Beginning Wednesday, May 1, couples, regardless of gender, can enter into Civil Unions in Colorado. This means big changes for same sex couples. Denver attorney and author, Kim Willoughby, in an interview on CRP.org discussed some of the changes and benefits of the new law.
Change: Break up Rules
Ironically, one of the biggest benefits of the new Civil Unions law is that it establishes the legal framework for terminating the relationship.
Breakups are often messy and difficult, but for same sex couples in Colorado it has been especially difficult. Prior to the Civil Unions law, Colorado did not recognize same sex relationships and therefore there was no way for same sex couples to use the courts to legally terminate their relationship. Kim talked about clients who have come to her for help terminating their civil union or same sex marriage from another State. Some couples had children, property, and debts together and needed a way to separate everything. Unfortunately, up until now there wasn’t much an attorney could do for these couples. Since the Colorado Constitution does not recognize these relationships, no judge could issue a piece of paper saying the relationship was legally terminated. Kim advised that it was actually best to stay out of court, which made the decision to end a relationship more uncertain and very expensive.
Now, Colorado couples in a civil union will follow the same rules as married couples if they choose to end their relationship, whether by divorce or legal separation.
Benefit: Protection of Children
Same sex couples have had a difficult time protecting their individual rights as parents and their children’s rights. In the past when same sex couples had children together they needed to get a second-parent adoption to fully establish both parent’s rights. This is an expensive and time consuming process and sometimes courts wouldn’t grant the adoption. Kim informs us in her interview that now babies born to couples in a civil union are automatically presumed to be the child of both parents.
Kim Willoughby also discusses insurance benefits and the difference between civil unions and marriage. Go to CPR.org, Colorado Matters to listen to this interview. “Same-Sex Couples Can Expect Fewer Legal Tangles Under Civil Unions”