Civil unions, a form of state recognition of a relationship between two people, were established by the Colorado Civil Union Act in March 2013, with the first civil unions created as of May 1, 2013. They bestow upon the couple in the civil union, state of Colorado benefits that are available to spouses. They do not allow for any federal benefits like pensions, social security, etc. Civil unions are not common today. They were most often entered into by same sex couples before the federal government declared a “fundamental right to marry” in June 2015, (with Colorado having lifted bans to same sex marriage in October 2014) extending marriage to same sex couples.
Following the Colorado and U.S. Supreme Court rulings, many civil unions became marriages as Colorado allowed a couple to convert their civil union into a marriage by obtaining a marriage license and following the same procedures incumbent with the license.
While there are few reasons today that any two people would enter into a civil union, it is still possible to do so in Colorado. Once a civil union is created, though, it is a legal relationship and can only be ended by a “dissolution” of the civil union—just like a divorce. One cannot just “walk away” from the civil union when the relationship is over without the likely potential for serious consequences—similar to those occurring if one tries to “walk away” from a marriage without obtaining a divorce.
A “dissolution” of a civil union looks just like a divorce and determines the same matters as a divorce. Division of assets and debts, child custody issues, maintenance (alimony) and other matters that arise in a divorce, will be determined. Just like with a divorce, the civil union may be dissolved through settlement of all the issues, partial settlement of some issues or through the Court determining matters that have not been settled. The issues a couple faces when dissolving their civil union can be complex and frustrating. Obtaining legal counsel through the choice of an attorney familiar with procedures and issues surrounding dissolutions of civil unions is important to protecting your future and your family’s well-being. At The Law Office of Jeanne M. Wilson & Associates, PC, we have the experience and ability to guide our Clients in civil unions through the dissolution process. While all cases are unique and fact specific, we always look to the ultimate goals of preserving our financial assets and minimizing harm to family and children while providing the foundation for a successful future.