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In re Marriage of Hogsett and Neale.

2021 CO 1. No. 19SC44. Common Law—Divorce—Marriage and Cohabitation.

January 11, 2021

The Supreme Court revisited the test for proving a common law marriage that the Court articulated over three decades ago in People v. Lucero, 747 P.2d 660 (Colo. 1987). Because many of the indicia of marriage identified in Lucero have become less reliable, particularly in light of the recognition of same-sex marriage and other social and legal changes, the Court refined the test and held that a common law marriage may be established by the mutual consent or agreement of the couple to enter the legal and social institution of marriage, followed by conduct manifesting that mutual agreement. The core inquiry is whether the parties intended to enter a marital relationship—that is, to share a life together as spouses in a committed, intimate relationship of mutual support and obligation.

In this case, the Court applied the refined Lucero test and concluded that no common law marriage existed. The Court therefore affirmed the Court of Appeals’ judgment.

Official Colorado Supreme Court proceedings can be found at the Colorado Supreme Court website.

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