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Marriage in Colorado

Colorado recognizes traditional and common law marriage as well as civil unions.

License

A traditional marriage requires a license which can be obtained from the county clerk and requires the signatures of both parties to be married. The parties must each be at least age 18. However, a person who is 16 or 17 may marry with parental consent. Under certain circumstances, those under age 16 may marry with parental consent. The marriage must then be solemnized by a judge, retired judge, magistrate, certain public officials, or a religious leader.

Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage occurs when two people agree to be married and hold themselves out to others as husband and wife. Cohabitation alone does not establish common law marriage. A Court will examine a number of factors to determine whether a common law marriage exists in the event of a dispute.

Civil Unions

Same- and opposite-sex couples may enter into a civil union in Colorado. A civil union is essentially the same as marriage.

  • Civil union partners are regarded as immediate family members on legally binding documents.
  • Civil union partners receive state spousal employer benefits including healthcare, survivor benefits, unemployment coverage, and protection under the Family Medical Leave Act.
  • Spousal privilege protections apply to those in civil unions.
  • A civil union partner is considered a spouse for probate proceedings, i.e. wills, inheritances, and trusts.
  • Civil union partners can enter into pre- and post-nuptial agreements
  • There is a presumption of paternity for any child born during the civil union.

However, because the federal government does not recognize civil unions, civil union partners are not eligible for federal benefits to include income tax filing status, survivor benefits, retirement pensions, or spousal social security.

Spousal Privilege

Society protects the marital relationship and spousal communications. This relates in part to the constitutional right to privacy in family relationships. When parties are in a marriage or civil union, they can not be compelled to reveal their confidences to each other without the consent of the testifying party. There are some exceptions, however. For example, the privilege does not apply when spouses are in civil or criminal adversarial proceedings against each other.

Declaration of Invalidity (AKA Annulment)

Generally if two people marry and they no longer wish to be married, they must file for dissolution. There are some situations, however, where a marriage might be invalidated or annulled.

  • One party lacked capacity to marry because of age, mental capacity, or the influence of mood-altering substances.
  • One party could not consummate the marriage and the other party was not aware at the time of marriage.
  • The marriage was induced by fraud.
  • The marriage was entered into under duress.
  • The marriage was a result of a "jest or dare."
  • The marriage was prohibited by law, such as when one party is already married to another.

If you have questions about Colorado marriage, contact JLaw LLC for a free case assessment to determine what your legal options are and how we might assist. We can be contacted at 303-210-4204.

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