Do I Have to File for Divorce After a Common Law Marriage?

filing for divorce after common-law marriage

If you live in a state that recognizes common-law marriage, like Colorado, then you may be wondering if you need to file for divorce if your relationship ends. The answer depends on the laws of your state. But generally speaking, if you want to dissolve your common-law marriage, you will need to file for divorce just like any other married couple. In this blog post, we’ll provide some guidance on how to proceed with filing for divorce after a common-law marriage in Colorado.

What Is a Common Law Marriage in Colorado

When it comes to romantic relationships, the term common-law marriage may come up but not many people are sure what it means. In Colorado, common-law marriage occurs when an intimate relationship meets certain criteria: one person in the partnership needs to be a legal resident of Colorado and the couple must have agreed to be married and presented themselves as such. The couple also must exhibit public acknowledgment that they are married.

The below is a high-level summary:

  • You both must have the “capacity to marry” (the legal right).
  • You must be 18 years old.
  • You both must intend to be married.

How Do I Know if I’m In a Common Law Marriage?

Knowing whether or not you are in a common-law marriage is extremely important because if you are married and don’t realize it, the applicable laws governing divorce will be quite different from those of an unmarried couple. Understanding common-law marriage can be complex, but generally speaking, common-law marriages occur when two people live together as a couple and hold themselves out to their community as married. Generally, common-law marriage can only occur in states that recognize this type of union, so before certain rights and obligations kick in due to common-law marriage, it is recommended that you understand the laws in your state.

Common Law Marriage, and The Benefits of it

Common-Law Marriage is a union between two consenting adults that is recognized by common law, rather than solemnized through a ceremony. This type of marriage can provide all of the same benefits as traditional marriage, such as shared health insurance, social security benefits, and inheritance rights. Common-law marriages are not legal in all states, however when it is grounds for divorce similar to traditional means. It’s important to understand the common-law marriage rules and regulations of the state you live in to know if this avenue provides any tangible benefits. Ultimately, common-law marriages may arrive at the same destination as many traditional marriages and offer similar protection along the way.

Divorce after common law marriage

The Disadvantages of Common Law Marriage

Common-law marriage can be a tricky subject as disadvantages may arise if the couple should decide to break apart. Without the marriage being legally recognized, issues such as alimony, division of joint possessions, and taxes would not be covered by divorce proceedings. This could mean that each spouse is left with the property they had before living together, although this may create unfair outcomes in some cases. Additionally, common-law marriage can cause potential problems with insurance policies or inheritance rights. It is important for couples considering this type of relationship to think carefully about these disadvantages before making a decision.

How Do I File for Divorce with a Common Law Marriage

If you are aware that you are in a common-law marriage, it’s important to fully understand the applicable state laws and your specific legal rights. As with any other divorce, filing for divorce with a common-law marriage will involve paperwork, court appearances, and mediation. Depending on the circumstances of your relationship and state requirements, your divorce process may vary significantly. It’s critical to know what options are best for you and which approach makes the most sense regarding child custody and spousal support arrangements. Working closely with an experienced family lawyer can help make sure everything is handled properly with minimal stress if you decide to go through a divorce after a common-law marriage.

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