Common law marriage is permitted in a minority of states. To be defined as a common law marriage within the states listed below, the two parties must: agree that they are married, live together, and hold themselves out as husband and wife. Common-law marriage is generally a non-ceremonial relationship that requires “a positive mutual agreement, permanent and exclusive of all others, to enter into a marriage relationship, cohabitation sufficient to warrant a fulfillment of necessary relationship of man and wife, and an assumption of marital duties and obligations.” Black’s Law Dictionary 277 (6th ed. 1990).Before modern domestic relations statutes, couples became married by a variety of means that developed from custom. These became the elements of a “common-law marriage,” or a marriage that arose by operation of law through the parties’ conduct, instead of through a ceremony. In many ways, the theory of common-law marriage is one of estoppel – meaning that parties who have told the world they are married should not be allowed to claim that they are not married in a dispute between the parties themselves.Currently, only 9 states (Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma, and Texas) and the District of Columbia recognize common-law marriages contracted within their borders. In addition, five states have “grandfathered” common law marriage (Georgia, Idaho, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania) allowing those established before a certain date to be recognized. New Hampshire recognizes common law marriage only for purposes of probate, and Utah recognizes common law marriages only if they have been validated by a court or administrative order.