Frequently Asked Questions about Common Law Marriage in Alaska
What is common law marriage in Alaska?
Common law marriage in Alaska is usually defined as a marriage in which no marriage certificate is received and no formal ceremony takes place. In essence, the only indication that a marriage took place is a mutual agreement between both partners that they are engaged in a married union.
Ideally the couple will also maintain a relationship similar to those of couples who have been traditionally married, a requirement that usually requires cohabitation and monogamy. In fact, in some states, to prove the presence of a common law marriage, other individuals in the community will be asked if they believe the couple is married, so this outward appearance of traditional marriage will count quite a bit.
The benefits of a common law marriage are simply those of a regular marriage, in that they entitle a partner to all of the traditional advantages of marriage. In particular, a common law marriage in Alaska would theoretically let one partner to enjoy the other’s healthcare insurance. In addition, any marriage discounts for federal taxation purposes will be considered. Finally, the probate of a partner’s estate will be greatly changed the the presence of a common law spouse, who will be entitled to a large percentage of their partner's goods.
The general practice of common law goes back for centuries, much before the presence of common law marriage in Alaska. It was developed prior to cars, when it was more difficult for individuals to reach a priest or a government official. The need for a formalized marriage could be particularly urgent in those days if a woman was found out to be pregnant, so the concept of a common law marriage grew popular as a means to maintaining a pregnant woman’s virtue.
Can I get a common law marriage in Alaska?
No, unfortunately common law marriage is not currently legal in Alaska. This may not be too surprising. After all, only one-fifth of the country currently recognizes common law marriage. In the years since its inception, the development of the car has made it easier for individuals to reach their nearest preach or government official. Plus, the stigma around single motherhood has decreased considerably.
On the other hand, the illegality of common law marriage in Alaska is a surprise since Alaska is still the least densely populated state in the U.S. With so many remote areas, Alaska seems like the perfect setting for the last stand of common law marriage. Yet, such has not been shown to be the case.
Are there any alternatives to common law marriage in Alaska?
If you want to get a common law marriage, there is still one option you can pursue—you can get a common law marriage elsewhere. Then, once that’s obtained, the state will legally mandate recognition of your common law marriage. Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Utah all have some time of common law marriage laws on the books.