When a couple decides to move forward with a divorce, it requires the two parties to divide their marital property. This includes long-term savings, real estate and anything they’ve acquired over the course of their marriage. However, this process can be complicated if the couple was never married in the first place.
Long-term committed partners can acquire a significant amount of property and assets, especially when they are together for years. Dividing these things will not be easy when there was a comingling of property and funds. If you are breaking up with your long-term partner and wonder how this could affect your financial well-being, it may help to understand common-law marriage and divorce.
Are you common-law married?
Colorado recognizes common-law marriage, which is a relationship status between two people who have been together for a long time. They present themselves as married to friends, family and in public, but they have never gone through with a formal ceremony. You cannot simply live together with someone to be common-law married. To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:
- The partners must live together.
- Both partners must be legally capable of marriage, including being 18 or older and of sound mind.
- The two parties must intend to marry.
- The partners hold themselves as married by sharing money, taking the same last name and considering the other a spouse.
If you meet the above requirements, the state may recognize you as having a common-law marriage. This may then affect what happens as you decided to separate and disengage financial lives. This process may be similar to a divorce in many ways, including in the fair division of jointly held assets. One party may also be eligible for spousal support, even if you are not technically married.
If you are seeking to end a common-law marriage, a good place to start is by seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney who can help protect your interests. Your goal in every decision you make is to preserve your long-term financial well-being and the well-being of any children you have with your partner.
An assessment of your case can help you see what options may be available to you and what to expect as you seek to move forward with your life. This can be a complex process, but you do not have to walk through it alone.