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Common Law

What is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage is an informal type of marriage involving couples who hold themselves out to be married, but who do not have a marriage license and have never actually gone through with a formal ceremony.

Criteria for a Common Law Marriage

Simply living together is not enough to constitute a common law marriage. Generally, in order for a marriage to be considered common law, it must meet the following criteria:

  1. The couple must live together (the length of time required varies by state);
  2. Both parties must have the capacity to marry, meaning that both people must be of legal age, not married to someone else, and of sound mind;
  3. Both parties intend to be married; and
  4. The couple must present themselves as a married couple, typically in the form of referring to each other as “husband” and “wife,” taking the same last name and possessing joint bank accounts or credit cards.

The following U.S. states recognize common law marriages:

  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • Alabama
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • District of Columbia

Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Ohio have banned common law marriages, but will still recognize marriages prior to the ban if the couple meets all of the requirements.

How Can I Tell if a Common Law Marriage Exists?

You can only know for sure whether a common law marriage exists if a judge says it does. Judges will take into consideration whether a couple has filed joint tax returns, signed contracts together to buy a home or vehicle, shared household expenses, and duties, or has and raised children together. Couples who are living together as husband and wife and are recognized as such by friends and family are likely to be bound by a common law marriage.

Colorado Divorce Attorneys

Common law marriages are just as valid and binding as formal marriages, which means that the marriage does not end when a couple decides to split up. Common law marriages last until one partner dies or until a judge grants the couple a divorce.

If you and your spouse are common law married and are seeking to end your relationship, call on the Colorado divorce lawyers at Modern Family Law. We are available to answer any questions you may have about a dissolution of marriage in Colorado and help make the divorce process as smooth as possible. It is our goal to help find a solution that is in your best interests as well as those of your family.

Posted November 06, 2015
by: MFL Team

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