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Common Law Marriage and Probate

What is common law marriage and how does it relate to probate?

Colorado recognizes the legality of common law marriage. In order to determine if a common law marriage exists, a court will look to the mutual intent and status of the parties, and to their conduct, not to the length of time a couple has lived together. Have the parties held themselves out to the community as a married couple? Have they shared bank accounts and filed income tax returns jointly?

In Colorado, there is common law marriage but there is no common law divorce. When a person dies who has been in a common law marriage, the surviving spouse may be entitled to receive proceeds of that person's estate through the laws of intestate succession. This becomes a point of contention when there are two people who each consider themselves to be the surviving spouse.