Colorado Estate Planning Blog

Friday, December 2, 2016

Common Law Marriage

Colorado has common law marriage, which can cause legal nightmares when an unmarried couple breaks up or one of the partners dies. Many people mistakenly believe that a couple has a common law marriage after living together for a certain period of time. Living together for a long period of time may help to demonstrate the couple's agreement to be married, but the law does not require a specific time period. If you want to ensure that you are never deemed to be common law married, you should consider signing a Cohabitation Agreement with your girlfriend. The agreement can spell out the consequences of a break up or the death of a partner, avoiding costly and protracted legal proceedings.

        It will save you some money in the long run, because the Cohabitation Agreement allows the individuals to determine in advance who will keep specific assets and what will happen to assets that have been purchased jointly if they separate or die. Cohabitation Agreements can also help you protect any assets that you may have (e.g. inheritance, property owned prior to the relationship) in the event that your ex-partner tries to say they have claim to your assets upon a breakup or death. They are useful tools to have BEFORE or shortly after you start living together. Just to keep things clear.

        Also, even if you are not living together, it is imperative that you are cognizant that you never hold yourself out as married to others. An example is a client I had recently who bought auto insurance with his girlfriend, they were not living together, but they checked the box that they were married because the premiums were less expensive.  By doing so, they became married; otherwise they were committing insurance fraud. BOTTOM LINE -  BE CAREFUL!!!


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