Getting Married by Common Law in Colorado

Getting Married by Common Law in Colorado

In Colorado, it is possible to get married without ever going to a Courthouse or having a formal ceremony. Unlike some other states, Colorado allows for common law marriage. To get married by common law in Colorado, the couple must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Mutually agree to be married
  2. Hold each other out to the public as being married

Cohabitation alone is not enough to establish a common law marriage, no matter how long the parties have been living together. That means, even if two people have been living together for 20 years, they are not assumed to be common law married if the other requirements are not met.

Because the agreement between the couple does not need to be formal or in writing,  it can be difficult to identify exactly when the marriage began if the couple got married by common law. If you are considering getting married by common law, writing down when the marriage started could be helpful for future reference.

There are also many ways a couple can hold each other out to the public as being married. One of the most common is for the couple to call each other “husband” or “wife”. While there is no exact thing a couple must do to be seen as holding themselves out as married, common actions include having joint bank accounts, filing taxes jointly, and making large purchases together. Because individual actions alone may not necessarily mean two people are holding themselves out as married, when determining whether there is a common law marriage, one must look at all the factors and not just one individual action.

Lastly, it is important to understand that getting married by common law has the same effect as getting married at the Courthouse or by some other formal ceremony. Spouses in common law marriages have the same rights and duties as any other married couple. Additionally, to end a common law marriage, the couple must go through the same Court process to formally dissolve the marriage and get divorced.

If you have questions about a common law marriage or want to end yours at an affordable, flat-fee cost, schedule your consultation today.


This website includes information about legal issues and legal developments. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems.

Lauren Lester is an affordable family law, estate planning, and probate lawyer licensed in Colorado.


  • Premarital agreements January 30, 2017 at 4:57 am

    this is great information. how does the upaa apply to prenups drafted in one state but enforced in another. thank you and great site.

    • Lauren January 30, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      Thank you for your question! Colorado has enacted an adapted version of the UPAA. Like the UPAA, Colorado’s statute sets out enforceability requirements for prenups. Because a prenup is simply a contract, if it meets the enforceability requirements of the state in which it was executed, it would be enforceable in another state. Depending on the language used in the prenup, however, the enforcing state may need to apply the choice of law provision in its enforcement.