Today, Colorado does recognize the concept of Common Law Marriage. Most states do not. There is no set of hard and fast rules to determine if your relationship has become a common law marriage. There is no time limit or specific individual action that mandates your relationship to have become a common law marriage. The Court looks at numerous factors to decide if such a designation is warranted. None of these factors seem to be more important than another and it clearly depends upon your unique situation. When joint children are involved for unmarried couples, common law marriage is definitely an issue to be considered in the Court while sorting out custody issues for the children. Even with children involved, it is not automatically defined as a common law marriage by Colorado.
If after review of all the factors, the Court does find that a common law marriage exists, the divorce is treated exactly the same as is you had been legally married. There is no difference between a legally married divorce and a common law divorce. It is the exact same process. Claims of a common law marriage by one party can be successfully defeated to stay out of divorce court and avoid many property issues like paying alimony. If your situation involves a claim of common law marriage, it will be wise to hire a competent attorney to handle your situation whether you want it to be declared a common law marriage exists so you can use all the powers of the divorce court or to have the claim be denied and avoid the divorce court. Every situation is unique, call Fellows & Quenzer to determine if you have a common law marriage or steps one should consider to attempt to avoid being in an unwanted common law marriage.