Legal Memorandum: Common Law Marriages in CT

Issue: What is the status of common law marriage in Connecticut?

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Common-law marriage; Legally recognized
Jurisdiction: Connecticut
Cited Cases: 210 A. 2d 444; 165 Conn. 277; 170 A.2d 726; 316 A.2d 379; 22 Conn. Supp. 47; 152 Conn. 575; 119 Conn. 194; 148 Conn. 288; 334 A.2d 437
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 02/01/2001

Connecticut does not recognize common law marriage nor any legal consequences attached thereto.  McAnerney v. McAnerney, 165 Conn. 277, 334 A.2d 437 (1973); Hames v. Hames, 163 Conn. 588, 316 A.2d 379 (1972).[1]

Common law marriage was mentioned in Picaquadio v. Piacquadio, 22 Conn. Supp. 47, 150 A.2d 628 (Super. Ct. 1959).  In that case the evidence failed to establish, as the husband’s defense to an alimony claim, that the wife had entered into a common law marriage in New York.  Presumably, had he met the burden of proof, the common law New York marriage would have been recognized by the Connecticut court.  Apparently, full faith and credit requires Connecticut to give civil effect to common law marriages if valid in other states. 

Strict scrutiny is applied by the Connecticut courts examining marriages in other states.  Thus, marriage on a "dare" in New York by Connecticut residents without the intent to remain married was subject to annulment when the parties never cohabitated.  Davis v. Davis, 119 Conn. 194, 175 A.2d (1934).  And, the marriage of a Connecticut citizen in Italy to his niece, while valid there, was struck down as contrary to the public policy of Connecticut.  Catalano v. Catalano, 148 Conn. 288, 170 A.2d 726 (1961).


            [1] Note, however, that cohabitation can be evidence that the parties have been validly married.  Kowalczyk v. Kleszczynski, 152 Conn. 575,