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A Colorado Springs Family Law Attorney Explains the Complexities of Common Law Marriage

Monday, 04 January 2010

Only about a dozen states still recognized a “common law” marriage, and Colorado is one of them. Because it is up to Colorado courts to decide whether they will recognize a common law marriage, it can be very difficult to end this type of union and be certain that your legal rights are protected.  A Colorado Springs family law attorney will be able to help you learn more about the laws concerning marriage in Colorado, and protect your property rights in a divorce. 

Since there are no hard and fast rules outlining what constitutes no a Colorado common law marriage, or any specific laws covering it, a few basic standards are used by divorce courts to determine whether a common law marriage is valid.


These requirements are cohabitation (living in the same household), mutual agreement to be married, and public declarations of being wed to one another.  In some cases, when a common law marriage ends in divorce, it is possible that one party may try to deny that a marriage ever existed as a way to escape the equitable division of assets.  It these rare cases, the other party may need to provide the court with tangible proof of common law marriage.  In the eyes of the court, “proof” may include the filing of joint tax returns or listing the other party as a spouse/beneficiary on insurance or retirement plans.  Jointly held assets are another indicator, such as joint back accounts or property, as well as the woman taking the man’s surname.

Of all these factors, filing a joint tax return is perhaps the most important. By doing this, a couple is holding themselves out as married to the federal government under penalty of perjury.  Absent a joint tax return, another form of proof can shown in an Affidavit of Common Law Marriage. 

If you are married by the common law in Colorado, and can provide proof of this to Colorado family court, you will also enjoy all the rights and privileges granted to any other couple who petitions the state for a divorce.  A Colorado Springs family law attorney can help you work through any issues that come up as a result of your common law marriage.

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