How can I prove a common law marriage?

Question: I have been divorced for a couple years and my ex is now living with another man. There are numerous indicators that they are married (both wear rings, they’re renovating their home, they go on trips with my kids, I have proof of joint financial decisions, etc.) but she refuses to admit she is married so that she can continue to get me to pay maintenance.

How often is anyone successful at proving common law marriage these days?

Answer:

First let me preface my answer by stating that I am not licensed to practice law in the state of Colorado, although Cordell & Cordell, P.C. does have attorneys who are licensed in Colorado, who would be happy to discuss your case with you.

Common law marriages are not recognized in all fifty states, in fact less than half of all states recognize a common law marriage. If you do live in a state that recognizes common law marriage, then the general test that the Courts use is if the couple hold themselves out to be married (i.e. telling people they are married, living as a married couple, etc….) The test will vary from state to state so you will need to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable on the laws of your state and what factors the Court will consider regarding a common law marriage.

Some states have laws that if your ex-spouse is merely cohabitating with a member of the opposite sex, such as a boyfriend, then maintenance can be modified on that ground. You will need to consult an attorney in Colorado to see if the Court will consider cohabitation as a viable factor.

 

Jason Bowman is an attorney in the Louisville, Kentucky office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. He is licensed in the states of Kentucky and Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Louisville, and received his Juris Doctor from Texas Wesleyan University.

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