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The doctrine of common law marriage was a judicially sanctioned alternative to formal marriage. In Port v. Port (1873), 70 Ill. 484, the court reasoned that because the statute governing marriage did not 'prohibit or declare void a marriage not solemnized in accordance with its provisions, a marriage without observing the statutory regulations, if made according to the common law, will still be a valid marriage.' (70 Ill. 484, 486.) The court held that if the parties declared their present intent to take each other as husband and wife and thereafter did so a valid common law marriage existed. (Cartwright v. McGown (1887), 121 Ill. 388, 398.) 


'Despite its judicial acceptance in many states, the doctrine of common-law marriage is generally frowned on in this country, even in some of the states that have accepted it.' (52 Am. Jur. 2d 902 Marriage sec. 46 (1970).) Its origins, early history and problems are detailed in In re Estate of Soeder (1966), 7 Ohio App. 2d 271, 220 N.E.2d 547, where that court noted that some 30 States did not authorize common law marriage. Judicial criticism has been widespread even in States recognizing the relationship. ...

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