Common Law Marriage In Colorado

In Colorado, a common law marriage is one in which the couple lives together and holds themselves out to friends, family and the community as married, but never go through a formal ceremony or get a marriage license. In Colorado, a common law marriage requires that you live together, both have the legal right to marry, have the intention to marry and also, present yourself to the community as a married couple.  

The State of Colorado fully recognizes a common law marriage as having the same rights, responsibilities, privileges, and legal effect as a statutory marriage.

Determining whether a common law marriage exists requires a fact-intensive inquiry by the courts. Often, the courts will look at the following factors to determine the existence of a common-law marriage:

  • Length of time of the relationship
  • Use of the term husband/wife/partner/etc.
  • Presence/absence of joint tax returns, mutual estate planning documents, and statements/affidavits affirming the existence of a marriage
    • Testimony from witnesses regarding whether or not the couple has held themselves out as married
  • Ownership of joint property

In the case of same-sex relationships, the determination of whether a common-law marriage exists can be particularly complex. While there is no appellate-level law in Colorado providing that same-sex couples can be engaged in a common-law marriage, several courts have applied the same factors and inquiry to determine whether a same-sex common-law marriage exists.