The Colorado legislature authorized civil unions in 2013. A year later, the United States Supreme Court and the courts of Colorado recognized same-sex marriage. Many Coloradans are still living under civil unions created before they had the legal right to marry. Others intentionally opted to enter a civil union in lieu of marriage.
The family law attorneys of Hogan Omidi, PC, are well-versed in this niche area of the law. We can counsel you on dissolving a civil union. Based in Denver, we represent individuals throughout the state.
What Is A Civil Union?
As defined in Colorado, a civil union is a legally recognized relationship established by two eligible persons, regardless of the gender of either party. To establish a civil union under Colorado law, both parties must be adults. Neither person can be a party to another civil union (in Colorado or elsewhere), and neither party can be married to another person. Persons of the same sex or opposite genders can enter into a civil union.
Protections And Limitations Of Civil Unions
Partners in a civil union are granted most of the same rights and protections as married spouses. Note, however, that the state of Colorado does not have the power to grant parties to civil unions the benefits, protections, duties or obligations that are purely a matter of federal law. As a result, to the extent that federal law does not recognize civil unions, there may be federal benefits, duties and the like that do not apply to civil unions.
Partners in a Colorado civil union are treated the same as spouses for all legal purposes (spouse, immediate family member, dependent, heir, etc.). Parties to a civil union are obligated for the financial support of each other as married spouses would be. Laws relating to title and survivorship, or other matters relating to the acquisition, ownership, or transfer of real or personal property also apply to parties to a civil union in the same way as they apply to spouses. Legal causes of action related to or dependent upon spousal status are available to parties to a civil union. Also, prohibitions against discrimination based upon spousal status apply with equal force to parties to a civil union.
Dissolving A Civil Union
Prior to the enactment of the legislation relating to civil unions there was no clear procedure or predictable resolution when parties to a domestic partnership or any other long-term relationship ended the arrangement. Now the laws of domestic relations apply to the legal termination of a civil union. This includes all responsibilities and family law proceedings that would apply when married parties divorce, including:
- Legal separation and dissolution
- Child custody and parenting time
- Child support and maintenance (alimony)
- Equitable distribution of property acquired during the civil union
- Awarding of attorney fees
These proceedings may be available to parties in Colorado even if the civil union was formalized elsewhere.
At Hogan Omidi, PC, we recognize that dissolving a civil union is every bit as complex and emotional as a divorce. Our lawyers can advise you about your rights and duties as well as the applicable procedures to end a civil union in Colorado.
Modifying The Terms Of A Civil Union By Agreement
Parties to a civil union may sometimes wish to modify the terms or conditions of the civil union and/or the financial or other results, which would apply on the termination of the civil union, whether through legal dissolution of the relationship or the death of one of the parties. Parties to a marriage have the legal ability to achieve such results by way of a marital agreement, sometimes also referred to as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Similarly, parties to a civil union may create agreements modifying the terms, conditions or effects of a civil union in the same manner and pursuant to the same statutory provisions.
The ability to modify the terms of the civil union could be particularly useful to couples who had been together for many years before entering into their civil union. Such an agreement could provide a way to formalize expectation and understandings relating to the assets and obligations accumulated both prior to and during the civil union.
The lawyers at Hogan Omidi, PC, can provide assistance in drafting agreements to modify the terms, conditions or effects of a civil union.
Contact Us Today To Discuss Your Civil Union Issues
Domestic relations law is the sole focus of our firm. We serve clients throughout Colorado. Call our law office at 303-691-9600 or contact us online to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.