Colorado is one of a handful of states that recognizes common law marriage. This doctrine arose from English common law. Though most states have abolished common marriage, attempts to abolish common law marriage in Colorado have always failed. The last legislative attempt was made three years ago. However, it appears that another attempt will be made in this session this year.
Generally, prosecutors and insurance companies want to abolish common law marriage. However, some advocates for women’s rights as well as advocates for minority groups want the right to remain.
Very few lay persons understand what constitutes a common law marriage. Given the number of persons who cohabit in Colorado, it is important that co-habitants understand the possible legal ramifications. Common law marriage depends upon how people hold themselves out to the community and, most importantly, their intent. Intent is not always easy to prove and can involve some complicated factors.
If anyone is concerned about whether or not a common law marriage might be in place, they should consult an experienced family law lawyer.