Colorado recognizes common law marriage when a couple has been living together and holding themselves out to the public as married, even if they never had an official wedding or applied for a marriage license. Common law marriage in Colorado has the same legal effect as traditional marriage. Therefore, common law couples must get divorced in the same way as traditionally married couples.
Determine whether you have been in a common law marriage. There is no hard and fast rule, but the three top elements in Colorado are cohabitation, mutual agreement to be married, and holding yourselves out to the public as being married. Other factors to be considered are how taxes are filed, bank accounts are kept, and whether the couple share a last name.
Discuss with your partner issues such as child custody, support, and property division. If you are able to come to an agreed settlement, you will both save a lot of money in attorneys fees.
Sign a divorce agreement with your partner if you can come to an agreement. Outline the obligations of the parties such as who will take care of the children and how property will be divided. If you are unable to come to an agreement with your partner, you will need to seek the court's assistance in resolving property or child custody disputes.
File for divorce with the local Colorado district court. If you fail to formally file for divorce from a common law marriage in Colorado, you will remain married, and any subsequent marriage will be void and in violation of bigamy laws. The court will set a hearing to determine how the divorce should be terminated and the details of property distribution. If there are children involved, there will likely be a separate hearing or series of hearings to determine custody. If the divorce is not amiable, then you will likely need to hire an attorney to help you through the process--especially the child custody issues.
Attend all hearings set by the court related to your divorce. If you are unable to attend, move the court to reschedule. When attending the hearings, bring all documentation to show when the marriage began and why you are entitled to certain property rather than your spouse. If you owned property prior to the common law marriage, or inherited property individually during the marriage, bring documentation to show that you paid for maintenance of that property with your own separate earnings for the duration of the marriage. If possible, bring documentation to show that the property was not used for the benefit of the marriage.