Skip to main content
(866) 465-5395 Schedule a Consultation (866) 465-5395 Schedule a Consultation

Understanding Colorado Common Law Marriage and Divorce

| |

Petrelli Previtera, LLC is a family law firm with offices in Denver Colorado. We help our clients with divorce, child custody, child support, and complex property division matters. We’re committed to treating our clients like family and helping them navigate the legal waters in this difficult and emotional time.

We get many questions related to common law marriage and divorce in Denver, Colorado. In this post, we’ll explain common-law marriage and what it means to you in the event of a divorce.

common law states


Common law marriage has existed for over 150 years in the United States. Common law marriage has its roots in Medieval times. Here, due to the lack of roads and access to transportation, justices of the peace and clerks of the law could not travel to marry couples. While marriage is a legal union between two people, a common law marriage is a marriage without a formal ceremony and marriage license. As simple as this sounds, common-law marriage is a bit more complicated.


Common law marriage is characterized by four common requirements:

  1. You must be living together.
  2. You both must be legally allowed to be married, or have the “capacity to marry.” This means both parties must be 18 years old, be of sound mind, and not be legally married to someone else.
  3. Both parties must intend to get married.
  4. Both parties must represent themselves to others as a married couple. Some signs of this are having the same last name, having joint bank accounts and/or loans, filing joint tax returns, and referring to each other as “husband,” “wife,” or “spouse.”

Not many states recognize common law marriage, and some have banned common law marriage that used to recognize them.


Colorado is one of the few states that does recognize common law marriages. Here, a common law marriage is recognized if both parties are over 18, live as a married couple, and assume a marital relationship.

Simply living together does not constitute a marriage, even if it’s for decades. The amount of time a couple is together is inconsequential in the eyes of the state of Colorado. You must agree to be married and hold yourself as married to be common law, while living together.

One main problem of common law marriage is proving that you are married and the burden of proof falls on the couple. A court would need to conduct a hearing to determine where the court will decide based on the facts presented and the credibility of the evidence. Judges scrutinize these cases closely, making sure common law marriages are not self-serving, meaning the couple only claims common law marriage when it is convenient for them and claim single otherwise.

If you are claiming common law marriage, you’d better have documents and a lot of family and friends to back up your claim. This is to prevent fraud. There are many reasons one may claim to be in a common-law marriage, primarily for economic advantages. These include health insurance, joint gym membership, educational purposes, social security benefits, and life insurance purposes. Colorado does recognize same-sex common-law marriages. On the flip side, it can be hard to get on your partner’s health insurance if you are only common law married. It may behoove you to make your union formal to eliminate the hassle of the legal obligation of proving your common law marriage.


On the flip side, some couples were classified as being common law married who did not want to be, and then had to go through a legal divorce process when they separated. Furthermore, the law was antiquated in modern society. Transportation to a courthouse is generally not a problem for the majority of the population. Common law was just one more thing the often overburdened courts had to process. Since people are perfectly capable of making a marriage decision, it seems a waste of precious tax-payer dollars to process.


Once a common law marriage is established, it’s just as binding as a legal marriage. You must be granted a legal divorce and go through legal divorce proceedings just like any other married couple if you wish to separate or a partner dies, this is grounds for separation as well. If a partner dies and a common law marriage hasn’t been established previously, you’ll have to prove one existed. This applies only to those few states that recognize common-law marriage.

Petrelli Previtera, LLC, a top-notch family law firm serving Jefferson and Douglas Counties, takes the time to answer all of your questions and address any concerns you may have. We offer divorce attorney consultations for you to meet us, get to know us (and us, you), ask any questions you may have, and explain our divorce legal services. We are experts in common law marriage and divorce and are here to help with any issues you have.

With over 30 years of experience, Petrelli Previtera, LLC in Colorado are the family law attorneys who have helped many families through divorce and child custody issues efficiently and as quickly as possible so that you can close the book on that chapter of your life. We will work diligently in representing you and your desires either in mitigation or in court. We offer the best family law solutions for your needs. Contact us today for a confidential family law consultation!

Client Testimonials

They are amazing! I highly recommend anyone that is in need of assistance with child support hearings to seek out the expertise and experience of this law firm and staff! They handled my case quickly and I feel that my money was put to good use. Much appreciated! Nothing less than five stars!

Alana Deverson

I just want to say GREAT JOB! She is a no nonsense professional with years of experience that qualifies her as a skilled Family Law attorney. She is seasoned, sensitive, and most of all she cares. She made things easy for me. Definitely recommend!

Kimberly Colby

Overall I was pleased with the results of my divorce case. The entire Petrelli Previtera team truly cares about their clients. Luckily for me, I was paired up with an amazing team helping all the way. If you happen to work with this firm and with the lawyers you’ll be in great hands. It was such an excellent service and it was beyond I expected.

A Family Law Client Chevy Chase , MD

Serving Clients at the Following Locations

Bethesda4800 Hampden Lane, Suite 200 Bethesda MD 20814(301) 234-7409view details
Maryland5425 Wisconsin Ave Chevy Chase, MD 20815(301) 889-8085view details
ChicagoTwo Prudential Plaza 180 North Stetson Suite 3500 Chicago, IL 60601(312) 252-2085view details
Schaumburg1750 E. Golf Rd, Suite 382 Schaumburg, IL 60173(630) 491-9670view details
Texas500 W 2nd St Suite 1900 Austin, TX 78701(512) 883-1684view details
Seattle2033 6th Ave, Seattle WA 98121(206) 231-5789view details
Washington DC1717 K Street NW, Suite 900 Washington DC 20006(202) 519-0366view details
Denver7900 E. Union Ave. Suite 1100, Denver, CO 80237(720) 821-6440view details
Princeton475 Wall St, Suite 214, Princeton, NJ 08540(609) 917 9560view details
Linwood210 New Road #15 Linwood, NJ 08221(609) 375-0351view details
Parsippany8 Campus Dr, Parsippany, NJ 07054(973) 310-5320view details
Philadelphia1845 Walnut Street 19th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19103(215) 523-6900view details
Montgomery County516 DeKalb Street Suite C Norristown, PA 19401(610) 924-2870view details
Doylestown123 N Broad Street, Doylestown, PA 18901(267) 938-4480view details
Abington1147 Easton Road, Abington PA 19001(610) 890-4833view details
West Chester203 W. Chestnut St., Suite 204
West Chester, PA. 19380
(610) 431-4012view details

schedule a consultation Today

Contact Us Fill out the form or call us today (866) 465-5395
Skip to content