5 Things to Know About Common Law Marriage

 By Craig Franklin Chambers, Esq

 The Littleton Lawyer

Family Law Blog  Vol 1.9. January 21, 2019

 As an attorney focusing in family law, marital law, divorce and child custody cases in Littleton, Englewood, South Jeffco, Englewood, Ken Caryl, Roxborough, and Highlands Ranch, here are five things to know about common law marriage.

First, Colorado is one of a handful of states that still recognizes Common law marriage. This important because your rights as a married person are greater than your rights as a non-married person simply cohabitating. To prove common law marriage in Colorado, you must show that you cohabitated with your partner and held yourself out to the public as married.

Second, there is no time period of cohabitation that results in common law marriage. Once you are married  under the common law, you are married just as if you had obtained a marriage license.

Third, there is no common law divorce. Even if you are separated for years, once you are married, you are married until you go to court and get a divorce.

Fourth, the hardest part of proving a common law marriage is the second element: holding yourself out to the public as married. Many things a couple does that resembles what married couples do such as having children, buying a home, or having a joint checking account doesn’t prove that the parties held themselves out as married. Generally, unless you and your partner signed something stating you are married, or filed tax returns or insurance forms representing yourself out as a married couple, the court will not find you to be married under the common law.

Fifth, if you believe you are common law married, you file a dissolution of marriage just like a regular divorce.  If your partner disputes that you are married, the court will hold a hearing as to this issue. If you win the hearing, the divorce proceeds; if not, the divorce is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because you were never married.

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