COMMON LAW MARRIAGE
In Colorado, common law marriage is recognized as a legal union between two people who have been living together and presenting themselves as a married couple for a certain period of time. However, disputes over common law marriage can arise, and it can be difficult to navigate the legal system without the help of a knowledgeable attorney. Modern Family Law's common law marriage lawyers in Colorado are experienced in handling cases related to common law marriage, including establishing, defending, or dissolving such marriages.
Whether you are seeking to establish a common-law marriage, defend against allegations of common-law marriage, or dissolve a common-law marriage, our skilled attorneys can help you understand your legal options and advocate for your best interests. Learn about common law marriage in Colorado below including:
Our experienced Colorado common-law marriage lawyers can provide a range of legal services to help you establish, defend, or dissolve a common-law marriage. With their knowledge of Colorado common law marriage law, our skilled lawyers can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights and interests in any related legal matters.
WHAT IS A COMMON LAW MARRIAGE
In Colorado, a common law marriage is a legal union between two people who have not obtained a marriage license or participated in a formal ceremony, but have lived together and presented themselves as a married couple. To establish a common law marriage in Colorado, the couple must meet several requirements including:
1. They must live together as spouses;
2. They must mutually consent or agree to be married; and
3. They must hold themselves out to the public as married.
The length of time the couple has been living together is not a determining factor in Colorado. Once a common law marriage is established, it is treated the same as a formal marriage and must be dissolved through the legal divorce process. Colorado is one of only a few states that recognizes common law marriage as a legal and valid form of marriage.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR COMMON LAW MARRIAGE
In Colorado, a common law marriage is established when a couple meets certain requirements. These include:
-You have filed joint taxes
-You live together
-Your close friends refer to you and your partner as a married couple
-You are on each other’s health insurance policy
-You have signed an Affidavit of Common Law Marriage
-You benefit from public benefits as a married couple
There is no specific length of time required for the couple to live together before they may be considered common law married in Colorado. Additionally, both parties must be at least 18 years of age and not currently married to someone else. It's important to note that simply living together or referring to each other as spouses is not enough to establish a common law marriage in Colorado. There must be clear evidence of the couple's intent to be married, such as joint bank accounts, joint property ownership, or filing taxes jointly.
Once a common law marriage is established in Colorado, it is treated the same as a formal marriage and must be dissolved through the legal divorce process.
Common Law Marriage – Age Restrictions
“(1) A common law marriage entered into on or after September 1, 2006, shall not be recognized as a valid marriage in this state unless, at the time the common law marriage is entered into:
(a) Each party is eighteen years of age or older; and
(b) The marriage is not prohibited, as provided in section 14-2-110.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 14-2-112, a common law marriage contracted within or outside this state on or after September 1, 2006, that does not satisfy the requirements specified in subsection (1) of this section shall not be recognized as valid in this state.“
DO YOU NEED TO GET A DIVORCE IF
YOU ARE IN A COMMON LAW MARRIAGE?
To dissolve a common law marriage in Colorado, you will need to go through the legal divorce process, which is similar to the process for ending a formal marriage. Here are the general steps:
1. File A Petition For Dissolution: The first step is to file a petition for dissolution of marriage in the appropriate court in the county where you or your spouse currently resides.
2. Serve Your Spouse: You will need to formally serve your spouse with the divorce papers, usually through a process server or certified mail.
3. Respond To The Petition: Your spouse will have a certain amount of time to respond to the petition, usually 21 days.
4. Negotiate A Settlement: You and your spouse will have the opportunity to negotiate a settlement agreement that addresses issues such as property division, spousal support, and child custody, if applicable. You may choose to work with a mediator or collaborative lawyer to help facilitate the negotiation process.
5. Attend A Hearing: If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement, you will need to attend court hearings where a judge will make decisions about these issues.
6. Obtain A Divorce Decree: Once all issues have been resolved, either through negotiation or court order, the court will issue a final divorce decree that formally dissolves the common law marriage.
When it comes to dissolving a common law marriage, there is a key difference compared to formal marriages. If one spouse denies the existence of the union, the other party may need to provide evidence to prove that their spouse intended to be part of the marriage. Additionally, to formally dissolve the common law marriage, a court order is necessary.
It's worth noting that the process for dissolving a common law marriage in Colorado can be complex and may involve legal and financial issues that require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can provide guidance and representation throughout the process, helping to protect your rights and interests.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT
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What Happens If A Common Law Married Spouse Dies Without A Will?
In the case of a viable common law marriage, if one spouse dies without leaving a will, the surviving spouse typically has the right to inherit according to the state’s laws, and may also be entitled to other death benefits such as a pension. However, having a will can greatly reduce the likelihood of any issues arising, particularly if the deceased spouse’s other relatives contest the existence of a common law marriage.
Does It Really Matter Whether Our Friends & Family Think Of Us As Married?
Portraying yourselves as a married couple is a significant factor in establishing a common law marriage. Therefore, if you identify yourselves as married, it’s essential to ensure that those around you are aware of your status.
On the other hand, if you wish to avoid your relationship being deemed a common law marriage, it’s crucial to avoid sending mixed signals. Any public statements regarding your marital status, regardless of the reason, can have negative consequences in the future. To reinforce your assertion that your relationship is not a common law marriage, you can create a notarized document stating the same.
Are There Specific Steps To Prove A Common Law Marriage?
Here are several actions you can take to bolster your assertion:
- Open a joint bank account
- Refer to each other as “spouse” in public
- Wear wedding rings
- Use the same last name
- Share expenses and household responsibilities
- File joint tax returns.
Furthermore, as previously mentioned, it may be helpful to file an Affidavit of Common Law Marriage with your county clerk.
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Fort Collins, CO 80525
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