Spouses and Partners

Your Friendly Guide To Common Law Marriage Washington

Common Law Marriage Washington

Are you looking for detailed info on common law marriage Washington? How many years do you have to live together for common law marriage in Washington? Is it similar to the concept of Domestic Partnership in Washington? You have come to the right place. 

Well, you are not the only one asking these questions. It is your right to know if your marriage is valid under the state of Washington. So, without much dilly-dallying, let’s find out:

  1. What is common law marriage in Washington state?
  2. How long is common law marriage in Washington state?

Furthermore, we will get answers to more questions on common law marriage!

Why Is A Primary Idea About Common Law Marriage Important?

Why Is A Primary Idea About Common Law Marriage Important?

It is important because the validity of your common law marriage could affect the following.

  • Your inheritance rights.
  • The estate-planning benefits.
  • Your Social Security benefits.
  • The tax treatment.
  • Your employment benefits,
  • Procedure for annulment of marriage,
  • The procedure of how to file for divorce.
  • Your alimony payments.
  • Asset division post-divorce.

And so much more.

Covering Basics For You: What Is A Common Law Marriage?

A common law marriage is what we also call an informal marriage. It does not involve any formal legal steps in the procedure. For example, there is no need to get a marriage license or hold a ceremony.

What Does Happen In A Common Law Marriage?

What Does Happen In A Common Law Marriage?

Here, when people intend to be married, they start to live together. However, they do not hold a social ceremony. Rather they only publicly present themselves as a married couple.

But, you do have to live in a state that recognizes common-law marriages.

A couple living in a common law marriage has to fulfill the state’s criteria for a legal common law marriage.

Once they meet these conditions, the law of their state recognizes the arrangement. Additionally, they also get all the benefits of a married couple. They share the same responsibilities as well.


These are the rights that a common-law marriage allows.

  • Inheritance.
  • Social Security benefits.
  • Employment benefits.
  • Tax treatment.
  • The right to ask for property division or alimony after termination of marriage.

Once couples prove that they meet the requirements for a common-law marriage, they have access to these rights.

Therefore, a common law marriage is legally similar to any other marriage.

What Is Common Law Marriage In The Washington State?

What Is Common Law Marriage In The Washington State?

A common law marriage Washington is the same legal arrangement. Here,  two people live together and enjoy the status of being married.

They share all marital duties and responsibilities. Additionally, they also get public recognition as that of a married couple. 

However, there is no involvement of a marriage license or social ceremony.

Which States Recognize Common Law Marriage?

The union/informal marriage so far enjoys recognition in Columbia and a couple of other US states. 

Montana, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, South Carolina, and lastly, Utah recognize common-law marriage.

Thus, it is a common legal alternative to citizens who seek formal recognition. Moreover, it comes without the traditional requirements of marriage or its expenses.

The states that recognize common law marriage provide the following benefits to a couple in a common law marriage.

Some more benefits are as follows. 

  • Taking emergency medical decisions for their partner.
  • Inheriting assets.
  • Receiving spousal support.
  • Gaining tax benefits, and
  • Having property rights.

Does Washington Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Does Washington Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage Washington does not have state recognition. However, it may be different if a common-law marriage takes place another state. 

If it takes place according to the US Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, Washington state may recognize it.

What Are The Alternatives To Common Law Marriage Washington?

What Are The Alternatives To Common Law Marriage Washington?

Residents who want alternatives to traditional or common-law marriages have the options of domestic partnerships available to them. It allows them to create cohabitation agreements in Washington.

What is a Domestic Partnership In The State Of Washington?

A Washington domestic partnership is what we also call a state-registered domestic partnership.

It is legal commitment where two individuals share a life together without being legally married.

Additionally, couples under domestic partners enjoy the same treatment as married spouses. They have same benefits, rights, immunities, and privileges. 

However, they have to honor federal regulations.

What Are The Limitations Of A Domestic Partnership in Washington?

Well, there aren’t too many, but domestic partnership in Washington does unfortunately come with some limitations. Couples are not to file for federal tax returns jointly or as a married couple under this arrangement. Thus, if you are looking into it, domestic partnership is not exactly the same as marriage, even today.

How To Create A Domestic Partnership?

Individuals must complete and have a notarization of their partnership. 

Next, they have to fill up the Declaration of State Registered Domestic Partnership form. They have to then submit it to the Washington Secretary of State.

This is where they have to send the filled-out form:

  • Secretary of State
  • Corporate Division
  • 801 Capital Way S
  • P.O. Box 40234
  • Olympia, WA 98504-0234

How Long Is Common Law Marriage In Washington State?

How Long Is Common Law Marriage In Washington State?

In Washington state, the government does not recognize common law marriages. Instead, the citizens have the choice to enter into domestic partnerships.

These partnerships last as long as the couples want them to. Thus, the duration depends on the decision of the partners to continue.

Additionally, they may also terminate the partnership.

How Can Partners Terminate Common Law Marriage Washington?

Since the Washington state does not recognize common law marriages, the option to terminate the domestic partnership is on the table. 

They can terminate by filing for a termination in a state-recognized court. If they marry each other, it automatically ends the partnership. 

According to state data from November 2023, 4565 domestic partnerships are currently active in Washington state.

What are the Requirements for a Common Law Marriage Washington?

There are no requirements for this kind of a marriage as the state does not recognize it. However, for a domestic partnership, these are the requirements.

  • Partners to live in a common residence.
  • One of the partners have to be 62 years or more. The other has to have a minimum age of 18.
  • Neither partner is a member of another domestic partnership or married to another.
  • Both partners are in a domestic partnership with consent.
  • Both partners do not bear familial relations with each other.

How Many Years Should Partners Live Together?

For Washington Common Law Marriage, there are no such requirements that we are aware of. This is because common law marriage has no legal recognition in the state. However, for other states that do recognize it, the minimum term of living together should be around 10 years. 

To Conclude

With this, we reach an end to our article on common law marriage Washington. In a common law marriage (or a domestic partnership), you get treated like a married couple even without a formal wedding.

Therefore, you can enjoy things like healthcare together, social security benefits, and all of that. However, you may have to prove your relationship to access these perks. Do let us know if we covered all bases or if we have missed out on any.

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Debkanya Bhattacharya
Debkanya is a lawyer turned writer. With an experience of 3 years, she is your go-to source for all things law. She has a soft corner for the US and international section. When the weekend arrives, you'll find her reading up on politics, Austen, or travel blogs over a cup of coffee.

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