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Denver Civil Union Attorney

The Colorado Civil Union Act provides the opportunity for same-sex couples to enter into civil union relationships that are recognized under Colorado law in much the same way as marriage. If you are considering entering or ending a civil union with your partner, it is important to consult a Denver family attorney to discuss your rights, obligations, and legal options.

The similarities and differences between common law marriage, domestic partnerships, and civil unions can make these relationships difficult to understand. While every situation is unique, below we answer some of the most common questions clients ask us about civil unions.

What is a civil union in Colorado?

A civil union is a legal relationship similar to a marriage that may be entered into by couples of the same sex as well as couples of the opposite sex. In a civil union, two partners enjoy the same benefits and protections under state law as they would in a traditional marriage.

Partners in a civil union are considered spouses eligible for employer benefits, inheritance rights, and family law matters. However, while civil unions essentially provide partners with the same rights and responsibilities as married spouses under Colorado law, many federal benefits extended to spouses do not apply to partners in a civil union.

How do you apply for a civil union in Colorado?

To enter into a civil union, both parties must complete an application for a civil union license. The partners file the application with the County Clerk and Recorder and pay the required fee. After the Clerk issues a license and certificate, the parties have 35 days to have the union certified before the license expires.

A union may be certified in the same way a marriage is performed, with a judge or clergy member performing the certification. Within 63 days of the certification, the civil union certificate must be taken to the County Clerk and Recorder for official registration.

What rights do you have when you are in a civil union in Colorado?

In a civil union, spouses enjoy most of the same rights, benefits, and protections as any other married couple. These can include:

  • Healthcare benefits
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Family leave benefits
  • Inheritance rights
  • Rights regarding healthcare decisions
  • Adoption rights

In the eyes of Colorado law, civil union spouses are equal to spouses married by traditional means. However, under current interpretations of federal law, civil union partners are not entitled to spousal benefits for federal programs.

What are the rights of parents in civil unions in Colorado?

Some of the most important factors to consider before entering or ending a civil union involve parental rights. If you and your partner adopt a child together, both of you will become the legal parents of the child. When one partner bears a child after entering a civil union, the other partner has presumed paternity rights. However, it may still be advisable for the non-biological parent to formally adopt the child to ensure that there are no legal challenges to the parent-child relationship in the future. In situations where either partner already has a child at the time they enter the civil union, the other partner may adopt using the same stepparent procedures as those used by married couples.

Can we create a prenuptial agreement before a civil union?

Couples planning to enter into a civil union can have a family law attorney prepare a prenuptial agreement. Such agreements are not only for the wealthy; they can add strength and stability to any relationship by clearly and unequivocally setting out the economic rights and responsibilities of each partner.

A prenuptial agreement can describe how any shared property will be divided and whether either party may be held responsible for alimony. It may also include terms assigning responsibility for paying certain expenses during or after the union.

Do civil unions need a divorce?

Like marriages, many civil unions end in divorce. (I would can civil unions can end in divorce).

Termination of a civil union is accomplished through a process referred to as dissolution. A civil union is dissolved in generally the same way as a marriage. Couples will need to resolve issues such as child custody and division of property.

If you are dissolving your civil union, it is a good idea to work with an experienced family law attorney who can fight to obtain your rightful share of assets and property which you and your partner have acquired together. A dedicated legal advocate could also help secure parental rights regarding custody, visitation, and child support.

Contact a Denver Attorney to Discuss Your Rights Under Colorado’s Civil Union Law

Whether you are planning a civil union, seeking to convert a civil union to marriage, or trying to end your civil union, it is important to know your rights and how to protect them. For a free consultation to explore your options with regard to civil unions, contact Jones Law Firm, PC today.

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Latest News & Information

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Meet Our Team

Meet Senor Attorney Erin Mullen. Erin has been practicing law since 2000. Before moving to Colorado, she practiced as an Administrative Law Judge, an Assistant Public Defender, and an Assistant Attorney General in Louisiana. Erin has a passion for assisting families through the difficulties of the dissolution of the marriage process. She has served as lead counsel in numerous child custody, divorce, and relocation matters throughout Colorado. Learn more about Erin.   Meet Senior Attorney Michael Ruiz. Michael …

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When you find out your spouse is cheating, you might be feeling many emotions like anger, hurt, betrayed - you may even want to reciprocate. Getting back at your partner may sound like a good idea to you and your friends, but here are five things you should NOT do: Do not tell your kids. It’s possible they already know. You may need to seek a counselor to get them through this tough time. It …

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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), and Stuart Wallace in Illinois.