On May 1, 2013, it became possible for same-sex couples to enter into legally recognized civil unions. As a result, members of the LGBT community can now enjoy most of the same rights and responsibilities available to straight married couples. In fact, Colorado civil unions are similar to full marriage, with the major difference being that civil unions do not provide any of the tax benefits that are available under federal law for married couples since the federal government does not at this time recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions. Now that same-sex couples can enter into legally sanctioned civil unions, they also face the prospect of having to deal with most of the same issues involved in a divorce in the event that either partner moves to end the relationship by dissolving the union.
Same-Sex Civil Unions Must Be Legally Dissolved
The fact that a civil union must be legally dissolved before the parties to the union can officially end the relationship and move on with their lives has advantages and disadvantages. Whereas before, a same-sex couple could simply break up and part ways, they will now have to go to court to petition for a formal dissolution. In the process of obtaining a dissolution, a person may have to defend against claims to their property, just as parties would in a divorce. On the other hand, each party of a same-sex union will now have a right to demand a fair share of the property that they acquired during the course of their union, as well as to the appreciation in value of assets owned by both partners. Previously, anything that was in one partner's name on the title would go with him or her, and the other partner would not have any legal recourse for claiming the other's share.
Property division in the dissolution of a civil union also applies to debts, so one person may end up being ordered to pay a portion of their partner's debts. Another major aspect involved in civil union dissolutions is that the court may now award maintenance or alimony to either one of the partners. If, during the course of the union, one partner has been financially dependent on the other, he or she has the opportunity to petition for maintenance and may end up receiving payment from the other party. The same is true of child support. Child custody may also come up as an issue in a dissolution, as does the question of visitation rights. To learn more about what to expect in the dissolution of a civil union and to find out how a Denver divorce lawyer can help, contact me at M. Trent Trani & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation.