Common-Law Marriage in Colorado

Are you thinking of tying the knot? Or maybe just exploring coupleship without a formal marriage as we know it? For those residing in Colorado, establishing a common law marriage may be an option to explore. Common law marriages can offer many of the same rights and responsibilities that accompany traditional marriage ceremonies – however, there are certain requirements that must be met to solidify this type of relationship under Colorado state laws. In this blog post, we’ll be providing an overview of common law marriages in Colorado, so you know your legal rights should you decide to make such a commitment.

What is Common-Law Marriage and How Does it Work in Colorado?

In the picturesque state of Colorado, there’s an intriguing legal concept that can greatly impact couples who have been living together for some time. Common law marriage, a term you may have heard of, refers to a unique legal status that arises when couples fulfill certain criteria, without the traditional pomp and ceremony of a formal wedding. Colorado’s common law marriage standards require a couple to evidence their intent to be married, live together, and showcase a united front as a husband and wife in their community. These unions hold significant importance as they bestow partners with the same legal rights and obligations as that of a legally married couple, such as sharing property or making medical decisions for each other.

What Are The Requirements for Common-Law Marriage in Colorado?

While Colorado is among the few states that recognize common law marriage, there are specific requirements to be considered. First and foremost, both individuals must have the intent to be married and express that commitment to their loved ones. Additionally, you both need to cohabitate – living together primarily as a married couple – as well as openly profess your marital relationship in social situations. It is also essential to ensure that neither of you is already legally married, plus consenting adults aged 18 or above. Remember, meeting all these criteria is essential to ensure that your unique bond is recognized, legally protecting your rights and rendering your union as valid under Colorado law.

How Are My Rights Different in a Common-Law Marriage vs. a Traditional Marriage?

Navigating the distinction between common law marriage and traditional marriage can be a bit tricky, but understanding your rights in each scenario is essential. In a common law marriage, couples acquire certain legal rights after living together for a specific period, depending on the state’s requirements, and presenting themselves as married to others. These rights usually include inheritance, property, and support rights similar to those in a traditional marriage. Conversely, a traditional marriage requires a formal ceremony and a legal marriage license. Once married, couples enjoy a wide range of rights, such as tax benefits, spousal privileges, and access to health care coverage.

However, it’s important to remember that common law marriage is not recognized in every state, so it’s important to become familiar with your specific jurisdiction’s laws in order to safeguard your respective rights. Unlike married couples, couples in a common law marriage don’t automatically share legal rights to assets such as pensions, inheritance, or estate in the event of partner’s death. It’s important to recognize the need for a legally binding agreement called a cohabitation agreement to protect a common law couple’s financial interests, as it can serve as a valuable tool to clarify each other’s entitlements. By understanding these fundamental differences, couples can navigate their relationship status with confidence and security, while ensuring their legal rights are safeguarded.

What If I Want to Dissolve My Common-Law Marriage?

The steps for dissolving a common-law marriage in Colorado can be a challenging process, but with the right guidance, you can successfully move forward. First and foremost, it’s essential to determine if your relationship qualifies as a common-law marriage under Colorado law. Factors such as cohabitation, mutual agreement to be married, and a public representation of your union will contribute to this evaluation. Once you’ve established your relationship as a common-law marriage, the next step is to initiate the legal process of separation or dissolution, similar to a traditional marriage. This process involves filing the necessary papers with the court system, reaching agreements on matters such as asset division, debt allocation, child custody, and spousal support, and possibly enlisting the help of legal professionals to ensure all requirements are met.

While the complexities of Colorado’s common-law marriage rules can be overwhelming, approaching the situation with an experienced family law attorney can be beneficial in reaching a fair and amicable resolution.

The Pros and Cons of a Common Law Marriage

Choosing to enter a common law marriage can have both pros and cons in the eyes of the law, and understanding these can help couples decide if it’s the right course of action for them. One of the main advantages of common law marriage is its simplicity: There is no need for a formal ceremony, which can be appealing to those who prefer to avoid the expenses and planning often associated with weddings. It can also provide legal protections, such as inheritance rights if one partner passes away without a will, and allow couples to enjoy government-related benefits, such as social security or health care benefits.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that the cons of common law marriage involve potential difficulties in proving the relationship’s validity and in the case of a breakup, the lack of clear guidelines for property division. Additionally, it’s worth noting that not all states recognize common law marriages, so couples contemplating this option should thoroughly research their state’s specific legislation to ensure they fully understand their rights and obligations.

How Will I Know If Common-Law Marriage is For Me?

Embarking on the journey of discovering whether a common-law marriage is the right fit for you can both be exciting and challenging. As you consider this unique partnership, it’s important to understand that common-law marriages differ from traditional marriages as they are formed without a legal ceremony and recognized through cohabitation and presenting themselves as a married couple. Assessing your personal values, preferences, and the legal implications in your region is a crucial step in making this decision. Engage in open and honest dialogue with your partner about the benefits and drawbacks of this type of union, and consult with legal professionals or relationship advisers to gather insights tailored to your specific circumstances.

Ultimately, understanding the various facets of common-law marriage will help you and your partner to create a solid foundation for your relationship, ensuring that it aligns with your vision of a lifelong partnership.


Common law marriage is an interesting and unique opportunity for those considering a long-term relationship. The requirements are easy to fulfill yet each situation does demand a commitment from both partners. However, it is important to make sure that individuals understand the rights and responsibilities given to them in comparison to legally married couples since those tend to be more extensive. For those wishing to dissolve their common law marriage, taking the steps necessary—though not always easy—is important for both parties’ wellbeing. It is also wise to consider all of the pros and cons of choosing this type of union so as be aware of everything that entails beforehand.

If you have questions pertaining to common-law marriage, or are looking to dissolve your common-law marriage, you can find more information at, or 970-315-2365.

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