Despite what some people believe, a common-law marriage does not simply depend on how long the partners have lived together. Most states do not even require a specific period of time for cohabitation. Instead, most require that partners live together for a considerable amount of time, hold each other out as a married couple and have the intent to legally marry each other some time in the future. In a valid common-law marriage, each spouse is given the same amount of legal treatment he or she would receive in a legal marriage, which also means the couple must go through a legal divorce to end the relationship.
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