The State of Colorado recognizes common law marriage. The CO Attorney General's Office has written a brief explanation of what the legal definition of common law marriage is in Colorado. Scroll down to "Where can I find information about common law marriage The ODR exists to establish and make available conflict resolution programs and services within the Colorado Judicial Branch.
An introduction for people who are appearing in court without an attorney. Records of the court available on the Internet. Complete the form to request your filing fees be waived, and find links to the instructions and forms on the Colorado Judicial courts site. Provides an overview of Colorado's state courts and the justice system in order to help you better understand how the courts function and what rights you have in the courts. Links to all 64 county courts including address, telephone and contact information. Get certified copies of birth and death certificates, and marriage and divorce verifications, adoption records.
Look up and get copies of information such as marriage and birth records, home ownership information and other documents. Staffed by volunteers, the program's purpose is to supplement help provided in the El Paso County Combined Courthouse Self Help Center for the public, by helping you gain access to resources you need to answer questions regarding family law and other civil matters not criminal. Looking for legal information only? Go to applyonlinecls. Many of those benefits can help save money.
Having one shared health plan instead of purchasing two separate plans, for example, could save thousands of dollars per year. If a state recognizes common law marriage, and a couple does not want to be seen as married, they need to sign a living together contract —especially if they own property together or use the same last name.
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While common law couples get to enjoy the financial and legal benefits of marriage in most cases, they may also be vulnerable to some of the potential downsides. If one spouse buys property on their own and the other spouse is not on the deed, for instance, the property can be sold without their consent.
Colorado Common Law Marriage | Colorado Family Law Guide
To circumvent this issue, major assets should be bought using co-ownership agreements. To be on the safe side, obligations and rights should be reviewed with an attorney who understands common law marriage. Couples who move out of the state in which they established a common law marriage need to be aware that all states recognize a common law marriage that a couple legally entered into in another state. Still, after the move, they may want to sit down with an attorney in their new state to be sure they meet the legal obligations required to maintain their rights as a married couple.
Keeping good records, especially if they move around a lot, can help when it comes to claiming federal benefits. And if a common law couple decides to part ways, even though there is no "common law divorce," they will still need to have their relationship legally dissolved. This relates to the fact that a person in a common law marriage could be liable for providing the same type of support for their ex-spouse as someone in a legally binding marriage might be required to do after divorce.
Planning Your Wedding. Handling Your Money. The Legal Side of Marriage. Marriage and Taxes. Marriage vs. Key Takeaways Only nine states and the District of Columbia still recognize common law marriages. Both parties filed individual tax returns, and claimed to be single for purposes of insurance and Medicaid. These documents trumped the witnesses, and the court found no common law marriage. This decision echoes earlier decisions suggesting documentary evidence is more compelling than witnesses who contradict the documents.
In re: Estate of Wires , P. Similarly, the court in a bankruptcy case cited the lack of joint tax returns as an indication there was no common law marriage. In re: Frawley , B. But before we assume that tax returns are controlling, in the Court of Appeals reminded us they are not.
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Yet despite meeting all of the elements, the court inexplicably decided that because they did not file joint taxes, there was no marriage. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that once findings have been made that the elements of a common law marriage were satisfied, the inquiry ends, and other evidence is irrelevant:.
But, if the essential factors are met, the inquiry ends. How to reconcile these cases?
Tax returns and the like are important when deciding whether the elements of a common law marriage exist. But if the court has already found they exist, that's the end of the inquiry, and there's no need to consider tax returns. Another point is that in the estate cases, only one of the principals involved in the alleged marriage is testifying, and obviously testifying to there being a marriage. With a dissolution case, if the evidence were unambiguous, there would be no hearing to determine whether a common law marriage existed, because the parties would be in agreement.
So at a contested dissolution hearing to determine the existence of the marriage, one of the alleged spouses will be testifying there is no marriage, presumably that party has friends and family who will testify to the same, so the court will necessarily have to scrutinize documents, especially tax returns, to try to assess the credibility of the parties and other witnesses.
If a couple has already been married and divorced the standard for proving a subsequent common law marriage may be relaxed. In re: Peterson's Estate , P. In such case we think that the law's role of mere toleration of the common law relationship should be reversed and the status of remarriage favored, even if acquired with common law informality. If the law allows a spouse, in the generous amount of nine reasons, to establish by divorce that the marriage was a mistake, it should be at least equally eager to let both spouses discover that their divorce was also a mistake.
We regard it better to encourage remarriage than to leave such parties under judicial edict that they were living sinfully together for ten years. Terriere , P.
Which States Recognize Common Law Marriage?
Prior to the U. Hodges , U. However, as SCOTUS has found such bans to violate equal protection, same-sex couples may marry the same as heterosexual couples. This applies to both ceremonial marriages, as well as common law marriages. What that means is that if a couple meets the criteria for a common law marriage, the court will treat the marriage as being valid, even if it was entered into before , when same-sex marriages were legalized. But there are other factors a court can still consider, and despite no joint taxes, could use to find a common law marriage existed.
Whether they were same-sex or opposite-sex was immaterial. A couple in a common law marriage has all of the same privileges and obligations as any other married couple, and legally there is no difference between a married couple who went through a ceremonial marriage, and one with a common law marriage. Moreover, it would be a violation of the equal protection clause of the U. Constitution to treat married couples differently based upon how their marriage was created.
Carter v. Fireman's Pension Fund , P. If one of the common law spouses was receiving maintenance aka "spousal support" or "alimony" from a former spouse, upon entering into a common law marriage, that maintenance obligation ends, just as it would upon entering into a ceremonial marriage. In re: Marriage of Cargill and Rollins , P. Note, however, that if you are the former spouse paying maintenance, proving a common law marriage will not necessarily be easy - it's not just cohabitation, but requires looking at tax returns, etc, which the payor often will not have access to.
Is a couple who entered into a common law marriage in Colorado still married if they move to a state without common law marriage? Yes - thanks to the U.
Note that there will be practical problems trying to dissolve a common law marriage in another state - for example, if one party denies there was a marriage, two lawyers who have probably never seen a common law marriage will be litigating the issue in front of a judge, whom has almost certainly also never had a case involving a common law marriage.