Grand Rapids, MI asked in Divorce and Family Law for Michigan

Q: Can we apply for/sign a Marriage license in Michigan if we are Common Law Married in Colorado?

My husband and I declared ourselves married while living in Colorado back in 2016. We have since moved to Michigan and have decided to finally get around to having a ceremony. This will be more a renewal of vows but someone brought up signing a marriage license, since we don't have one. Is this something we could do even though we are already legally married to one another?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Interesting question! Have you been filing taxes jointly? As you probably already know, but for others' benefit who may come upon this question, common law marriage is a legal form of marriage in some states. Michigan does not allow for common law marriage, but does recognize marriages legally formed from other states. In short, assuming you have complied with Colorado law for common law marriage, your marriage would be recognized in Michigan.

HOWEVER, the very nature of common law marriage makes it susceptible to challenges. Likely, all of the people important to you know and recognize your relationship. However, problems can and do arise when one person becomes ill or dies, and relationships must be proved. I think generally it is a wise idea to formalize and document a marriage.

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