Legal Memorandum: Common Law Marriages in MI

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

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Common-law marriage; Legally recognized or abolished
Jurisdiction: Michigan
Cited Cases: 10 N.W.2d 895; 90 Mich. App. 787; 282 N.W.2d 481; 121 Mich. App. 585
Cited Statutes: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 551.2
Date: 02/01/2001

Michigan abolished common law marriage on January 1, 1957.  See Tigner v. Tigner, 90 Mich. App. 787, 282 N.W.2d 481 (1979); Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 551.2.  But common law marriages that began before that date are still valid.  There must have been an actual contract, the parties must have been able to contract, and the marriage must have been consummated according to the law at that time.  In re Brack’s Estate, 121 Mich. App. 585, 329 N.W.2d 432 (1982).

When parties who have agreed to live together as husband and wife in a state in which common law marriages are prohibited move to a state in which such marriages are recognized, a valid common law marriage exists without any renewal of agreement, and Michigan will recognize such a marriage, as it will recognize a valid common law marriage from another state.  Gamma v. Kettle, 10 N.W.2d 895, 306 Mich. 308 (1994).


Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)