Is a Common-Law Marriage recognized in South Dakota?

First, let's take a look at what exactly common-law marriage is. The definition of a common-law marriage is a union between two people that is considered valid by both partners but not formally recorded with a state, a religious registry, or celebrated in some type of formal civil or religious service.

The term is often used by cohabiting couples that share the same name, but choose not to formally register their relationship as a civil or religious marriage.

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DID YOU KNOW: South Dakota Used To Be The Divorce Capital Of The US?

Now for a common misconception regarding common-law marriage.

I am guessing you've undoubtedly heard the saying, if you've been living with someone for a period of time that exceeds 7-years, you're considered to be in a common-law marriage? That would be incorrect according to the people at NPR. The myth that common-law marriage kicks in after two people in a relationship have lived together for an extended period of time like 7-years is just that, a myth. And is simply not true.

So that begs the question, does common-law marriage even exist?

Yes, as of 2018, there are eight states in the U.S that currently recognize some form of common-law marriage through legislation. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but South Dakota is not one of them.

If you live in South Dakota and are hoping to be part of what is considered to be a common-law marriage, you are unfortunately are going to have to relocate to a state like Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Texas, Utah, or the District of Columbia.

You should also probably do your homework prior to packing up and moving if that's your goal because the requirements to establish a common-law marriage vary by state.

Getting back to the topic of common-law marriage and the state of South Dakota. While it's true that South Dakota does not recognize common-law marriages right now, it did at one time. Common-law marriage was recognized if it originated in this state and was consummated prior to 1959.

Here's something else you should know...

South Dakota will recognize a common-law marriage that has been validly entered into under the laws of another state.

Bottom line...

If you're a life-long resident of South Dakota and are hoping to be part of what is considered to be a common-law marriage after the year 1959, you're out of luck.

Here in South Dakota, according to the folks with the Swier Law Firm, you MUST obtain a marriage license and enter into a LEGAL marriage to officially be considered married in the eyes of the state. Simply living together and taking the same last name isn't going to cut it here in the Rushmore State.

Hey, look at the bright side, at least Iowa and Kansas aren't that far away.

Source: NPR/Swier Law Firm

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