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Marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships each fulfill a different need for partners who want to build a life together. The state of Colorado is one of only five that legally recognize civil unions and give equal weight to civil unions and marriages.

At Jones Law Firm, PC, in Denver, Colorado, we offer a wide range of family law experience, including civil union procedures, benefits, and limitations. Below, our team shares more about civil unions. For a consultation or more information, please contact us today at 303-799-8155.

What Are Civil Unions?

In the states that recognize civil unions as binding relationships, civil unions are like marriage. Partners in a civil union enjoy the same protections as married couples, including:

  • Immediate family designation for all legal documents
  • Spousal benefits from employers, including unemployment benefits, medical insurance benefits, survivor benefits, and protection through the family medical leave act (FMLA)
  • Provision that neither partner will have to testify against the other in court
  • Adoption or fostering of children
  • Adoption of their partner’s child through a stepparent adoption, just like with married couples

The difference between marriage and civil union is that the federal government recognizes marriage (but not civil union), and married spouses can enjoy federal benefits like joint tax filing, federal survivor benefits, spousal social security benefits, and more. Only states that recognize civil unions will offer spousal benefits to partners in a civil union.

In contrast to marriages or civil unions, domestic partnerships offer limited benefits to partners. They may receive a pension, health insurance coverage, and file state or local tax returns together.

A domestic partner can pursue damages for the wrongful death of their partner, and like married couples and civil unions, domestic partners do not have to testify against one another.

Does Colorado Recognize Civil Unions?

Yes, Colorado recognizes civil unions. However, since the legalization of same-sex marriage in Colorado, many more same-sex couples are choosing to marry their long-time partners rather than enter into civil unions (which were previously the preferred legal partnership for same-sex couples).

In the state of Colorado, civil union partners:

  • may marry the same partner without the dissolution of the civil union
  • must divorce or obtain a legal separation if dissolving the union, just like married couples
Can People in Same-Sex Relationships Form Civil Unions?

Yes, people in same-sex relationships can form civil unions in Colorado. Colorado was also one of the first states to legally recognize same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015, which determined the right of couples of any gender orientation to marry.

To receive federal spousal benefits, however, same-sex partners must marry. However, they may receive state benefits and many other marriage-equivalent benefits in a civil union.

We encourage you to speak with an attorney at our firm, with experience in civil union law, for more about rights in a civil union compared to marriage.

Contact Jones Law Firm, PC, to Establish a Civil Union in Colorado

Turn to our experienced team of family lawyers at Jones Law Firm, PC, for more information about civil unions in Colorado. Our team can explain the different forms of recognized partner agreements in Colorado and the benefits and detriments of each.

Call us at Jones Law Firm, PC, today at 303-799-8155 or contact us online for help with civil unions in Colorado.

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I cannot be more happy with the April Jones Law Firm! I hired her in 2012 for disputes over child support and other items, we had to go to court 3 times on separate matters and every time we were successful. April is very knowledgeable of the law and will not let you down. If I ever need a family law attorney I will call April Jones.


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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.
This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Our team includes attorneys licensed to practice in multiple states including April D. Jones in California, Patrick G. Barkman in Texas, the Cherokee Nation, the Northern District of Texas, and the District of Colorado (United States Court of Appeals 10th and 5th Circuit).