During the 2016 session of the Alabama legislature,
House Bill 332 was introduced by Representative Mike Jones, Jr., of Alabama’s 92nd District. The bill was signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley on May
3, 2016, and it effectively abolishes common law marriage in Alabama.
Specifically, the new law states that “no common-law marriage may
be entered into in this state on or after January 1, 2017.” Valid
common-law marriages, entered into before January 1, 2017, shall continue
to be valid, however.
Alabama is one of the last states to recognize common law marriage, as
it had been abolished in most other states. A common law marriage is different
from a traditional marriage in that it does not require a couple to have
a ceremony officiated by a public or religious official. It also does
not require a couple to have a marriage license. In the past, Alabama
law has simply required that two individuals have a present agreement
to enter into a marriage relationship to the exclusion of other relationships
and that they hold themselves out to the public as being married.
The new law represents a sweeping change for the State of Alabama.