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Ask Dimitry K., Esq. Your Own Question
Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
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I know that common law marriage is recognized in Colorado and

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I know that common law marriage is recognized in Colorado and Alabama.

Situation:
My ex girlfriend lived with me for 5 years in Colorado (we met in Colorado). During that time we filed our taxes jointly one year. It's my understanding that we meet the requirements of common law marriage in Colorado. In 2010 she left me and moved back to Mississippi and I stayed in Colorado. Recently she moved in with a new boyfriend in Alabama. Now in December of 2012, she called me requesting a divorce.

Questions:
Doesn't she need a marriage certificate from Colorado before filing for divorce in Alabama?
If she wanted a divorce and I didn't. Would she have to file in Colorado?
Would it be easier for us to file for divorce in Colorado?
Am I wasting my time and money getting divorce? So far creditors and the government don't see us as being married.

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

I understand the situation--please permit me to respond to each of the questions you have posted below.

Doesn't she need a marriage certificate from Colorado before filing for divorce in Alabama?
Not quite, in a common law marriage the presumption that parties have fulfilled the common law marriage requirements is sufficient. The other party would have to introduce evidence that the parties were married under the local statute and acted as if they were legally married.

If she wanted a divorce and I didn't. Would she have to file in Colorado?
No, she can file in Alabama provided she obtained residency there. Residency requires 180 days of living in that state. When spouses divorce, they can file either whether one spouse resides OR where the other spouse resides, meaning that if she has been there long enough, she can file locally.

Would it be easier for us to file for divorce in Colorado?
That is hard to say. It likely would be easier for you since you would need less travel, but in terms of common-law grounds either state would still utilize the laws of the initial state (Colorado) to figure out if the relationship could be considered a common-law marriage. The laws are different in each state but in terms of convenience Colorado would be easier for you and Alabama would be easier for her.

Am I wasting my time and money getting divorce? So far creditors and the government don't see us as being married.
You can simply contest her petition on grounds that you aren't legally divorced and also since you've lived apart for a significant amount of time, it may negate the argument that you were engaged in a common law relationship based on how you ended up splitting up yourselves. This may well be a waste of money unless she wishes to divorce you as a means of obtaining assets or other benefits such as spousal support.

Good luck.

Dimitry K., Esq. and 2 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you