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Articles Posted in Civil Unions

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stock-photo-87360451-two-hands-holding-jigsaw-pieces-to-finish-house-shape-puzzleBy: Jessica A. Bryant

One common question that arises when people are contemplating a Colorado divorce, or entering into a marriage and wanting to protect themselves for the future, is how to make sure their spouse can’t get their pre-marital or other separate property items in a divorce.

Separate property takes several different forms, including:

– Property obtained by gift or inheritance (ex: trust funds, funds received from a deceased relative, real estate received by inheritance, funds provided by gift, etc.);

– Property obtained in exchange for property owned prior to the marriage or property received by gift or inheritance (ex: trading in a car you had before the marriage for a new car, using funds from the sale of a home obtained by inheritance to purchase a new home, etc.);

– Property obtained after a decree of legal separation is entered (if you go the route of seeking a legal separation instead of a divorce, once you get that decree, property you acquire is considered separate);

– Property agreed to be separate by valid agreement of the Parties (i.e., pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements but the statute specifies the agreement must be valid so it is advised you consult with a Colorado divorce attorney before entering into and relying on such agreements to ensure validity) Continue reading

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One of the most important aspects of any divorce proceeding is who is going to retain custody of the children. For opposite-sex Colorado divorces, there are rules that have been applied and defined over the years that create settled expectations. However, as more and more same-sex couples get legally married in other states, there is a question as to how Colorado law will treat these relationships.

As a starting point, the State of Colorado does not consider same-sex marriages entered into in other states to be legally binding in Colorado. So if a same-sex couple who was married outside the state splits up while in Colorado, Colorado law will apply and will not recognize their marriage.

This can lead to situations where, if the parents had been of the opposite sex, the law would be settled. However, since the couple is a same-sex couple, the law is unsettled. This creates a difficult situation for same-sex couples because there is no way to know what to expect when splitting up.
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For years, we have listened to debates in the media regarding whether Colorado should, or should not, allow civil unions. The debate ended on March 21, 2013, when the Governor signed into law the Colorado Civil Unions Act, Senate Bill 13-011. Starting May 1, 2013, Colorado will allow civil unions. Under the new law, persons of the same or different gender will be able to enter into legally recognized unions. As civil unions are designed to be similar to marriage and allow the partners to such similar rights, it stands to reason that the new law will also have an impact in the area of divorce law. I have started researching the subject and the coming changes, not only to educate myself, but to also prepare our firm to start handling cases involving the break up of civil unions. Just like marriages, people come together and grow apart. Just like in marriages, people fight. Now, just like marriages, there will be a legal process to get people through those break ups in an orderly, and legal, fashion.

The new Act, which will primarily be contained in Colorado Revised Statues, Title 14, Article 15, is full of new definitions, rules, and procedures. The Act contains language defining a civil union, indicating who can legally enter into one, setting forth the legal process for effectuating a union, and setting forth how to get out of one. Divorce law is generally set forth in C.R.S. Title 14, Article 10. Commencing May 1, 2013, Article 10 will now contain Section 106.5, which specifically states that the procedure for dissolving a civil union will be the same as the procedure for seeking a Colorado divorce.
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