Marriage Licenses: Common Law Marriage
Information provided by:
Colorado Department of Health and Environment
Center for Health and Environmental Information and Statistics
Colorado has recognized common law marriage as legal and binding since 1877 and is one of twelve states to do so. A common law marriage is established when the parties mutually consent to be husband and wife. Common law marriage does not require any license, ceremony or documentation to be legal. Parties to a common law marriage are entitled to all rights, privileges and responsibilities of a legal and binding marriage. If the parties need documentation of a marriage, it is recommended that they file a signed, notarized affidavit, attesting to the marriage, with the county clerk and recorder in the county where they reside. This affidavit will be filed as a document, not as a marriage record (sample affidavit follows). Only legal divorce or death of one of the parties may terminate common law marriage.The following are the only two requirements for common law marriage:
The following are examples of evidence of a common law marriage:
- The parties are free to enter into a marriage. Neither is married to another person.
- Both parties are of legal age (18). If either party is between the ages of 16 and 18, they shall have obtained appropriate parental or guardian consent.
The only time requirement necessary is time enough reasonably to establish these circumstances.Periods of cohabitation, without the aforementioned, do not constitute a common law marriage.
- The parties hold themselves out to the public as husband and wife
- Maintenance of a joint checking and/or savings account
- Joint ownership of property
- Mutual financial support
- Filing of joint income tax returns
- Registration as husband and wife on applications, leases, contracts, registers, etc.
- Use of the man's last name by the woman
For further information, please visit either the web site of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
or the Department of Law (Attorney General's Office)
. Sample Affidavit