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Colorado common-law marriage considerations

There are a large number of reasons for opposite-sex and same-sex couples to delay and/or forgo legal marriage altogether in Colorado. No matter the reason for not obtaining a marriage certificate, it is important for people to understand when and how their relationships are regarded under the law. After all, the legal classification of a committed relationship as a common-law marriage can have significant consequences in the event that the relationship ends.

According to the Colorado Attorney General, a committed relationship can be considered a common-law marriage if it meets a number of legal stipulations, the most important of which is that both parties in the relationship consent to present themselves as husband and wife. The other elements include that the couple is able to participate in a ceremonial marriage, lives together, is recognized by the community as being married and that neither party is married to anyone else. Under Colorado state law, a couple can be considered married under common law guidelines as long as each party consents to the status of being married and the necessary evidence is present. No requirements are provided for the length of the relationship.

Given that common-law marriage extends all of the same legal protections and obligations as traditional marriage, Unmarried Equality explains that a common-law marriage can only be invalidated through divorce or death. Therefore, a common-law marriage that is established in Colorado may be recognized in another state, even if that state does not usually recognize common-law marriages. In the event that a couple wishes to live together but not be recognized under common law guidelines, each partner can outline the terms of the relationship in a legal document that clearly states his or her independence.

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