Does Colorado Recognize Domestic Partnerships

October 1, 2021

The State of Colorado does recognize domestic partnerships, and there are specific steps that you can take to establish this relationship in the eyes of the law. Domestic partnerships are also called civil unions, and while a domestic partnership can be very similar to a marriage, there are also distinctions that it is important to recognize and understand. If you have questions or concerns related to domestic partnership vs marriage in Colorado, whether or not Colorado even recognizes domestic partnerships, and what the best path forward for you is, consider visiting with the experienced Colorado family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group at (720) 730-4558 (text) or (720) 463-4333 (call) today.

Understanding Domestic Partnerships

In Colorado, a domestic partnership, which is also called a civil union, amounts to a legal arrangement that two people enter into (regardless of their genders) in affirmation of their commitment to a mutually supportive and caring relationship (much like couples do when they marry). There is a legal process involved, but the criteria for entering into a domestic partnership in Colorado are the same as they are for couples who enter into a marriage in Colorado, and the basics include:

  • You must both be at least 18 years old, unmarried, and competent to enter into this legal contract
  • The law does not prohibit the two of you from marrying one another by reason of a blood relationship (or for any other reason)
  • You must share a common household with your domestic partner.
  • Neither of you can be party to another domestic partnership.

Similarities Between Marriage and Domestic Partnership

A domestic partnership has several similarities to marriage, including:

  • You and your domestic partner can file your taxes jointly.
  • You and your domestic partner can receive the other’s pension (if the situation arises).
  • In some situations, you and your domestic partner may be entitled to the other’s insurance benefits.
  • Either you or your domestic partner has the right to file a wrongful death case in the event that you lose your partner to someone else’s negligence.
  • You and your domestic partner are afforded legal privilege, which – very generally – means that you cannot be required to testify against your domestic partner and cannot be questioned on the stand regarding statements your domestic partner made during the course of your union as domestic partners.

This, however, is where the similarities between domestic partnerships and marriages end. If you are interested in learning more about domestic partnership vs marriage in Colorado, the dedicated family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group have the experience, legal insight, and skill to help you understand your legal rights and answer your questions.

Differences Between Marriage and Domestic Partnership

There are several primary and important ways in which a domestic partnership differs from a marriage.

National Recognition

Your domestic partnership will not necessarily be recognized in every state in the nation. This means that if you move outside the State of Colorado while in a domestic partnership, you will not necessarily receive the same benefits and protections that you were afforded in Colorado.

Family Ties

Domestic partners are not recognized as family members in the eyes of the law, which means that, if you and your domestic partner have children and terminate your domestic partnership, you will need to file an Allocation of Parental Rights and Responsibilities case to determine how parenting time and support will be resolved. Further, some companies that offer family members of their employees’ health insurance benefits may not do the same for domestic partners.

Immigration Status

Being in a domestic partnership does not grant either party the right to petition for a change in immigration status the way a marriage can.

Inheritance

Being in a domestic partnership does not automatically mean that either of you can automatically inherit the other’s assets without experiencing considerable tax penalties – the way spouses do. While you can employ an estate planning tool, such as a will or trust, to bequeath your assets to one another, taxes may apply that would not if you were married.

Joint Assets

Another primary difference between marriage and domestic partnership is that a domestic partnership does not lead to joint ownership of assets. If you are married, any debts or assets that you acquire are considered marital property, which must be divided between you equitably (or fairly) in the event of a divorce. If your domestic partnership ends, however, you will need to address the division of any shared property, such as equity in your home, by filing a partition case, which forces the sale of jointly owned properties and divides the proceeds between the involved parties.

Further, any debt that you take on together over the course of your domestic partnership will not be considered a joint debt if it is not in both of your names, which can leave one of you shouldering considerably more debt than the other according to the Internal Revenue Service. Finally, a domestic partnership precludes either of you from sharing your partner’s retirement benefits in the event that your partnership ends (and you are not named as a beneficiary).

Obtain the Legal Guidance of an Experienced Colorado Family Law Attorney Today

If you are weighing the pros and cons of domestic partnership vs marriage in Colorado, are facing the dissolution of your domestic partnership, or are wondering if the classification of domestic partnership even applies to your situation, it may be time to consult with the trusted Colorado family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group.

Our accomplished legal team recognizes the gravity of your concerns as they relate to domestic partnerships, and we have a wealth of impressive experience successfully guiding cases like yours toward beneficial outcomes. Your case is important and your legal rights matter, so please do not wait to text us at (720) 730-4558 or to call us at (720) 463-4333 today for more information about what we can do to help you.

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