Zweig Law, PC Attorneys at Law

What does it mean to get married under common law?

Some couples who have been together for a long period of time may joke that they are in fact “common law” married.

As it turns out, they might be right.

Colorado, along with eight other states, still recognizes common law marriage as valid “for all purposes.” What does marriage under common law look like?

Common law marriage

Common law marriage gets its name from the common law of England. The country recognized marriages formed without ceremony as valid.

In essence, common law marriage occurs when a couple considers themselves married but do not undergo an official marriage.

Although there are a few standards to meet for a common law marriage, in Colorado these marriages are as binding as formal weddings.

How to get common law married

In order to be common law married, a couple must:

  • Be free to contract a valid ceremonial marriage. This means that neither party can already be married to someone else.
  • Consent to the marriage. Both must agree that they are, in fact, married.
  • Live together.
  • Have the reputation in the community as being married.

Some states require that the couple have lived together for a certain length of time. Colorado does not.

If a couple meets all of the standards listed, they are legally married. Congratulations!

Common law rights

If you enter into a common law marriage, you have the same partnership rights as couples who have been ceremonially married.

Under Colorado law, you are entitled to shared employer health insurance benefits under common law.

You can also have joint taxes and inheritance through common law union.

Ending a common law marriage

Like traditional marriages, common law marriage can only be annulled through death or divorce.

Too often a couple will agree to marriage through common law and mistakenly believe it isn’t as serious as a conventional marriage.

To the state of Colorado, a common law marriage is just as valid as a traditional one and should be treated as such.

If you have any questions about common law marriages and the steps required to end these agreements, a qualified divorce attorney can help.

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