Colorado has recognized common law marriage as legal and binding since 1877 and is one of twelve states to do so. It is often a misconception that couples who live together for a certain period of time may enter into a common law marriage. This is not correct.
In order to form a common law marriage, Colorado requires that both individuals intend to be married. The intent to be married is demonstrated by holding themselves out to the community as married. Examples of holding yourself out as married include filing joint tax returns, maintenance of a joint savings or checking account which designate the parties as spouses, registration as husband and wife on applications, leases, contracts, registers, etc., listing your partner as a spouse on health insurance or other documentation, statements to others that you are married, introducing yourselves as husband and wife or otherwise communicating to others in the community that you are married.
Generally, in order to establish a common law marriage, Colorado law requires that the couple:
- Mutually agree or intend to be married; and
- Openly hold themselves out to the community as married.
Common law marriage does not require a license, ceremony or documentation to be legal. Parties to a common law marriage are entitled to all rights, privileges and responsibilities as are present in a ceremonial or legal marriage. If the parties agree that a common law marriage exists, it is recommended that they file a signed notarized affidavit attesting to the marriage with the County Clerk and Recorder in the county which they reside. Only divorce or death of one of the parties will serve to terminate a common law marriage.
Individuals who were married at common law in Colorado are deemed to be married in every state (full faith and credit) including those states which do not recognize common law marriages.
Proving a common law marriage can be complicated inasmuch as in those instances where the parties do not agree, many factors will be taken into consideration. It is important to obtain the expertise of counsel to evaluate a case in which a common law marriage is alleged to exist.
Contact Gary Gottesfeld today to discuss your common law marriage issues. A free consultation is offered to all new clients. Mr. Gottesfeld can be reached at 303-892-7000 or via email below to schedule an appointment.