Common law marriages occur in the absence of a legal wedding ceremony, because the couple has lived together as man and wife for a number of years. Individuals must present themselves as man and wife, in order to have their common law marriage recognized by the law.
There are only certain jurisdictions which recognize common law marriages and each has their own specifications for doing so. In some states, common law marriage can occur between opposite sex or same sex couples, with some or all of the rights of marriage being conferred upon the relationship.
In some states, common law marriages include the same rights as legal civil marriages, including the right to inherit property in the absence of a will or the right to make medical decision for a spouses. However, state laws vary and couples should carefully research the rights of marriage that apply to their relationship.