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5 Common Myths About Common Law Marriage

June 22, 2018

The concept of common law marriage may be foreign to many individuals, but the state of Colorado still recognizes it as a legal framework. In a common law marriage, a couple is legally married, even though they never had a formal ceremony or got a marriage license. In Colorado, a common law marriage is validated when a couple has been living together as husband and wife, and also openly presenting themselves as a married couple in public.

When Is Common Law Marriage Valid Under Colorado Law

Colorado considers a common law marriage to be valid if the following criteria are met:

  • Cohabitation

  • Mutual consent of marital relationship

  • Open assumption of marriage in public

  • Both parties are over the age of 18

  • Neither party was married at the time

  • There is no incestuous relationship

To determine if there was a mutual consent of marital relationships and an open assumption of marriage in public, Colorado courts will look at several factors, including:

  • Filing joint state and federal tax returns

  • Listing other party as spouse on insurance forms or retirement accounts

  • Owning joint property

  • Opening up joint bank accounts

  • Calling each other spouse

  • Taking the same last name

  • Wearing rings

  • Having an informal ceremony

Myths about Common Law Marriage

Unfortunately, not everyone understands common law marriage and how it may apply to their situation. In fact, many couples are misinformed about common law marriages, which creates considerable confusion during a divorce or family dispute.

Here are 5 of the most common misconceptions:

  • Common Law Marriages Don’t Need Divorce– If you have a common law marriage, you are subject to the same claims for asset division, spousal support, and child support as someone who was traditionally married.

  • You Need to Cohabitate for a Long Time– This is not necessarily true. The state of Colorado does not have a set time period for a marriage to be declared common law.

  • Common Law Marriages Are Only Valid If You Have Children – Having children does not create a common law marriage, nor does not having children disprove one.

  • You must plan a wedding– Planning to marry does not affect the legal validity of a common law marriage.

  • It’s No Big Deal to Be Common Law Married– There are numerous advantages and disadvantages to a common law marriage. If you’re separating, you may be entitled to spousal support, insurance, and retirement funds. An experienced family lawyer can help you understand how common law marriage could affect your future.

Contact Our Colorado Springs Family Lawyers Today

Do you have questions about common law marriage? Are you considering a divorce but uncertain whether your relationship is a common law marriage? At Kinnaird Law, our Colorado Springs family law attorneys can answer all of your questions and help you understand your options. We’ve been helping families in Colorado Springs for over 30 years. Contact us today by phone to schedule your free consultation.