Colorado began recognizing same-sex marriages in October 2014. Less than one year later, same-sex marriages became legal across the United States after the Supreme Court of the United States decided in Obergefell v. Hodges. While this made same-sex and opposite-sex marriages equal under the law, the relative newness of same-sex marriage means that some issues continue to come up when these couples get divorced.
For example, what if the couple lived together for years before their marriage was legal? Could common law marriage apply before 2014? Or what if the couple was married in a different state before 2014, then lived in Colorado for some time before their marriage was recognized in the state? Because the length of a relationship plays an important role in divorce proceedings, the answers to these questions are essential in these cases. That’s why it’s important for anyone going through a same-sex divorce in Colorado to hire a knowledgeable divorce lawyer.
Same-Sex Divorce Process
Before same-sex marriage became legal in Colorado, the state-recognized same-sex civil unions. So there are many same-sex couples who are in civil unions rather than marriages. In general, the process of ending a civil union is the same as dissolving a marriage. Although divorcing same-sex couples may run into different obstacles than other couples, the same laws apply to all people who apply for divorce in Colorado.
Regardless of gender, couples who want to dissolve civil unions or marriages must have entered the agreement lawfully at the time. This may be an issue for couples who committed to marriage before 2014 in Colorado and never officially entered a legal marriage. Such couples may need to refer to the common law separation laws.
Furthermore, one of the following circumstances must apply:
- The couple entered into the marriage or civil union in Colorado
- At least one of the involved parties has lived in Colorado for at least 90 days
As long as your case meets these requirements, a divorce lawyer can help you take the next steps and manage all the complications of ending a legal relationship.
Types of Divorce in Colorado
No two divorce cases are alike, and that applies to same-sex couples as much as any other demographic. As such, Colorado allows for many different types of divorce proceedings. In general, you can categorize Colorado divorces into these types:
- Uncontested Divorce: Partners agree on most aspects of the divorce
- Mediated Divorce: a Denver divorce attorney acts as a third party to get both sides to agree and hope to avoid going to court
- Collaborative Divorce: both partners have their own attorneys, and they agree to avoid litigation at the beginning
- Litigated Divorce: When partners cannot agree, and the case goes through hearings and trial
What type of divorce you need depends on your wishes and the temperament of both parties.
Same-Sex Spouses Married in Other States
Several other states recognized same-sex marriage before Colorado did. As such, some couples were married in another state but live in Colorado. In order to avoid complicated legal arguments regarding the validity of the marriage, Colorado enacted a provision that requires all marriages and civil unions to be treated the same, so long as the agreements were legal at the time and place in which they happened. So long as at least one of the people in such a relationship has lived in Colorado for 90days, he or she can file for divorce in the state.