Colorado Updates Common-Law Marriage in 2021

By Julie Nichols, contract attorney

Colorado is one of a small minority of states that recognizes both formal (marriage license) and informal (common-law marriage) paths to marriage. Through a trio of Colorado Supreme Court decisions on Jan. 11, 2021, it became the first state to update the legal standard by which a common-law marriage is established.

Colorado’s new definition of common-law marriage now uses gender-neutral language, thereby making it more inclusive of same-sex couples, and also better reflects the realities of current societal norms.  Continue reading “Colorado Updates Common-Law Marriage in 2021”

Estate Planning: Protect Yourself From Accidentally Remarrying Your Ex And Leaving Them Everything!

A recent Colorado case makes clear that you should revise your will and make your status with your ex very obvious or risk a probate case after you die. As a firm that handles divorces and wills, we know how this can play out and ALWAYS advise our clients to update their estate planning documents after divorce. The following is a tale of woe that involves someone who did not follow this advice. Continue reading “Estate Planning: Protect Yourself From Accidentally Remarrying Your Ex And Leaving Them Everything!”

Yours, Mine & Ours: Estate Planning for Married Couples

When it comes time for couples to consider estate planning, there are several aspects of it that must be looked at and decided on. Below are 16 points of estate planning that you and your spouse may need to address, depending on your situation. YoursMineOurs.Estate-Planning-for-married-couples.AndersenLawPC.4.11.16

Preserving the Estate on the Second Death: If a spouse changes their will on a second marriage, it is possible that the children of the first marriage will not get anything. This happens because the first spouse’s children from a prior marriage did not inherit; their parent’s spouse got everything. That person may well remarry and leave everything to their new spouse, not to their stepchildren from a prior marriage. To avoid this problem, communicate, use a marital agreement, use life insurance, consider QTIP trusts.

Life Insurance: You may want to get a life insurance policy to protect your children from a prior marriage, naming them or a trust protecting them if they are minors, as the beneficiary of that policy. This way you protect “yours” from the scenario set forth in No. 1. Continue reading “Yours, Mine & Ours: Estate Planning for Married Couples”

Why Estate Planning is Critical for Unmarried Couples

Why Estate Planning is Critical for Unmarried Couples Andersen Law PC

Oftentimes, people don’t think about estate planning until they’re married. But the reality is that estate planning is just as important — and in some instances more important — when you are in a relationship but not married and especially if you are not planning to be married. Here are eight reasons why estate planning is important for unmarried couples.

1. Giving Each Other the Right to Inherit: In many unmarried relationships, neither partner is entitled to inherit under the Colorado laws of intestacy. This means that if either of you dies without a will, all property that passes through probate will go to any current spouse, children of the deceased, parents of the deceased then siblings (that is a general summation). You’ll notice that romantic partner is not on this list. If you want to protect your partner, you need a will to do it.

2. Defining Whether You are Married: In Colorado, you may be “common law” married without even knowing it. This is an issue of fact in Colorado and a short consultation is the best way to go over the facts in your case. If you are at risk of being common law married without having the intention to be married, a cohabitation agreement is in order. Remember that if you are “married,” then you have rights to inherit. Continue reading “Why Estate Planning is Critical for Unmarried Couples”

Are You Married? You Might Be Surprised to Learn the Answer


Are you married? When did you get married? In Colorado, people may not know the answers to these simple questions. That is because we are in a Common Law Marriage state. Whether you are married is an issue of facts.

It’s not just whether you were married seven years  — that is not the standard. Whether or not a couple is married includes an examination of facts such as:

—   Are you cohabitating (living together)?

—   Do you hold each other out as “husband” and “wife” in public?

—   Did you complete a form that indicates that you are married?

—   Do you share bank accounts?

—   Do you list each other as beneficiaries on your insurance and other benefits programs?

The truth is that many of my clients did not know they were married until they broke up and their former partner sued them for divorce. Or, similarly, they found out they were “married” 20 years earlier than they thought. Common Law Marriage is not just a ceremony in a church or synagogue or a marriage certificate.

You could have been common law married years earlier, and if you divorce, owe maintentence or half of appreciated property values going back to an earlier estate.

A well-written cohabitation agreement will protect you from being “accidentally married.” This protects your rights as a couple, as well as your rights and assets as an individual.

Andersen Law PC: When I write your cohabitation agreement, I protect your family, your finances and your future.