What is a Civil Union?
In Colorado, a civil union is a legal partnership between any two unmarried, unrelated adults, regardless of gender. A couple in a civil union have the same rights and protections they would have within a marriage, but they can be two women or two men, instead of the “one man and one woman” couple that is currently required for a Colorado marriage.
How to Enter a Civil Union
It is best to use a Colorado civil union attorney to guide you through the process. To create a civil union, you need:
- a license from the county clerk and recorder
- proof of eligibility to enter a civil union (i.e., you’re of age, not married or in another civil union, not too closely related, etc.)
- an authorized party to certify the license within 35 days
- the appropriate fees
- to submit the certified license to the county clerk and recorder within 63 days of certification
Your Rights and Responsibilities Within a Civil Union
While a civil union and same-sex marriage are not the same thing, your rights in a civil union are the same as those afforded to married couples. Those rights are protected by the Colorado Civil Union Act of 2013. This includes the right to:
- Inherit joint property if your partner predeceases you (rights of survivorship)
- Assume financial responsibility for your partner
- Be treated as a spouse in wills, trusts, estates, etc. (e.g., you can’t be excluded from your civil partner’s estate)
- Receives the same benefits under employment laws, including worker’s comp and unemployment benefits, that a spouse would
- Make medical decisions for your spouse in the event they are incapacitated
- Adopt or be the legal parent of a child or children, and have the increased parental rights that come with that
This is not an all-inclusive list. Contact Colorado civil union attorney Tammy L. Akers to learn more about these rights and many others that are included in Colorado civil unions, especially those related to income and other taxes.
Exiting a Civil Union—Same-Sex Marriage Divorce?
Another change the Colorado Civil Union Act made to Colorado law was regarding civil union separations. Civil union separations are now handled the same as a divorced for a married couple—same-sex or otherwise. Separation, child custody/support, division of property, attorney fees, etc., have to be negotiated and agreed upon.
Similarly, just as you would hire an attorney to manage your divorce and you should hire a Colorado civil union attorney to guide you through the civil union dissolution process—it can be just as complicated.
Whether you’re looking to enter a civil union or exit one, get in touch with Law Firm of Tammy W Akers, LLC. today to get the qualified legal representation you need.