Legal Memorandum: Common Law Marriages in MA

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

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Common-law marriage; Legally recognized
Jurisdiction: Massachusetts
Cited Cases: 37 N.E.2d 508; 366 N.E.2d 752; 82 N.E.2d 595
Cited Statutes: Mass. Gen. L. ch. 207, § 6
Date: 02/01/2001

In Massachusetts, cohabitation within the Commonwealth, in the absence of formal solemnization, does not create the relationship of husband and wife.  Davis v. Misiano, 373 Mass. 261, 366 N.E.2d 752 (1977).  The only exception is a statutory one:  if a marriage was entered into by one of the parties in good faith and if the parties continue to live together after the removal of the impediment to the validity of marriage, they will be held to be legally married from, and after, such removal.  Mass. Gen. L. ch. 207, § 6.

Massachusetts recognizes common law marriages if valid where they were entered into.  Panneton v. Panneton, 323 Mass. 477, 82 N.E.2d 595 (1948); Craddock’s Case, 310 Mass. 116, 37 N.E.2d 508 (1941).


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