Most of us wander through life, adhering to the legalities of the land we inhabit. You’re one of us, a law-abiding citizen, or at least you think you are… The sad truth is many law-abiding citizens have misconceptions on laws, and can easily ruin their status all by mistake.
Here is Today’s Biggest Misconception:
“If you live with someone for a certain amount of time, you automatically become married under the law.”
(So untrue, and in most states couples must meet a list of factors.)
Below is a non-exclusive list of factors from our local divorce courts:
- The couple have greeting cards referring to each other as husband and wife.
- The couple takes a surname
- The couple lists one another as a spouse on insurance forms or retirement plans
- The couple files joint federal or state tax returns
- The couple hold themselves out as married to third parties, or have the reputation of being married
- The couple has taken steps to the rituals of marriage, including a ceremony, and/or the exchange and wearing of rings.
To date, not a single factor is considered paramount, but typically claiming one another as a “spouse” in order to gain a private economic advantage (joint cell phone plan, health insurance, joint gym memberships, etc.) though potentially fraudulent, is not usually sufficient to establish a common law marriage in Colorado. Again, determining factors may vary in other states, so don’t considered Colorado’s version to be the uniform law.
Here are some additional laws that many get wrong:
- Misconception: “There’s a minimum amount above the speed limit that cops have to give you before they write you a ticket.” (FALSE. Even if it is just 1 mph over the speed limit, it is ticket worthy. The speed limit is the speed limit.)
- Misconception: “The stores sell it, so it must be legal.” (Just rethink that statement.)
- Misconception: “One open bottle of alcohol is allowed in the car.” (It’s not. It’s illegal, even if there is a passenger in your vehicle. Open alcohol is prohibited in vehicles in most states.)
- Misconception: “In a manner of self defense you can use any force necessary to protect yourself.” (That’s untrue, and in most states the force is permissible only when reasonable, and non-aggressive.)
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