Common Law Marriage

Colorado recognizes common law marriage, but many people misunderstand how those marriages happen. Common law marriage does not occur automatically in Colorado. It does not occur by co- habitation (living together) alone, regardless of how long that goes on. Instead, common law marriage occurs when a couple consistently expresses an intent to be married and holds themselves out to the community as married.

For example, if a couple participates in a marriage ceremony without obtaining a marriage license, then consistently describes themselves as husband and wife in all their dealings, a court would likely find a common law marriage exists.

Evidence of a common law marriage must be clear and consistent. Complications arises when one of the parties denies being married. The Court is then required to look to the evidence presented to make a determination. Here’s another example: a couple participates in a marriage ceremony, introduces themselves as husband or wife to friends and family, but files tax returns or other documents as single or unmarried. In that circumstance, a court could find that no marriage occurred.

Courts can consider many factors when determining whether to recognize a common law marriage. Disagreements over common-law marriage can get very complex, and the amount of evidence that should be gathered in these cases can be daunting.

If you have questions about common law marriage in Colorado, feel free to call and speak to a qualified Colorado divorce attorney with experience litigating this issue.

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