Colorado is one of 16 states that recognizes “common law marriage.” That means that couples that are living together but are not actually married in a civil marriage ceremony might still be considered “married” by the state of Colorado and a Colorado court would be able to enter orders dividing the property and debts between the couple and even ordering one to pay maintenance (alimony) to the other.
There are certain things that the couple may do that will lead to this kind of a common law marriage holding, like holding themselves out to others as being married, having joint accounts and filing joint tax returns, etc. So now that same sex marriage is legal, how will Colorado’s common law marriage decisions apply? The answer is, we don’t know.
Because gay marriage is so new, there are no decisions yet about this or any other marriage or divorce law as they might be applied to gay couples. However, most family law attorneys are of the opinion that the rules and laws will be applied the same to heterosexual couples and homosexual couples.
So what does that mean for the gay couple who do not want to be married, but just want to live together. And what if one of them has assets that they wish to protect? And what if the gay couple wants to marry, but one of them or both of them have separate assets that they wish to protect from the possible ravages of a gay divorce?
We would recommend that a gay couple contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss certain asset protection vehicles such as a cohabitation agreement if they do not wish to or intend to get married. These cohabitation agreements can go a long way to protecting the parties from being considered common law married and can protect assets from being distributed to the other party in a divorce.
Likewise we would recommend that a gay couple considering same sex marriage contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss pre-nuptial agreements before marriage or post-nuptial if they are already in a marriage to protect assets and deal with distribution of those assets to avoid having a divorce court do it for them.
If you have any questions about Cohabitation Agreements, common law marriage or prenuptial or post nuptial agreements or any other family law matters and wish to discuss any of this with one of our experienced Colorado attorneys, feel free to give us a call for a referral. The initial consultation is always free. Give us a call at (720) 457-5959 or http://familylawattorneyindenver.com