It is a misconception that a common law marriage is created simply by two parties living together for a certain period of time (i.e., 7 years). To the contrary, in Montana, a person seeking to establish a common law marriage must show that:
- That the parties are competent to enter marriage;
- That there was assumption of a marital relationship by mutual consent and agreement;
- That they cohabited; and
- That they acquired the reputation, character and status of marriage in public.
In Montana, there is a rebuttable presumption that a man and woman “deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.” § 26–1–602(30), MCA. In fact, the law favors finding a marriage.
Once parties have entered into a common law marriage, however, it cannot be undone. There is no such thing as a common law divorce. Parties who have entered marriage must seek a dissolution of marriage the same way as other married couples wishing to end their marriage. For more information about common law marriage, visit: http://courts.mt.gov/library/topic/common_law_marriage.