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Montana lawmakers might abolish common law marriage in 2023

Published Tuesday, Apr. 11th, 2023

Will Montana put an end to common law marriages?



Updated May 11th, 2023: This bill failed to pass on May 8th, 2023.



This week, lawmakers in the Montana House of Representatives will consider a measure to end the recognition of common law marriages in the state. 


The bill (MT SB488) was passed by the state Senate in early March and is scheduled for a second reading in the House on Wednesday, April 12th. 


If it becomes law, couples will be unable to enter into a common law marriage. Common law marriages formed before the law’s effective date may still be recognized, but these couples will need to prove the validity of their marriage “by a preponderance of the evidence.”


Currently, couples in the state can establish a common law marriage by taking certain steps, such as living together and calling themselves as married, wearing marriage bands, and interacting with their community as a married couple (deporting or holding themselves out as a married couple).


Senate Bill 488 is sponsored by Sen. Daniel Zolnikov, R-Billings. It was passed in the Senate after several amendments were made in March, and was transmitted to the House on March 3rd. A second reading is scheduled for tomorrow, April 12th, 2023. 




More about Common Law Marriages & Montana’s Declaration of Marriage Without Solemnization


Common law marriages are currently recognized in only a few states, including Montana, Colorado, Kansas, New Hampshire, Texas, Iowa and Utah (with court approval), and occasionally in Rhode Island.



Couples in Montana can also marry by completing the paperwork for a ‘Declaration of Marriage Without Solemnization.’ This simple process allows couples to marry without a formal wedding ceremony and without having their marriage solemnized by an officiant.  






Get ordained online to officiate weddings! 


Read How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Montana


Conviértete en un Oficiante de Bodas en Montana

Friends and family members can perform legal weddings in Montana if they've been ordained online. Ordination with American Marriage Ministries is inclusive, free, easy, and fast. Click the link below to get started and learn how to officiate weddings today. 







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Bride and groom stand outdoors in the forest in their wedding clothes, next to a fast moving river with rugged mountains in the distance.

Planning a Montana wedding? This short guide will help - from finding an officiant to completing the marriage license. Read the full article here. 




Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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