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Common-law marriage is generally a non-ceremonial relationship that requires "a positive mutual agreement, permanent and exclusive of all others, to enter into a marriage relationship, cohabitation sufficient to warrant a fulfillment of necessary relationship of man and wife, and an assumption of marital duties and obligations." Black's Law Dictionary 277 (6th ed. 1990).

The affidavit affirms that you and your partner meet the requirements of common law marriage in the state of Iowa. In Iowa to determine if a common law marriage exists the court will look to see if there was an intent or agreement between the couple, if the couple was living together continuously, and that the couple were holding themselves out as man and wife and other factors. A common law marriage can be recognized after any length of time. A common law marriage will give a couple rights as if they were married. It will also give an individual the right to claim the property of their deceased “spouse.” Reference: Iowa Code § 595 (1999).

Once parties are married, regardless of the manner in which their marriage is contracted, they are married and can only be divorced by appropriate means in the place where the divorce is granted. That means, in all 50 states, only by a court order.