What is a common-law marriage, and how does it work?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2022 | Family Law |

Did you know that Colorado is one of nine states that still recognizes common-law marriages in the United States? Common-law marriages don’t require you to get married, legally speaking. Instead, a common-law marriage can be identified by looking at factors that categorize the relationship.

For example, if you and your partner co-own property, have lived together for many years, have children together, file joint taxes or have joint assets, you may be in a common-law marriage.

There are many factors to consider when determining if you’re in a common-law marriage

There are all kinds of factors to consider when thinking about whether or not a couple was in a common-law marriage. The above are just a few possibilities.

The nice thing about the flexibility of these marriages is that you may be able to prove that your relationship to the other person does or does not constitute a common-law marriage to help your case when you decide to separate.

For example, if you’re having a dispute about a piece of property that you own together but that is in only one person’s name, you might argue that you’re not in a common-law marriage if that asset is yours or that you are in one if you are hoping to get a portion of its value.

Colorado has specific requirements to be able to be in a common-law marriage

While there is flexibility in the definition of a common-law marriage, the state does have some requirements that the couple has to meet. These requirements include:

  • That both people are free to go through with a ceremonial marriage
  • They both describe themselves as spouses
  • They live together at their permanent addresses, even if those have changed over time
  • Both parties consent to being represented as spouses
  • The community around them believes them to be married

These are a few of the requirements. As you can see, these could be subject to interpretation in some cases, so it’s helpful to learn more about this kind of marriage and your rights if you are separating from a long-term partner. If you can prove the marriage, you may be entitled to a larger share of assets when leaving the relationship.