middle, and last names)
  • The date the marriage occurred (month, date and year)
  • The location where the marriage occurred (city and county)

How Do You Prove Common-Law Marriage in Kansas After Death?

Proving common-law marriages after the death of a spouse may be done by providing the same documents used to prove common-law marriages when the spouse was alive. In addition, such a marriage can be proven effectively by the use of the common-law marriage affidavit issued by the state or by providing the testamentary document of the late spouse.

Do Common-Law Marriages Require a Divorce?

Common-law marriages in Kansas may be terminated legally through a divorce proceeding; otherwise, any of the individuals that remarry faces bigamy charges under Kansas law.

Does a Common-Law Wife Have Rights in Kansas?

Wives of common-law marriages in the state of Kansas receive the same entitlements and benefits given to wives of a formal marriage. Such rights include inheritance rights, rights to take decisions on behalf of the other, etc.

Can a Common-Law Wife Collect Social Security in Kansas?

A common-law wife can collect social security, especially when the claimant is older than 62 years. This is to ensure that wives are taken care of in the case of the demise of a spouse.

Are Common-Law Wives Entitled to Half in Kansas?

Property sharing under Kansas law may be shared fairly and equitably, but not necessarily equally. This allocation is usually done after a family court judge carries out a proper examination. However, parenting time and custody are shared 50/50 between parents after the termination of a marriage.

How Do You Get A Common-Law Marriage Affidavit in Kansas?

Retrieving a common-law marriage affidavit can be done by contacting the Kansas Human Resource Department or the Kansas Department of Administration. The common law marriage affidavit is to be filled and returned to the Kansas Human Resource Department located at:

Kansas Adjutant General's Department
State Human Resources Office
2722 SW Topeka Boulevard
Topeka, KS 66611
Leah Babcock - Support: (785) 646-0563

For inquiries, contact the Kansas Department of Administration at:

State Employee Health Benefits Program
109 SW 9th Street
Room 600
Topeka, KS 66612
Phone: (785) 368-6361

When Did Common-Law Marriage End in Kansas?

Common-law marriages are still very much legal in the state of Kansas and have not yet ended. Common-law marriages are created within the jurisdiction of the state and are protected by state statutes to continue to occur.

What Is Considered Common-Law Marriage in Kansas?

Common-law marriage depicts a couple identified as husband and wife whose marriage was conducted without going through a formal marriage procedure. These marriages are legal in Kansas and are regarded as a cheaper alternative form of marriage in the state.

Is a Domestic Partnership the Same As a Common-Law Marriage?

Domestic partnerships and common-law marriages differ solely based on their legality in Kansas. Common-law marriages are legal throughout the state, while a domestic partnership is only legal in two cities in Kansas.

Does the Federal Government Recognize Kansas Common-Law Marriages?

Common-law marriages contracted in Kansas are legal and are rightly recognized by the federal government as legal marriages. The federal government recognizes common-law marriages conducted in states where they are recognized, such as; South Carolina, Texas, New Hampshire, Utah, Rhode Island, Iowa, Montana, Colorado, District of Columbia, and Oklahoma.