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How Family Law Defines Common Law Marriage & Divorce

May 4, 2018

If you’ve never been interested in a big, white wedding, there’s always common law marriage. In family law, common law marriage and divorce are treated differently than traditional marriage and divorce. The process varies based on state legislation and individual preferences.

For assistance in common law marriage or divorce, contact an experienced Colorado family law attorney at Kinnaird & Kinnaird. Our team is determined to make this process as simple and painless as possible. Call to learn more.

There are several factors that play into common law marriage, including:

Financial Ties

To qualify for a common law marriage, you should be able to show financial ties to your spouse through a shared checking or savings account, joint tax return filings, or a shared health insurance policy. In other words, you should treat your partner as your spouse in an official capacity.

Social Presentation

If you present yourself to the world as a married couple, you qualify for a common law marriage. For example, do you share a last name? Do you refer to one another as husband and wife? The ultimate goal of a common law marriage is to grant validity to a life you’ve already been living.

Signed Documentation

Finally, you’ll need to sign an affidavit of common law marriage. Once this certificate has been signed, you’ll share the same benefits as a legally married couple.

Not sure if you qualify? Speak to a family law attorney at your earliest convenience. Your attorney will help you navigate deadlines, complete paperwork, and provide necessary documentation – in addition to determining if you qualify for a common law marriage in the first place.

The Process of Common Law Divorce

For the most part, common law divorce follows the rules and regulations of standard divorce. The only major difference is the court must establish your common law marriage existed in the first place. If so, both parties will be required to complete a marriage settlement agreement that resolves all major issues – including asset division, childcare, and alimony.

A frequent misconception is that common law marriage isn’t legal and, therefore, doesn’t require a divorce. This isn’t true. In order to legally remarry, spouses from a common law marriage must dissolve their marriage completely.

Contact an Experienced Colorado Family Law Attorney for Assistance

Roughly a dozen states recognize common law marriage, including Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Texas, South Carolina, Utah, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, and Alabama. Additional qualifying factors include:

  • Being a heterosexual couple that lives together in a state that recognizes common law marriage.

  • Living together for a significant amount of time.

  • Legally changing your last name to a shared name.

If you have questions about common law marriage or divorce, you should speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Contact a Colorado family law attorney at Kinnaird Law by calling today.