Requirements for a Common Law Marriage in Colorado
In the State of Colorado, a couple living together in the same home for any period of time does not establish a common law marriage. While cohabitation is one of many required elements to prove that a common law marriage exists, there is no specific amount of time that a couple must live together to establish that a marriage has been created.
For example: a couple could live together for a decade, and legally remain as two single individuals. But if that same couple cohabitated for a very short period, but agreed that they were husband and wife, and presented themselves to the public as a married couple, then have established a common law marriage.
How Can I Prove a Common Law Marriage Exists?
The Colorado Supreme Court analyzed more than 100 years of cases to establish a list of what is required to prove that a common law marriage exists:
- Mutual agreement that they are married
- Evidence of their mutual agreement
Proving a Common Law Marriage Can Be Complicated
The strongest evidence to prove that a common law marriage exists is a written and notarized agreement signed by both parties stating that they have established a common law marriage. Without a written agreement, the person claiming the existence of a common law marriage has the burden of proof to show that a marriage has been created. The Colorado court will scrutinize common law marriage claims, and require clear, consistent and convincing evidence that common law marriage exists.
The factors that a judge would consider when determining if you created a common marriage include:
- Did you both live together?
- Did one partner take the other partner's last name?
- Did you sign contracts together to buy a car or a house?
- Did you file joint tax returns as a married couple?
- Did you have joint bank accounts?
- Do use have joint credit card accounts?
- Do both partners refer to each other as spouses?
- Do you share household duties and expenses?
- Do you have children together?
- Has one partner has claimed the other partner as a spouse on insurance documents?
- Do the partners have joint gym memberships?
How to Avoid A Common Law Marriage Claim
Avoiding a common law marriage claim will require you to clearly maintain your single status:
- Do not file joint tax returns
- Do not sign an affidavit of common law marriage for any reason
- Do not refer your significant other as a spouse
- Make sure that your Facebook status does not say that you are married
- Keep your own name
- Do not set up joint bank accounts
- Do not have a ceremony that may be misconstrued as a wedding ceremony
- Do not exchange wedding rings
Legal Effect of a Common Law Marriage
A common law marriage is just as legally binding as a ceremonial marriage. A couple in a common law marriage has all the same rights, privileges and obligations as a married couple who established their marriage in more traditional ways. Legally there is no difference between a married couple who had a ceremonial marriage, and a couple who created their union via a common law marriage.
If You Have Questions about a Colorado Common Law Marriage
With over 20 years of experience, Elissa Bercovitz has the Colorado family law experience you need. Call Elissa Bercovitz now at 303 803-1678 for a free consultation and have all your questions answered.