Because of difficulties in the distant past of locating a qualified marriage officiant, common law marriages occurred quite frequently.
Most people are familiar with old western movies where common law marriages were a feature.
Even today, some people in Denver prefer this form of marriage. The state of Colorado is one of nine remaining states that recognize it as a legally binding marriage.
This means that it is subject to the same laws that govern marriage and divorce in Denver.
Because of this, it is best to hire a lawyer who is experienced in these matters if you run into problems.
What is a common law marriage in Denver?
A traditional marriage has a ceremony, usually involving a religious figure like a pastor or priest, who “solemnizes” the marriage.
The officiant will file for a marriage license at the appropriate county office of the clerk and recorder.
In Colorado, a marriage may be solemnized by:
- A judge of a court
- A court magistrate
- A retired judge of the court
- A public official whose powers include solemnization of marriages
- Indian tribe officials
- A member of the clergy
- A third party witness
- The parties to the marriage
A common law marriage, unlike a traditional marriage, does not require any ceremony or solemnization. No matter if you enter into a common law marriage or a “traditional” marriage–you are legally married.
Common law marriage was effectively “exported” to the U.S. from the UK. In 1877, the Supreme Court ruled that a non-ceremonial marriage was a valid and enforceable marriage under U.S. law unless it was forbidden by the laws of the individual state.
While some people may regard common law marriage as less legitimate than a traditional marriage, the law views it as exactly the same. Spouses enjoy the same rights and benefits, and their obligations are the same too.
From a social security and tax point of view, for instance, the rights of a common law couple are exactly the same as those who had a ceremonial marriage.
Note that if you have a common law marriage in Denver and subsequently relocate to another state where it is not recognized, your marriage will remain valid in the eyes of the law.