Common-law marriage refers to a marriage existing by mutual agreement between a man and a woman, or by the fact of their cohabitation, without a civil or religious ceremony.

Common-law marriage is a type of marital union where two people are considered legally married without having obtained a marriage license or ceremony. The couple must have lived together for a certain period of time and held themselves out to others as a married couple.

In the psychology context, common-law marriage can refer to the study of the benefits and drawbacks of such unions, as well as the factors that contribute to their success or failure. Some examples of common-law marriage in different countries and jurisdictions include:

  • In the United States, some states recognize common-law marriages that meet certain criteria, such as cohabitation for a certain length of time and holding themselves out as married. For example, Colorado recognizes common-law marriage if the couple has lived together for at least six months and presents themselves as married.
  • In Canada, common-law partners are defined as two people who have lived together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. They are entitled to many of the same legal rights and benefits as married couples.
  • In Scotland, common-law marriage is recognized as a legal union, and couples can become legally married by cohabiting and presenting themselves as married for a period of time.

Research has shown that common-law marriages can be just as stable and committed as traditional marriages, but they may face unique challenges related to legal recognition and social stigma.

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