Does Nevada Have Common Law Marriage?

Nevada, known for its vibrant nightlife and iconic Las Vegas strip, is often associated with celebrations of love and commitment.

However, when it comes to marriage, the Silver State takes a different approach than some other parts of the United States.

One question that frequently arises is does Nevada have common law marriage?. In this article, we’ll delve into the topic to clarify the current state of common law marriage in Nevada.

What is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage is a type of marital union established by the cohabitation of a couple without a formal marriage ceremony or a state-issued marriage license.

Instead, couples in common law marriages are considered legally married based on their mutual intent to be married and the public recognition of their relationship as such.

Does Nevada Have Common Law Marriage?

Nevada does not recognize common law marriage.

Common law marriage is a type of marriage that is recognized in some states in the United States, where a couple can be considered legally married without obtaining a marriage license or going through a formal ceremony.

Instead, they establish a marriage by living together as a married couple and presenting themselves to the community as married.

However, Nevada abolished common law marriage in 1943. Since then, the state only recognizes marriages that are formed through obtaining a valid marriage license and having a formal marriage ceremony performed by an authorized officiant.

The Relevance of Previous Common Law Marriages

It’s important to clarify that Nevada’s abolition of common law marriage in 1943 does not invalidate common law marriages that were formed before that date.

Common law marriages legally established in Nevada prior to 1943 are still considered valid under state law.

Out-of-State Common Law Marriages

For couples who established a common law marriage in another state where it is recognized, Nevada will generally acknowledge the validity of that marriage.

Nevada follows the legal principle known as “comity,” which means that it respects the legal decisions and judgments made by other states.

As long as the common law marriage was validly formed in a state that recognizes such unions, Nevada will likely consider it valid as well.

Important Considerations

While Nevada does not recognize common law marriage, it’s crucial for couples to understand the implications of not having a formal marriage.

Some benefits and protections associated with legal marriage, such as spousal rights, inheritance, and tax advantages, may not apply to unmarried cohabiting partners.

If couples wish to enjoy the legal benefits and protections that come with marriage, they must obtain a marriage license from the county clerk’s office and have a formal wedding ceremony performed by an authorized officiant.

Requirements for a Valid Marriage in Nevada

1. Age:

Both parties must meet a minimum age requirement to marry legally in Nevada. Generally, both individuals should be at least 18 years old to marry without any additional requirements. However, there are exceptions:

a. Minors aged 16 or 17: If either party is between the ages of 16 and 17, they can marry with parental consent.

A parent or legal guardian must accompany the minor to the county clerk’s office and provide written consent for the marriage. In certain cases, a court order may be required if parental consent cannot be obtained.

b. Minors under 16: Individuals under the age of 16 cannot legally marry in Nevada, even with parental consent or court approval.

2. Consent:

Consent is a fundamental aspect of marriage. Both parties must willingly and freely consent to marry each other. Marriages entered into under duress or fraudulently induced are considered voidable.

3. Capacity:

For a marriage to be valid, both parties must have the mental capacity to understand the nature of the marriage contract and the legal implications of the union. A person lacking the mental capacity to comprehend the commitment they are making cannot legally enter into marriage.

4. No Prohibited Relationships:

Nevada law prohibits certain blood relationships from marrying each other. Marriages between close relatives such as siblings, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, or aunt/uncle and niece/nephew are generally not allowed. Marriages between first cousins are legal in Nevada.

5. Valid Marriage License:

Before getting married, couples must obtain a valid marriage license from a county clerk’s office in Nevada.

Both parties must appear in person at the county clerk’s office, fill out the necessary paperwork, and pay the required fee. The marriage license is typically issued on the same day and becomes valid after a waiting period, usually 24 hours.

6. Solemnization:

After obtaining a marriage license, the couple must have the marriage solemnized to make it legally binding.

The solemnization is the formal ceremony in which the couple exchanges vows and pledges their commitment to each other.

A marriage can be solemnized by an authorized officiant, which includes religious ministers, priests, rabbis, authorized public officials, and civil marriage commissioners.

7. Witness(es):

Nevada law requires the presence of at least one witness during the marriage ceremony. The witness(es) must be of legal age (usually 18 or older) and capable of understanding the ceremony’s significance. The witness(es) will sign the marriage license along with the couple and the officiant.

Exceptions for Common Law Marriages from Other States

While Nevada does not recognize its own common law marriages, it does have provisions that address the recognition of common law marriages that were legally established in other states.

These exceptions are based on the principle of “Full Faith and Credit,” as outlined in the U.S. Constitution (Article IV, Section 1). This legal principle requires states to honor the valid laws and court decisions of other states, including marriages.

  1. Common Law Marriage from States Where It’s Recognized: If a couple entered into a common law marriage in a state that legally recognizes and permits such unions, Nevada will generally honor the marriage as valid. This means that they will be considered legally married in Nevada, even though they did not have a formal ceremony or obtain a marriage license within the state’s borders.
  2. Meeting the Requirements of the Other State: For Nevada to recognize a common law marriage from another state, the couple must have met the legal requirements for a common law marriage in that state. The specific requirements for common law marriage vary from state to state, but they typically involve elements such as cohabitation, presenting themselves as married, and having the intent to be married.
  3. Residency Requirements: Nevada does not have a specific residency requirement for recognizing a common law marriage from another state. Therefore, couples who were married through common law in another state can move to Nevada, and their marriage will still be acknowledged as legally valid.
  4. Providing Proof of the Common Law Marriage: Couples who wish to have their common law marriage from another state recognized in Nevada may need to provide evidence or documentation to establish the validity of their marriage. Such evidence may include:a. Affidavits from witnesses who can attest to the couple’s cohabitation and presentation as married in the other state.

    b. Documentation showing that the state in which the common law marriage was established legally recognizes such unions.

    c. Any relevant legal documents, such as joint leases or joint bank accounts, that indicate the couple’s shared life and commitment to the marriage.

  5. Consultation with Legal Professionals: Navigating the legal intricacies of common law marriage recognition can be complex. Couples seeking to have their common law marriage from another state recognized in Nevada should consult with a family law attorney who is familiar with both Nevada’s marriage laws and the laws of the state in which the common law marriage was established.

Does Nevada have cohabitation laws?

Nevada does not have specific laws that govern cohabitation or the legal rights and obligations of unmarried couples who live together. Cohabitation, in this context, refers to unmarried partners living together in a domestic relationship.

Unlike some other states, Nevada does not have a “common law marriage” doctrine, which means that simply living together for a certain period of time does not automatically create a legally recognized marriage or confer the same rights and protections as married couples.

In Nevada, unmarried couples who live together do not have the same legal rights and benefits as married couples. This can affect various aspects of their lives, including property rights, spousal support (alimony), inheritance rights, and healthcare decisions, among others.

However, it’s important to note that the lack of specific cohabitation laws does not mean that cohabiting partners have no legal protections at all. Unmarried couples can still take certain legal steps to protect their rights and interests, such as:

  1. Cohabitation Agreements: Unmarried couples can create cohabitation agreements that outline their financial responsibilities, property rights, and other important aspects of their relationship. These agreements can help clarify each partner’s expectations and protect their interests in case of a separation.
  2. Power of Attorney: Partners can designate each other as powers of attorney to make healthcare and financial decisions on their behalf in the event of incapacity or emergency.
  3. Wills and Estate Planning: Individuals can draft wills and other estate planning documents to ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes, especially if they want to provide for their partner in case of their death.
  4. Joint Ownership: When acquiring property together, unmarried couples can choose to hold joint ownership of assets, such as a home or a bank account, which can provide certain legal protections.
  5. Domestic Partnership Registration: Nevada allows domestic partnerships for same-sex couples over the age of 18 and opposite-sex couples where at least one partner is over 62 years old. Registering as domestic partners can provide certain legal benefits, such as inheritance rights and healthcare decision-making.


In conclusion, Nevada does not recognize common law marriage. Since its abolition in 1943, the state only acknowledges marriages that are formed through a valid marriage license and a formal ceremony.

Couples who have previously established a common law marriage in Nevada before 1943 are still considered legally married, and the state will likely honor common law marriages from other states where they are recognized.

For those who wish to solidify their commitment and enjoy the legal benefits and protections of marriage, obtaining a marriage license and having a formal ceremony remain the proper course of action.

If you have specific questions about marriage laws in Nevada or your personal circumstances, it’s best to consult a legal professional to ensure you fully understand your rights and responsibilities.

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