August 5, 2011
Common Law Marriage in RI
Common law marriage, occasionally referred to as “Sui Juris” marriage; is an informal unions of interpersonal status which is legally recognized in specific jurisdictions as being valid even though no legally recognized marriage ceremony has been performed. This also means that no civil marriage contract has been entered into a civil registry. In Rhode Island, Common-law marriages are legally binding in some jurisdictions, yet have no legal consequence in others. The validity and practice of a common law marriage is based upon which jurisdictions recognize them, which can differ from place to place. Common-law marriages may be recorded in public records, though they are not licensed by government authorities, nor are they solemnized before witnesses in a wedding ceremony.
Cohabitation alone fails to constitute common-law marriage in Rhode Island, because both parties must present themselves to the world as spouses, and that includes mutual consent. When courts review a common law marriage to determine its validity, it considers a totality of circumstances rather than specific factors. Establishing a common law marriage in Rhode island is akin to amassing a variety of factors together in order to achieve recognition, rather than focusing on a specific factor to validate the union.