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Colorado Common Law Marriage Attorney

There are many misconceptions surrounding common-law marriages in Colorado. Many people even assume that common-law marriages no longer exist or are invalid. But if you want to end a relationship that was a common-law marriage, the process is likely to be more complicated than a breakup where you were in a relationship, but legally considered to be single.

Colorado common-law marriages can be complex and difficult to understand. But when you are considering alternative marriage options in a common-law marriage or are headed for divorce, you need an experienced attorney to advocate for your rights.

Contact a dedicated Colorado common-law marriage lawyer at Phillips & Blow PC for the legal support you need, when you need it most. Schedule your free consultation when you call us at (303) 741-2400.

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What Is a Common Law Marriage in Colorado?

There are many misconceptions about Colorado common law marriages. For example, when you see people who have been in a relationship for a considerable amount of time and live together, one partner may refer to the other as their common-law spouse.

But living together for a year or more does not mean that you are in a common law marriage. Although your cohabitation situation will be relevant when determining whether your common law marriage exists in Colorado, it is not necessarily a requirement for there to be a common law marriage in place.

Many people are turning to common law marriages as an alternative way to celebrate marriage without the traditional ceremonial process. But the primary difference between common law marriages and traditional marriages are the legal factors.

It is not uncommon for people who are involved in common law marriages to encounter issues surrounding whether their marriage is considered valid under the law. For this reason, it is important that you understand what the requirements are for common law marriages in Colorado and whether entering into a common law marriage is in you and your partner‘s best interests.

Requirements for Colorado Common Law Marriages

One of the key requirements for common law marriages in Colorado is a mutual agreement between both partners that they are entering into an assumed marital relationship. There are three primary elements that will need to be satisfied in order for a common law marriage to be recognized in Colorado. These include:

  • Mutually agreeing to live and act as a married couple
  • Having evidence of this mutual agreement
  • Living together as spouses

In the past, unless each of these three elements were met, there could not be any proof of common law marriage. There are some other factors that could be used to help support your claim that a common law marriage exists. Some of these factors could include:

  • Sharing finances, including credit cards and bank accounts
  • Sharing ownership of assets and property
  • Filing joint tax returns
  • One spouse, and your shared children, taking on the other spouse’s last name

Factors That Determine Common Law Marriages in Colorado (UPDATED for 2021)

Societal norms have changed over the years. So much so that the Colorado courts found it necessary to revisit the standard, more traditional requirements of common law marriages in Colorado.

One of the most important being the requirement that a couple will need to be cohabitating in order to be considered common-law married. Although cohabitation used to be a requirement, many couples have chosen to live separately while still agreeing to live their lives as a married couple. For this reason, the courts no longer require this for your common law marriage to be recognized.

With that being said, cohabitation can certainly be used as evidence of your common law marriage. Some other factors, in addition to the ones described above, that will be taken into consideration when determining whether a couple was intending to enter into a common law marriage in Colorado include:

  • Joint estate planning
  • Being named as your partner’s emergency contact or beneficiaries
  • Being recognized in your community as a married couple
  • Referring to each other as your spouse
  • Other symbols of your committed relationship, such as gifts, anniversaries, or other ceremonies

If you have concerns that your Colorado common law marriage is not being recognized, and you are unsure of where to turn for help, reach out to an experienced Colorado divorce attorney at Phillips & Blow PC to get the answers and legal advice you are looking for.

Proving Colorado Common Law Marriages Exist

Generally speaking, spouses may find it difficult to prove that a common law marriage exists. This is, in part, because of the fact that there is no legal requirement that the agreement to be married needs to be in writing. In fact, most couples who agree to enter into common law marriages do not have their common law marriage agreement in writing. Although doing so could certainly save you time, energy, and money down the line if your common law marriage comes to an end.

For this reason, when you need to prove that your common law marriage exists, you can expect the judge in your case to carefully scrutinize the details of the claims you have made. You will need to be prepared to provide compelling evidence to show that your relationship is not merely a relationship but instead a common law marriage under Colorado law.

You might think that the evidence is obvious, but under the law, it also needs to be clear. With that being said, some evidence that you might be able to present that could convince the court that your common law marriage exists and should be recognized include:

  • You have a joint bank account used for shared living expenses, but may have retained separate accounts for your individual incomes.
  • You have lived together for one or more years.
  • You have signed some type of legal document recognizing your partner as your spouse in order to obtain certain benefits, whether that be health insurance through your employer or something minor such as a free ticket to a show.

However, if your partner makes claims that they never intended to be common-law married to you, that you never portrayed yourselves as being married to your friends, family, or to each other other, if you filed separate tax returns, or filed estate plans that did not explicitly refer to your partner as your spouse, these claims could be called into question.

If you suspect that your partner is going to attempt to refute the fact that a common law marriage exists, it is important that you get an experienced legal advocate on your side. Doing may be one of the only ways that you can protect yourself and your future.

How to Avoid a Common Law Marriage Claim in Colorado

There are many different reasons why you might have a common law marriage claim brought against you in Colorado. If you want to take steps to avoid having such a claim brought against you, it is critical that you do not represent yourself as being married to your partner.

If you never intend to be married to your partner and hope to avoid the hassles that come with common law marriage contests in Colorado, make sure to avoid the following:

  • Never file a joint tax return
  • Never refer to your partner as your spouse, husband, wife, or other lingo that might otherwise insinuate that you are married
  • Do not take on a shared family name
  • Never sign an affidavit of common law marriage
  • Do not change your relationship status on Facebook or other social media platforms to “married”
  • Never use joint bank accounts
  • Never have any type of ceremony or celebration that resembles a wedding

Common Law Marriage for Same Sex Couples in Colorado

In the past, the state of Colorado prohibited any type of same-sex marriages. This included same-sex common law marriages. However, since the U.S. Supreme Court determined that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples, same-sex couples do have the right to enter into traditional marriages and common law marriages in the state of Colorado.

For couples who were acting and living as a married couple in a common law marriage prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decision back in 2015, your relationship will be recognized as a common law marriage under Colorado law. For this reason, it is important that you and your partner discuss in detail what the status of your relationship is, whether you are in a dating relationship or a marital one, and work on anticipating the potential legal consequences of entering into a common law marriage in Colorado.

If your same-sex relationship is one that is marital in nature, then you can reasonably expect that your relationship would be recognized as a common law marriage under Colorado law. But if one or both partners does not agree to live your lives as a married couple, then a common law marriage does not exist. This could have a considerable impact on whether you are able to secure the property and assets that are rightfully yours when your relationship ends, and whether alimony is going to be available and appropriate for your case.

The Legal Impact of Colorado Common Law Marriages

There are many people who think that common law marriages are much different than traditional marriages. But this is not the case. Since the state of Colorado recognizes common law marriages, a common-law husband or wife is no different than a traditional husband or wife. Spouses of any type, no matter how the marriage came to be, are entitled to the same types of responsibilities and privileges that come with marriage.

The only time that you may experience legal issues surrounding your common law marriage is if you or your partner attempts to make a claim that your marriage did not exist. At that point, you may find yourself in need of an attorney who can help you through the Colorado common law divorce process.

Getting Divorced With a Common Law Marriage in Colorado

One issue that many couples find themselves dealing with when they are ready to end their common law marriage is how to go about getting divorced. Many couples are of the impression that they can just end the relationship and move on with their lives, the same way that you would be able to if you had never been married.

But the fact remains that common law marriages do exist and are recognized as such under Colorado law. This means that when you were in a recognized common law marriage, if you hope to end your marriage, you will need to go through a formal dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or attempt to get your common law marriage annulled.

You can explore which option is best for you when you speak with your Colorado divorce attorney. You may also find yourself in need of a lawyer if your common-law spouse has attempted to end the relationship without going through a formal divorce. You have certain rights as a common-law spouse, and you may need help exercising them as you work through the terms of your divorce settlement.

Get Help From a Colorado Common-Law Marriage Attorney

Whether you and your partner are looking into non-traditional marriage approaches or were already in a common-law marriage that has failed and you are ready to divorce, make sure you have an experienced Colorado common-law marriage lawyer at Phillips & Blow PC advocating for your rights.

When you are ready to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation, give our office a call at (303) 741-2400 or fill out our online contact form.

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