common-law marriage

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1 A marriage recognized as valid at common law although not complying with the usual requirements for marriage. Such marriages are only recognized today if (1) they are celebrated outside England and there is no local form of marriage reasonably available to the parties or (2) they are celebrated by military chaplains in a foreign territory (or on a ship in foreign waters), and one of the parties to the marriage is serving in the Forces in that territory. The form of marriage is a declaration that the parties take each other as husband and wife.

2 Loosely, the situation of two unmarried people living together as husband and wife (see cohabitants). It is often believed that legal rights attach to such a relationship. This is not the case.

Subjects: Law.

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