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What is a common law marriage under Colorado law?

Learn about common law marriage in Colorado. Find out when it is legal, and discover how it works. Also, get information on special situations.

Common law marriage is a term that may be unfamiliar to some people. It is not well understood, and in many states, it is not legal. However, Colorado does recognize this form of marriage. Find out what it is, how to establish it and the details of how it works to gain a better understanding of the concept.

Common law marriage defined

The Office of the Attorney General explains Colorado law states that a common law marriage is one where two people enter a marriage without the formality of a ceremonial marriage. Essentially, the couple does not need a marriage license or to file any type of document. However, there are certain conditions they must meet.

A common law marriage is between two people who live together in the same home as husband and wife and have the legal ability to consent to the arrangement. They must present themselves as husband and wife to the public. A couple may establish this type of marriage at any time. There is no time requirement under the law. A couple may register their marriage by signing an affidavit, which they may then use as proof of the relationship.

Common law marriage comes from old English laws. It provides a couple with all the rights of any other married couple. According to the Pitkin County website, Colorado is only one of 12 states that still recognize this type of marriage.

Special considerations

There are age restrictions for this type of marriage just as there are with ceremonial marriages. According to the Colorado General Assembly, both parties must be at least 18 years old at the time of establishing the marriage. It is important to note that this age restriction only applies to common law marriages after September 1, 2006.

Dissolving a common law marriage

Because this type of marriage affords the same rights and responsibilities as a ceremonial marriage, dissolving the status requires the same steps. A person wishing to leave a common law marriage must get a divorce. This process is the same as with a ceremonial marriage. Remember that there is no requirement for documentation of a common law marriage. All a person must do is prove the marriage existed under the law and satisfied the elements required. The only other way to end the marriage is the death of one of the spouses.

If you have a common law marriage and wish to end it, then it is helpful to speak with an attorney, such as Shea L. Burchill, P.C. An attorney is also helpful if you find yourself in divorce court for a common law marriage your spouse wants to dissolve.