The conventional marriage is a formal, legally recognized union between two individuals, which usually requires a license. A common law marriage is a bit different; it is an informal marriage granted to parties who are living together and declaring themselves as a married couple. Colorado is one of 10 states in the country that recognize common law marriages.

In Colorado, unlike a religious or civil marriage, a common law marriage does not require a marriage certificate or a marriage ceremony. However, there are certain steps couples must take to establish a common law marriage.

Requirements for common law marriage in Colorado

So long as one of you is not married to someone else and you are not close relatives, the state will honor your common law marriage if you meet the following requirements:

  • Both of you are of legal age (18 years or older)
  • You both consent to marry each other
  • You live together (although Colorado does not require a minimum cohabitation period)
  • You hold yourselves as a married couple in public (such as referring to each other as spouse, wife or husband)

Proving you have a common law marriage in Colorado

At some point, you may need to prove that you are in a common law marriage. Cohabitation alone may not be enough to establish common law marriage should one partner deny his or her intention of being married. Often, this situation arises when a couple seeks a divorce.

Here are examples of evidence that may be used to prove common law marriage in case of a divorce, disagreement or family law dispute:

  • Joint ownership of property (including bank accounts, credit cards and debts)
  • One party using the other’s surname in their names or their children’s names
  • Filling legal documents as a married couple (insurance, taxes, mortgages, etc.)
  • Providing witness testimony that both partners referred to each other as spouses in public

Some couples file affidavits with the state verifying they are married.

If you run into a situation when you need to prove you are or were married, a family law attorney may be needed. Such issues may arise if you move to another state, are buying or selling property or are seeking a divorce or health benefits.