What Is a Common Law Marriage?

Colorado is one of few states that still recognizes common law marriage as a legally binding agreement. A common law marriage occurs when two parties consent to being a married couple without receiving a marriage license from the state.

Requirements & Factors of a Common Law Marriage

There are only 2 requirements for a couple to designate themselves as common law married. These requirements are:

  1. The parties must be over the age of 18.
  2. Neither party can be legally married to another person.

Simply living together will not make a relationship a common law marriage in the eyes of Colorado law. There are a few other important factors the state considers before a couple can legally call themselves common law married. These factors include:

  • the couple presents themselves as married in public;
  • the couple has a joint savings and/or checking account;
  • the couple owns property together;
  • the couple offers one another mutual financial support;
  • the couple registers as married on applications (leases, contracts, etc.); and/or
  • the couple shares the same last name.

Establishing a Common Law Marriage

A couple can establish their common law marriage either through witness testimony or legal documentation. However, a court may be more inclined to confirm the validity of the marriage if there is documented proof. For example, if the friends and family of a couple know them to be married, but they file official documents separately (medical insurance, tax returns, etc.), they may not be considered married in the eyes of the law.

Common Law Marriage & Alimony

A common law marriage affects a previous alimony arrangement the same way a ceremonial marriage would. This means that if either spouse was receiving spousal maintenance (support) from a former spouse, the payments will end once the common law marriage is established. However, if the former spouse who is making payments wishes to prove that the receiving party is in a common law marriage, they may have a difficult time. This is because a court will need proof, such as tax returns, that the paying spouse may not have access to.

Protecting Your Marital Rights

If you are having issues establishing your common law marriage, our lawyers can help. While there are not many legal requirements to validate this type of marriage, it could be difficult to prove you and your partner are married. We can advocate for your rights in a courtroom and help validate the marriage through witness testimony and documentation.

Contact our firm online or call us at (303) 647-4245 to schedule your free case evaluation.