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Evidence of Common-Law Marriage

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

1717. Evidence of Common-Law Marriage

1717.1 How do you prove a common-law marriage?

Evidence to prove a common-law marriage in the States that recognize such marriages must include:

  1. If the husband and wife are living, a statement from each and a statement from a blood relative of each;

  2. If either the husband or wife is dead, a statement from the surviving widow or widower and statements from two blood relatives of the decedent; or

  3. If both a husband and wife are dead, a statement from a blood relative of the husband and from a blood relative of the wife.

1717.2 How should the statements be made?

The statements of the husband, wife, and relatives must be made on special forms available at any Social Security office. You must fully answer all items on the forms and in your own words. Also, submit evidence that confirms that you had a common-law marriage, such as mortgage/rent receipts, bank records, insurance policies, etc.

1717.3 What if you cannot get statements from your relatives?

If you adequately explain why you cannot obtain the required statements from relatives, you may submit statements from other persons who know the facts. Provide any other investigative evidence relating to your case.

Last Revised: March, 2001

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