By Christopher M. Nicolaysen
Attorney At Law
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC
The State of Colorado recognizes marriages in two ways. The first way is getting married in such a way that you meet all of the statutory requirements for marriage. The second way is by meeting the requirements for common law marriage. Thus, Colorado does recognize common law marriage.
Many myths exist as to what the requirements are to be common law married. One myth is that the parties must cohabitate for a certain number of years or certain amount of time. Under Colorado law, there is no set amount of years or time required to be declared common law married. Another myth is that a ceremony is required to be common law married. Parties can still be considered common law married in Colorado without a having a ceremony. Lastly, having children together does not necessarily make the parties common law married, but can be a factor in determining common law marriage.
Determining common law marriage is a fact based analysis, and no single fact determines the existence or lack of common law marriage on its own. In Colorado, the two elements needed to determine whether there was a mutual, present intent of the parties to be common law married are (1) cohabitation and (2) a marriage like relationship.
First, the Colorado Supreme Court has said that it is not sufficient that the parties simply be known in their neighborhood or community to be cohabiting. Instead, such cohabitation must be pursued with the habit and repute of marriage. With that said, cohabitation is more that just living together and dating.
Second, a marriage like relationship is more than just dating, having children together, taking vacations together, financially supporting each other, or have sexual relations. Each of these items can help support the showing of a marriage like relationship. A general reputation in the community, among friends, co-workers, and acquaintances, that the parties are intentionally holding themselves out as married is what is needed to show a marriage like relationship. Again, facts are needed to show either the existence or lack of a marriage like relationship.
Further, certain documents may help support the existence of a common law marriages such as the filing of joint tax returns, jointly titled deeds, insurance documents, and bank accounts held together. Understand that these documents are part of the factual analysis in determining common law marriage.
Although many myths and misconceptions exist about common law marriage, the Family Law Attorneys at The Gasper Law Group can help you determine whether or not a common law marriage exists in your particular situation. If you have questions about common law marriage, please contact The Gasper Law Group to schedule a free consultation with a Colorado Springs Family Law Attorney.