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More on Common Law Marriage

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:

  • Cohabitation
  • 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.

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