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Helping Individuals With Common Law Marriage Issues in Denver

When it comes to the idea of common law marriage, Colorado is in an exclusive group. Over the years, fewer and fewer states have recognized common-law marriage. Colorado now stands with a handful of other states that give couples the benefits and recognition of marriage without the formal legal ceremony. While this does make certain aspects of life easier, it can also present challenges in others. For example, if one party considers themselves common law married and the other doesn’t, that completely changes the process of a breakup.

Whichever issues you’re grappling with, it’s time to talk to our team of divorce attorneys. Our family law team, led by attorney Robert Pomper, is ready to learn more and jump in.

Greenwood Village Common Law Marriage Attorneys Serving Denver

Elkus & Sisson, P.C. are common law marriage attorneys in Greenwood Village located just a short drive from downtown Denver. Our address is 7100 E Belleview Avenue, Suite 101 Greenwood Village, CO 80111 (open in Google Maps). Call us today at (303) 567-7981 or fill out a contact form and we will call you to schedule an appointment to discuss your family law needs.

Common Law MarriageWhat is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage isn’t a different type of relationship than a conventional marriage entered into via legal agreement. Rather, it’s a different way of getting married—once a couple is considered to be common law married, they get the same benefits and obligations as a couple that has gone down to the courthouse and signed all of the paperwork. The only way to end a common law marriage is by filing a dissolution of marriage.

There are many factors that can go into whether a couple is common law married. It is not just one thing but a totality of the circumstances.  Some examples that could lead a court to declare a couple to be common law married are if they  have lived together and held themselves out to third parties as married combined their finances, filed joint tax returns, shared insurance, view themselves as married, and act as any other married couple would act.

Colorado Common Law Marriage Requirements

The Colorado Department of Revenue Taxation Division lays out specific requirements for common law marriage. These requirements include:

  • Both are legally able to enter a marriage with each other, which excludes those who are already married, who are too young to marry, or whose familial relation to each other would prevent them from marrying
  • Present themselves to the public as married
  • Live together
  • View themselves as married
  • Both agree to live as a married couple 

You may notice that some of these are quite vague—what does it mean to present yourself as married? How do you hold yourself out as a spouse? Does this mean that every cohabiting couple is common law married? Cohabitation by itself does not create a marriage, and there are numerous ways a couple may appear married in public. That’s one of the reasons that common-law marriage is so complicated. A court has to decide whether or not a common law marriage exists; there are few hard-and-fast rules.

Factors Used to Determine a Couple’s Marriage Status

When assessing whether or not a couple is married under Colorado’s definition of common law marriage, the court will look at a wide range of factors. These relate to whether or not a couple has agreed to be married if they hold themselves out as married in society, and how much they have interwoven their lives. Factors include:

  • Joint bank accounts and credit cards
  • Filing together for health insurance, life insurance, and other benefits
  • Filing taxes as married
  • The woman using the man’s last name
  • Using each other as emergency contacts
  • Joint estate planning
  • Shared financial responsibility
  • Signs of commitment, such as celebrating anniversaries or holding informal ceremonies 

Whether an individual wants to prove that they were or were not married, these are just a few of the factors they’ll need to keep in mind. Note that testimony from outside people can be useful, but it isn’t the deciding factor. For example, if two individuals present themselves as married in public but use their separate last names, do not have an intimate relationship, and do not have intermingled finances, the court may give more weight to how the couple viewed themselves than to how the public viewed them.

It’s also important to note that some of the considerations listed above have become less important over the years as traditions have changed. Some of these factors, for example, assume a heterosexual couple and adherence to traditions like one partner taking the other’s name.

Legal Effects of Common Law Marriage

When a couple lives as a married couple and meets the requirements for a common law marriage, the law views them the same as any other married couple. This can come into play when one partner passes away, leaving the other to prove that they were married so they can inherit their share of the estate and make final decisions for their spouse’s burial. It is also important when a couple splits up; just like a marriage that started with legal paperwork and documentation, a common law marriage must be ended via divorce.

Common law married couples have to go through the same process for divorce. This can be challenging if one party believes they were married and the other does not. The Court will usually first have a hearing on the issue of common law marriage since that will affect whether other issues such as maintenance, assets and debts will be part of jurisdiction of the Court.  If the Court first determines that the parties are not married but they own assets together such as real estate, the parties will then have to seek other civil remedies if they cannot agree to how the property should be divided.

If the parties share children, the Court can still rule on the allocation of parental responsibilities even after declaring the parties have no valid marriage. If the parties are declared to be married, then the decision of the court will determine how assets are divided, whether one party will get spousal suppport, and if the partners are responsible for each other’s debt.

How Elkus & Sisson, P.C. Can Help You

Choosing Elkus & Sisson, P.C. for your family law needs in Denver can give you peace of mind and confidence in whatever may come next. With over 30 years of experience in family law, attorney Robert Pomper can navigate even the most complicated cases with empathy and understanding.

He focuses on client communication to understand your needs, explain your options, and help you choose the right path forward. Perhaps you want to prove that you and your partner are or were married for the sake of streamlining probate or divorce. Maybe you need to prove that you were not married and did not act as a married couple, but your ex is claiming that you were—either way, we’re here to fight for your best interests every step of the way.

Reach Out Today to Discuss Your Legal Options

A common law marriage consultation is your next step. Bring any documentation you have, your concerns, and your questions—we’ll take it from there. Schedule your consultation now by contacting us online or calling our Denver-area office in Greenwood Village at (303) 567-7981.