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Marriage that is without a civil or religious ceremony and is based on the parties' agreement to consider themselves married and usually also on their cohabitation for a period of time. Most jurisdictions no longer allow this type of marriage to be formed, though they may recognize such marriages formed before a certain date or formed in a jurisdiction that permits such marriages.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on common-law marriage, visit Britannica.com.
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