Primary Requirements for a Legal Common Law Marriage

One of the legal issues people know about, but few understand, is a common law marriage. Most people assume that this marriage simply denotes living with your partner. You will, however, need to meet different requirements for your common law marriage to be considered legally valid.

This might not initially sound important for you, but you will run into issues later when someone challenges the validity of your marriage. As such, a family lawyer in Colorado Springs, CO, should be one of the experts you consult when deciding to enter a common law marriage.

Not only will the attorney ensure you meet the legal requirements of this form of marriage, but he/she will also check if the same is allowed in your state. Luckily, Colorado is one of the states that allow common law marriage.

The following are the four requirements for your common law marriage to have legal backing.


You and your would-be spouse should be eligible to be in a common law marriage. Some of the aspects of capacity and eligibility include age, mental ability, consanguinity, and existing marital status.

Both partners in the marriage should be not less than 18 years, unlike other forms of marriage where people below this age are allowed to marry provided their parents agree. The spouses should also have the mental capacity to make choices. The spouses should also be third cousins at most in consanguineous marriages and not be married already to other people.


You cannot find yourself in a common law marriage accidentally. You and your spouse should have a present aim to get married rather than get married in the future.

This means that you cannot enter a common law marriage because you are currently engaged and intend to get married in the future. A common law marriage means an immediate intention to get married.

Public Representation


Couples who intend to get married under common law should present themselves publicly as spouses. This means you will use your spouse’s name as your own, apply for loans as spouses, file joint tax returns, and introduce yourselves to other people as married. To this end, you cannot have a common law marriage in secret.

Living and Cohabitation

Cohabitation in common law marriages means you and your spouse continually rather than occasionally live together. Most states have no specified timeframe for you to live with your spouse to be considered married under common law marriage.

Some require you and your spouse to have continually lived together for not less than three years to be considered married. Furthermore, for you to be considered married, you should have a sexual relationship. There are no clear standards on the characteristics and extent of the sexual relationship.

With a common law marriage meeting the above requirements, you are entitled to the same benefits of formally married spouses without getting married officially. The primary difference lies in the lack of a grand wedding in a common law marriage. The common law marriage will thus suffice for those put off by the formalities of ceremonial marriages or don’t have the cash to go through these formalities.

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