Common Law Marriage in Arizona: Can it be done?
Clandestine marriage, sui juris marriage (of one’s own right), informal marriage, common law marriage, marriage by habit and repute. Whatever you want to call such arrangements, they all lack at least one of three very important elements required by Arizona law – ceremony, solemnization, and license.
Common Law Marriage Created in Arizona: Invalid
Holding yourselves out to be man and wife and raising a family: that’s what most people consider a common law marriage. So long as the couple is of the age of majority and the arrangement is consensual, there is nothing unlawful about such a relationship in Arizona. But that arrangement is still an invalid marriage when created in this state.
No matter how long the couple stays together, or how many children they raise, their relationship is not recognized as a valid marriage for taxes, property ownership, inheritances, contracts, divorce, legal separation, and so on.
Common Law Marriage Created Elsewhere – Valid
Only when a common law marriage was lawfully contracted in another state will Arizona recognize the marriage. A marriage validly created in Colorado, for example, is valid in Arizona.
You may think this result odd or unfair, but it actually stems from the “full faith and credit clause” of the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, a valid common law marriage created in one state (CO) must be recognized as valid in another state (AZ).
Assuming the marriage is not void and prohibited by ARS § 25-101, If you and your spouse lived in a common law marriage state, met all of that state’s requirements for a valid marriage, and later relocated to Arizona, then your marriage is valid here as well.