Your Quick Guide to Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage grants a couple all the legal benefits of marriage without requiring the couple to formally register for a civil or religious marriage. There are requirements to officially establish a common law marriage, but these requirements vary by state. In Colorado, common law marriages must still be ended by divorce, and it is best to have a skilled Denver divorce attorney who is fluent in Colorado law by your side. Here are some other quick facts about common law marriage in Colorado:


“In Colorado, there are three factors that must be present to establish a common law

marriage. First, you must live together. There is no minimum amount of time — it can be for as little as one night. Second, you must hold yourselves out to be married — that is, you must tell other people you are married or represent to other people that you are married by owning property in joint tenancy or filing joint tax returns or health insurance forms, etc. Third, you must have an agreement that you are married. Without holding yourselves out as being married and without the intent to be married, you are not common law married, regardless of how long you have lived together and whether you have children together.


Common law marriage is real marriage. Common law spouses have all the same

rights and responsibilities as ceremonially married people.


Be aware that there is no such thing as common law divorce. Once you are married,

whether by ceremony or by common law, you can terminate the marriage only by formal divorce. If you do not get a divorce after a common law marriage, all future marriages will be void, and your common law spouse will have all the benefits of a spouse, including the right to take a portion of your estate against your will and to receive various survivor benefits from the government or even from your retirement plan” (Willoughby, 2016, p.156).


For more information on common law marriages, read  “Chapter 13: Family Relationships” in 2016 Colorado Senior Law Handbook, or give your trusted Colorado lawyer a call to discuss your options.


Willoughby, K. R. Esq., (2016). Chapter 13: Family Relationships. 2016 Colorado Senior Law

Handbook, 156.

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