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Common Law Marriage in Colorado: Yes or No?

If you're wondering whether you have a common law marriage in Colorado, the answer might be "no." Learn more in this expert guide.

evident Editorial Team
November 28, 2023
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Common law marriage in Colorado is a recognized legal and social institution, distinguishing the state as one of the few that recognize such unions.

However, there's a fog of myths and misconceptions surrounding it. A common misunderstanding is that cohabitation for a set period automatically translates to a common law marriage, but the actual requirements are more intricate.

This guide demystifies common law marriage in Colorado, offering clarity and insights on this frequently misunderstood subject.

Key Takeaways

What is Common Law Marriage in Colorado?

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Common law marriage in Colorado is more complex than obtaining a marriage license and participating in a formal ceremony, yet it is recognized.

Historically, common law marriage existed for couples cohabiting and identifying as married but who weren't formally wed due to various constraints.

The establishment of a common law marriage in Colorado hinges on several elements, including:

  • Mutual and Open Assumption: The couple must openly behave and present themselves as married, affirming their marital relationship.
  • Cohabitation: Living together, though Colorado law does not impose a strict duration to legitimize the marriage.
  • Mutual Consent: Both parties must agree to be married and express this intention clearly.

Does Colorado Recognize Common Law Marriage?

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Yes, Colorado recognizes common law marriages.

Other states that recognize common law marriages include TexasOklahoma, Montana, Iowa, Rhode Island, and Colorado.

Couples in a common law marriage in Kansas enjoy the same rights and legal protections as those married in a ceremonial marriage. Kansas will also recognize a common law marriage recognized in other states.

By contrast, states like PennsylvaniaMichiganFloridaNorth Carolina, and California don't recognize common law marriage (some recognize old but not new common law marriages).

The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld these rights, emphasizing the legitimacy of common law unions.

To validate a common law marriage in Colorado, proof of the union is pivotal, particularly in legal contexts like property division and child support.

Proving Common Law Marriage in Colorado

Substantiating that a common law marriage exists can be complex due to the absence of a formal marriage contract or certificate.

Here's how couples can validate their common law marriage:

  • Joint Financial Documents: Evidence of joint ownership, shared assets, or joint bank accounts underscores financial interdependence.
  • Public Representation: Instances where the couple openly presents themselves as married are essential.
  • Affidavits or Testimonies: Statements from family or friends affirming the couple's marital status can be significant.

Legal Implications of Common Law Marriage in Colorado

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A recognized common law marriage in Colorado bears legal consequences akin to those of ceremonial marriages.

Here are core legal aspects associated with Colorado common law marriage:

  • Legal Recognition: Colorado and federal law acknowledge these unions.
  • Divorce Proceedings: Common law spouses must undergo formal legal proceedings to dissolve the marriage.
  • Family Court Involvement: Handles issues like property division and child custody.

Why Choose Common Law Marriage in Colorado?

Some couples gravitate towards common law marriage in Kansas instead of the traditional ceremonial route. But what drives this preference? 

Here are some reasons why couples might choose common law marriage over a formal one:

Simplicity and Spontaneity

For some, a big wedding can be overwhelming with all its planning, expenses, and ceremonies. A valid common law marriage offers a more straightforward, spontaneous way to commit to each other without fanfare.

Cultural or Personal Beliefs

Some couples feel their commitment doesn't need societal rituals to validate it. Their bond, understanding, and mutual agreement to enter a common law marriage are enough for them.

Financial Considerations

Weddings can be expensive. Couples can avoid the traditional cost of a marriage ceremony by choosing a common law marriage and instead use those funds for other joint ventures or experiences.


Common law marriages can be more private and personal. There's no need for public announcements, guest lists, or ceremonies. The commitment remains a personal matter between the two individuals.


For those unsure about the legal implications and responsibilities tied to formal marriage, common law marriage offers a chance to experience marital life without the immediate legal bindings.

Inclusivity for Same-Sex Couples

Colorado, one state that recognizes common law marriages, provided an avenue for same-sex couples to validate their relationship even before the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage.

Avoiding the Marriage "Label"

Some couples prefer not to label their relationship under the conventional terms of "married" but still want to enjoy the benefits that come with it.

Disproving Common Law Marriage

Evidence that undermines mutual consent, cohabitation, or public representation as a married couple is crucial to disprove a common law marriage in Colorado.

Gathering Evidence of Absence of Mutual Consent

One of the foundational elements of a common-law marriage is mutual consent. Both parties must agree to be married. If lacking, it can be a potent piece of evidence to disprove the marriage's existence. Couples can gather written communications, testimonials from friends or family, or other proof indicating that one or both partners never agreed or considered themselves in a marital relationship.


Cohabitation, or living together, is another significant aspect of common law marriage. To dispute a common-law marriage, one might present proof of separate residences, minimal joint living arrangements, or lack of an intimate relationship. Evidence can include lease agreements, utility bills, or statements from neighbors and acquaintances attesting to the living situations of the alleged partners.

Public Representation

The couple must also present themselves as a married couple to the public to be considered common law married. If they haven't, gathering evidence such as social media posts, public records, or testimonials can help refute claims of a public portrayal of a marital union. It is crucial to demonstrate that both parties have consistently identified themselves as single or not referred to each other as spouses.

Legal Assistance

Engaging a family law attorney is essential to effectively disprove a common law marriage. These professionals are well-versed in state-specific laws and requirements and can guide on the types and pieces of evidence that would be most compelling. They can also assist in presenting the case methodically to ensure that all legal avenues are explored and the best possible outcome is achieved.

FAQs About Common Law Marriage in Colorado

How long do you have to be together for common law marriage in Colorado?

There is no specific time requirement for a common law marriage in Colorado. The focus is more on the couple's conduct, such as mutual consent to be married, cohabitation, and public representation as a married couple.

How do you prove common law marriage in Colorado?

Proving a common law marriage in Colorado involves:

  • Demonstrating mutual consent to be married.
  • Cohabitation.
  • Presenting yourselves as a married couple to the public.

Evidence can include joint bank accounts, shared leases or mortgages, and affidavits from friends or family confirming the relationship status.

What is the law for couples living together in Colorado?

In Colorado, couples living together may be considered common law married if they have mutual consent to be married, cohabit, and publicly represent themselves as a married couple. There isn't a legal requirement for a ceremony or official registration.

What is the point of common law marriage?

Common law marriage acknowledges the relationship of couples who live together and present themselves as married but have not undergone a formal wedding ceremony or legal registration. It allows such couples to have legal recognition, granting them similar rights and responsibilities as formally married couples.

Summing It Up

Understanding the dynamics of common law marriage in Colorado is crucial for couples considering this route or those keen on comprehending their legal position. A family law attorney is instrumental in offering personalized counsel, safeguarding your rights, and clarifying responsibilities within the Colorado common law marriage framework.

In this state, where common law marriage has existed for years, partners must be well-informed, ensuring each common law spouse is aware of their rights and obligations. This knowledge aids in the mutual and open assumption of marital roles, promoting a harmonious and legally recognized union.