Law School Case Brief
Clark v. Clark - 123 Colo. 285, 229 P.2d 142 (1951)
In an action for divorce in which the sole question for determination was whether or not there was a common-law marriage of the parties, it was held, under the presented facts, that such a marriage existed at the time the action was commenced, and that the trial court erred in dismissing the complaint.
At the time the parties began living together as husband and wife, both parties had living spouses from whom they were not divorced. Both parties were subsequently divorced from their former spouses and continued to live as husband and wife until the wife filed an action for divorce against the husband. The trial court determined that the parties' marriage was invalid. The case was appealed.
Did the parties have a valid common-law marriage to which the wife was entitled to a divorce ?
The Supreme Court of Colorado reversed the judgment that the parties' marriage was invalid in favor of the wife. The court held that the conclusion that a valid common-law marriage existed between the parties was consistent with the great weight of authority and imperatively demanded by justice, public policy, and the due regard for human relationships because the parties lived in mutual recognition of a marital relationship and represented among friends and neighbors the existence of that relationship. The court concluded that although the relationship was unlawful at its inception, there was proof of a specific declaration of the marital relationship by the parties, and a course of life and conduct inconsistent with any other conclusion.
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