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An agreement between a man and woman to live together as husband and wife without any legal formalities, followed and/or preceded by cohabitation on a regular basis (usually for seven years). common-law marriage is legal in alabama, colorado, georgia, idaho, iowa, kansas, montana, ohio, oklahoma, pennsylvania, rhode island, south carolina, texas and utah, thereby recognizing a marriage for purposes of giving the other party the rights of a spouse, including inheritance or employee benefits. such informal partnerships are recognized by some local governments for purposes of the rights of a spouse under employment contracts and pension rights even where the state does not recognize this as a marriage.

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