Does Common Law Marriage Affect Spousal Maintenance?

Posted by Gordon Shayne | Mar 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

In many divorce cases, an ex-spouse will receive spousal support for a duration of time. This financial obligation can be re-assessed for a variety of reasons, including financial hardship of the supporter and any evidence that contradicts the need for financial assistance.

A common law marriage can most certainly terminate the need for spousal assistance. But, your divorce attorney will need to prove that the relationship in question is in fact a common law marriage.

The Evidence for Common Law Marriage

In the state of Colorado, common law marriage is recognized as equally veritable as a marriage created in a civil or religious ceremony. The marriage statute only states: “Nothing in this section shall be deemed to repeal or render invalid any otherwise valid common law marriage between one man and one woman.” (C.R.S. 14-2-104.3).

Over the years, Colorado divorce cases have set the precedent for determining common law marriages. Common law marriage requires that the couple:

  • Cohabitate (for no specific period of time)
  • Mutually consent to being married
  • Express the identity of a married couple to the public

These requirements can be demonstrated in a number of ways, including:

  • Filing joint tax returns
  • Shared financial accounts
  • Affidavits of friends or coworkers confirming the marriage
  • Cohabitation agreement (such as a lease or mortgage)
  • Registering the common law marriage at the county courthouse

With the exception of being 18 and cohabitating, Colorado law does not place any real restrictions on the definition of common law marriage. It is truly a case law matter that requires the guidance of an experienced attorney in order to prove.

Spousal Maintenance Hearings

In order to confirm the existence of a common law marriage, the court will hold an evidentiary hearing in which both parties can present their case. Gordon N. Shayne is an experienced attorney who can help you through this process, providing the legal representation you need to protect your assets. He has intense knowledge of the case law for common law marriage and can help you reach a resolution in a timely manner.

Putative Spouse Statutes

It is important to note the presence of the “putative spouse” statute in Colorado, which can prevent the acquisition of spousal maintenance rights, even if the marriage is common law. If a spouse is cohabitating with someone else while maintaining a legal marriage, they are known as a “putative spouse.”

The “putative spouse” has the right to pursue spousal maintenance, but only when the status of “putative spouse” has terminated. Divorcing spouses should live independently in order protect their legal rights.

Contact a Spousal Maintenance Attorney

Whether you are defending your right to alimony and deny the existence of a common law marriage or need to terminate unnecessary spousal maintenance, Gordon N. Shayne is committed to helping you achieve your desired outcome. Contact us today to schedule your FREE consultation to protect your spousal maintenance rights!

Disclaimer: The blogs posted on are offered for informational purposes only. These blogs are not a solicitation for legal business and should not be construed as providing any legal advice or legal opinions as to any specific fact or circumstance.   Specific legal issues, concerns and conditions always require the advice of an appropriate legal professional. To obtain legal advice or opinions about Colorado family law, personally consult with a licensed Colorado attorney.

About the Author

Gordon Shayne

Gordon N. Shayne Family Law / Divorce Lawyer Phone: (904) 544-6855 Gordon N. Shayne's field of practice is devoted to Family Law/Divorce case throughout the State of Colorado.


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With over 35 years of experience, Mr. Shayne has had a legal career fighting for the rights of his clients while focusing his practice exclusively on Divorce, Child Custody and other Family Law Matters. Our services are available throughout the State of Florida.

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