303 W. Main Street, West Dundee, IL 60118
 | 847-428-7725
Call for an Initial Consultation
Evening and Weekend Hours by Appointment
100 Illinois Street, Suite 200, St. Charles, IL 60174
 | 630-200-4882
By Appointment Only
Evening and Weekend Hours by Appointment
West Dundee, IL847-428-7725
St. Charles, IL630-200-4882
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Serving Kane, McHenry, DuPage and Cook Counties

Does Illinois Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Posted on in Family Law

Common Law Marriage in IllinoisAlthough many couples in Illinois want to get married, some are content to live together and share their lives without going through the expense and formality of a wedding. Unfortunately for couples who choose to simply cohabitate, even if it may seem unfair, Illinois law favors married couples over cohabitating couples in terms of the benefits afforded to them. This is true in marriage and in divorce

A few states do still recognize couples that have lived together for many years as being in a common law marriage, but Illinois has not done so for over 100 years. Because some of the states that recognize common law marriage are close to Illinois, and Illinois recognizes common law marriage from these states, it may be useful for unmarried couples in Illinois to understand what is and is not legally permissible if they separate or get divorced. 

When Does Illinois Recognize Common Law Marriages From Another State? 

When a couple has entered into a recognized common law marriage in another state and have not already been divorced there, Illinois will generally treat their relationship as though it were a marriage for the purposes of separation. Common law marriages from other states must not violate any of Illinois’ marriage laws, including laws about bigamy or the legal age of marriage. The couple must also have presented their relationship as though it were a marriage through typical marital behaviors, such as the use of wedding rings, sharing finances, or publicly presenting themselves as a married couple. 

Do Unmarried Couples in Illinois Have a Right to Marital Property? 

Unmarried couples cannot claim a right to each other’s individually owned property, no matter how long they have been together, because Illinois law always treats unmarried individuals as if they are entirely separate parties. If a couple breaks up, they must divide their jointly owned property, but there will be no separation of property acquired by one party during the relationship. If an unmarried couple wishes to create a cohabitation agreement addressing financial issues if they break up, they can; however, issues related to the children must be addressed at the time of the breakup. 

Contact a Barrington Family Law Attorney

If you are separating from a long-term partner and you have never been married, the experienced Kane County family lawyers with the Law Offices of Benedict Schwarz, II P.C. may be able to help. Although Illinois does not recognize long-term cohabitation as a common law marriage, even unmarried individuals have certain rights when they end a relationship, especially when it comes to their children. Get your questions answered in a confidential initial consultation. Call our office today at 847-428-7725



  • Illinois Best Law Firms
  • Super lawyers
  • Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Comission
  • Lawyers Association Program
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Kane County Bar Association
  • DuPage Bar Association
  • Martin Dale
  • aacfl
Back to Top