E.H. and M.N. were same-sex partners from November 2001 to November 2014. Although they never formally married–even after October 2014, when Colorado recognized same-sex marriages before the U.S. Supreme Court did in 2015 with its Obergefell v. Hodges decision–they filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in Colorado’s Arapahoe County District Court. E.H. and M.N. participated in mediation, which resulted in a separation agreement confirming that they had entered into a common law marriage on December 1, 2002.

The separation agreement addressed the division of the property that E.H. and M.N. had accumulated during their relationship such as their home, furniture and household goods, bank accounts, stock purchase plans, retirement plans, vehicles, pets, and other assets. The separation agreement also addressed how their debts and obligations would be divided, and it required M.N. to pay E.H. $1,000 in monthly spousal maintenance for about seven years.

E.H. and M.N. attended the initial status conference in the district court where the judge explained to them that the court would have to first find that a marriage existed before it could consider the petition for dissolution. But the parties told the court that they had already settled all of the disputed issues in their case through mediation, so E.H. and M.N. stipulated to the dismissal of their divorce case.

Some time later, E.H. tried to obtain a portion of the retirement assets and the maintenance payments she believed M.N. owed her as part of their separation agreement. But M.N. told E.H. that she believed they were never married, which prompted E.H. to file a second petition for dissolution of marriage. M.N. then filed a motion to dismiss the petition in which she argued that she and E.H. were never married under Colorado common law.
Continue Reading The Case of the One-Sided, Purported Same-Sex Common Law Marriage that Was Not Recognized Under Colorado Law

On November 30, 2003, same-sex partners T.P. and D.L. held a ceremony before family and friends where they exchanged vows and rings. Approximately 15 years later, T.P. and D.L. ended their relationship.

T.P. filed a divorce petition in the Jefferson County District Court in Colorado asserting that he and D.L. had entered into a common law marriage on November 30, 2003, the date of their ceremony. But D.L. argued in the dissolution case that it was impossible for him and T.P. to have entered into a common law marriage because same sex marriages were not recognized or protected under Colorado law at the time of their ceremony. D.L. further claimed that he and T.P. did not mutually agree to enter into a common law marriage as required under Colorado’s common law marriage test existing at the time of their divorce case.

T.P. and D.L. participated in an evidentiary hearing in the district court where they each testified and also called several family members and friends to testify about their relationship.
Continue Reading The Case of the Same-Sex Common Law Marriage that Was Recognized Under Colorado Law