On March 18, 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed into law the Civil Unions Bill, which goes into effect May 1, 2013, making Colorado the 9th state to allow civil unions. Some people believe the term “civil union” is synonymous with “marriage,” but they are actually quite different. The differences include the availability of Federal benefits such as FMLA and Social Security survivor benefits; various State and Federal tax implications; whether the union will be recognized in other states and countries; and the ability to sponsor a spouse in an immigration proceeding, just to name a few.
Despite these differences, Colorado has mandated one important similarity: Dissolution of a civil union must be performed pursuant to the Uniform Marriage Dissolution Act. This means that partners of a civil union must obtain a legal divorce or legal separation, just like spouses of a marriage. While many aspects of a civil union dissolution will not be different from that of a divorce, there is widespread anticipation as to how courts will treat property and spousal support claims for relationships that started long before they became legal, and how the courts will handle the nuances of parental rights depending on the child’s conception or adoption.
You can view a copy of the Bill by going to www.leg.state.co.us and search Senate Bill (SB) 13-011.