Are You Common Law Married?

By: Hannah Jannicelli, Jones Law Firm, P.C.

Even if no one walked down the aisle, and no one said, "I do", you still could be married in the state of Colorado. So, before you file a custody case against your former partner, read this article to make sure that you don’t need to file for a divorce.

Historically, the practice of common law marriage was very popular in the western United States. This was because couples could not afford to travel a great distance for a marriage license. Now, even though travel is not a burden on most Coloradans, common law marriage continues to be recognized in the State of Colorado.

To be common law married you must meet the following five requirements:

  • Be between a man and a woman,
  • Each party is eighteen years or older,
  • The parties lived together,
  • Mutually agreed to be married,
  • And Openly held yourselves out as a married couple

The Court considers the following factors when determining if the parties held themselves out as a married couple:

  • The couple referred to themselves as married.
  • The couple filed jointly for federal or state tax returns.
  • The couple had joint finances, such as joint bank accounts, or owned property together.
  • The woman took the man’s surname.
  • The couple received joint public benefits

When the Court considers these factors, none of these factors are more important than another. If one or more of these factors apply to you, you may be common law married. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as common law divorce. Therefore, the only way for you to divorce your spouse is filing a petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Court.