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Common Law Marriage Divorce

Colorado Springs Common Law Marriage Divorce Attorneys

Seasoned Common Law Marriage Divorce Representation in Colorado Springs

Common law marriage can be a confusing concept, but its rules and legal implications can apply when a couple living in Colorado openly conducts themselves as a married couple and meets several other requirements. In Colorado, you still have to go through a formal divorce to end a common law marriage, even if you never obtained a marriage license or held a grand ceremony.

If you are involved in a common law marriage, or you recently learned your relationship is considered one, and now want to get a divorce, you need legal advocates who are familiar with how to successfully navigate these complex cases. Our Colorado Springs common law marriage divorce lawyers can fight to protect your interests in matters of property division and other unexpected complications that can arise in these scenarios. We will be there to support you from start to finish and will do everything possible to achieve your specific objectives. 

If you are not sure whether your relationship qualifies as a common law marriage, we encourage you to discuss your situation with our team at The Gasper Law Group. Contact us online or call (719) 212-2448 to schedule a free initial consultation today.

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What Qualifies as a Common Law Marriage in Colorado?

In Colorado, a common law marriage is not determined by the duration of cohabitation between two partners. More critical to the establishment of such a union are the intentions of the couple and how they represent their relationship to the wider community. With that said, certain basic criteria must be met for a common law marriage to be legal and binding.

For a common law marriage to potentially exist, the following requirements must be met:

  • Both partners must be at least 18 years old
  • Both partners must consent to being committed to one another
  • Both partners must have a “mutual and open assumption” that they are operating as a married couple
  • Neither partner is already married or in a domestic partner with someone else

Frustratingly, there are no hard and fast rules beyond these basic requirements that can objectively and definitively establish whether a long-term relationship is considered a common law marriage under the law. Meeting the above criteria is not enough. Instead, whether a common law marriage exists is essentially decided on a case-by-case basis. 

Couples do not always agree whether they are or were involved in a common law marriage, especially if they decide to separate and one party wishes to assert their perceived rights. Our Colorado Springs common law marriage divorce attorneys are familiar with how the state’s courts evaluate these relationships and, after assessing your unique circumstances, can help you understand your rights and options. 

Factors that a Colorado court will consider when determining the existence of a common law marriage include:

  • Cohabitation

    Living together, or cohabitation, is a significant indicator of a common law marriage, but its impact primarily hinges on the context in which it occurs. Simply living together might not suffice to establish a common law marriage if the arrangement lacks the characteristics of shared responsibility and mutual commitment typically associated with a marital relationship. In contrast, a couple who lives together, divides household duties, supports each other financially, and presents a united front to their community is more likely to be considered in a common law marriage, even if they only cohabitate for a relatively brief time.

  • Reputation in the community as a married couple
    This external perception and the couple's own portrayal of their relationship can act as substantial evidence in court when determining the existence of a common law marriage. For instance, if the couple regularly introduces themselves as “husband” and “wife” in social settings, uses a common surname, or is generally known in their community as a married couple, these factors lend credence to the existence of a common law marriage.
  • Symbols of commitment
    Symbols of commitment publicly represent the couple's intent to be seen as married, conveying their mutual commitment and shared identity. The exchange or wearing of wedding rings, for example, is broadly recognized as a sign of matrimonial commitment. By wearing such rings, a couple may be expressing their intent to be married and demonstrating this intent to their community. Similarly, the exchange of anniversary gifts or celebration of anniversaries can be indicative of the couple's recognition of their relationship's longevity, akin to a marital relationship. While these symbols alone may not determine a common law marriage, they can contribute to the overall evidence of the couple's intent and public portrayal of their relationship.
  • Joint financials
    Joint bank accounts and shared tax returns are key indicators of a common law marriage, as they reflect a couple's shared financial responsibilities and mutual commitment. When partners maintain a joint bank account, they not only demonstrate their intention to share financial resources but also display a level of trust and interdependence characteristic of a marital relationship. Similarly, jointly filing tax returns demonstrates a financial collaboration and shared liability, which is typical in a legally recognized relationship like marriage.
  • Joint ownership of property
    When a couple jointly owns property, they make decisions together about its use, maintenance, and future, thereby exhibiting a shared life and mutual dependency. This form of asset management is a public demonstration of their partnership and can serve as compelling evidence of a common law marriage.
  • Joint estate planning
    When a couple creates a joint will or designates each other as beneficiaries in their respective wills (or other estate planning documents), it signifies a shared vision for their future and a mutual commitment to each other. The legality of estate planning documents make this a substantial factor in the court's determination of a common law marriage. Furthermore, decisions regarding retirement plans, life insurance policies, or end-of-life care, when made jointly, also imply a level of commitment and mutual care that is characteristic of a marital relationship. These actions showcase the couple's intention to be a united entity in their financial obligations and decisions about their shared future.

How Does Divorce Work for Common Law Marriages in Colorado?

In Colorado, the process of dissolving a common law marriage mirrors that of a traditional marriage. This process involves the same divorce proceedings, and the couple will need to go through formal legal channels to end the marriage. such as the division of property, child custody, alimony, and child support. Our Colorado Springs common law marriage divorce lawyers at The Gasper Law Group are prepared to provide comprehensive, results-oriented guidance throughout each stage of what can be a contentious, complicated process.

The main difference between a common law marriage divorce and a traditional marriage divorce is the need to assert the existence of a common law marriage. In other words, when one party files the divorce petition in these situations, they must claim that a common law marriage exists, which may invite conflict if their partner disagrees. If there is a dispute over the existence of a common law marriage, the court will review the presented evidence of both parties and make a decision. If they agree a common law marriage exists, the divorce will move forward like traditional proceedings typically would. If the court believes there is inadequate evidence to establish a common law marriage, no divorce is necessary. 

Like traditional divorce, the dissolution of a common law marriage involves settling the following matters:

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