Before you enter into a domestic partnership in Colorado, it is imperative that you understand what a domestic partnership is and what it is not. If you and your intended partner are living together and wish to be recognized legally as domestic partners, you will have to go through a registration process to make your domestic partnership official.
In Colorado, domestic partnerships are also called “civil unions” and can take place between two consenting cohabitating partners (regardless of sex or gender). Individuals consenting to a legal domestic partnership are confirming that they are mutually committed to living together within a caring relationship.
To qualify to enter into a domestic partnership in Colorado Springs, CO, both parties in the cohabitating couple must meet certain requirements. Under the law, you (and your intended domestic partner) qualify for a legal partnership only if you both meet the following criteria:
If you and your partner meet these requirements, you can proceed with registering for legal recognition. A legally recognized domestic partnership provides benefits that are advantageous to couples looking to build a life together.
The domestic partnership lawyers at Johnson Law Group are dedicated to helping couples in domestic partnerships understand their rights, protect their union, and navigate legal matters. Our lawyers have a thorough understanding of family law and are experienced in advocating for couples in all stages of domestic partnership.
We understand the complexity and nuance of domestic partnerships and how they differ from traditional marriages, and we can provide unique solutions to issues that arise in these partnerships. If you are in a domestic partnership and need legal assistance, we have qualified attorneys here in our Colorado Springs office who can provide sound advice and support on the matter.
Entering into a domestic partnership begins with registration. The first step in legalizing your partnership is registering the union with the state, which can be done at your county registrar’s office. The registration process is done via appointment, so it is best to call ahead of time to schedule a specific date and time when you and your intended partner will both be available to appear together, in person.
On the day of registration, you must both go to the Registrar’s office with a valid form of photo identification (state I.D., driver’s license, military I.D., or passport) and pay the registration fee ($25). In addition to identification and the fee for the paperwork, you and your intended partner must have proof that you live together, with documents bearing the same residential address. Valid documents include phone bills or utility bills addressed to you individually, as long as they share the same address.
Once you provide the needed verification documents and pay your registration fee, you and your intended partner will sign an affidavit stating your desire for legal recognition. Your domestic partnership will be official.
Similarities between domestic partnerships and traditional marriages include:
While marriage and domestic partnership share these similarities, it is imperative to understand the differences between the two types of legal unions. A married couple who moves out of Colorado has the security of knowing their marriage is recognized in their new home state, but couples in domestic partnerships do not have the same level of security and protection. Unlike marriage, domestic partnerships are only recognized in a few states, and there is variation regarding domestic partnerships and the qualifications for legal recognition.
Unlike in a marriage, individuals in a domestic partnership are not considered to be “family” by the law, which opens domestic partners up to challenges that married couples do not face. When parties in a domestic partnership share children and choose to separate, they must take additional legal steps to secure custody and financial support via an Allocation of Parental Rights and Responsibilities claim.
Domestic partners may also be denied medical coverage through their partner’s employer-based medical insurance because they are technically not deemed to be family under the law.
In a traditional marriage, couples can file a petition to request citizenship, but couples with domestic partners do not have that option.
Since domestic partners are not legally regarded as family members, estate issues may also arise when one of the partners dies or becomes incapacitated. Furthermore, domestic partners are not granted automatic inheritance like a traditional spouse, and any assets they receive will be subject to taxes, even with a will or trust in place.
Domestic partnerships must be officially registered in court to be legally recognized. Therefore, domestic partnerships must also be legally terminated. Under most circumstances, the termination of a domestic partnership requires participation from both parties. If both partners wish to end their partnership, they must submit a Notice of Termination to their local city clerk’s office with their signatures and the required $25 termination fee. If one partner wants to end a domestic partnership without the other party, he or she must prove they have made attempts to notify the other partner about the termination but have been unsuccessful in locating the other party.
It is important to note that if one partner dies, the domestic partnership would end, and the surviving partner would be able to move on into another relationship if/when desired. Domestic partnerships can also be terminated when one or both partners are no longer meeting the requirements in the partnership affidavit.
A: The only way to validate a legal domestic partnership in Colorado is to have both parties sign an affidavit swearing that they both consent to the partnership. The affidavit is specifically intended to prove you and your domestic partner intend to remain committed to one another and mutually vow to care for and provide support for one another.
A: Yes, domestic partnerships are legally recognized in the state of Colorado. Once both parties have gone through the process of officially registering the partnership, they are eligible to take advantage of the benefits of official recognition for applicable insurance and tax purposes. To learn more, please feel free to speak to a domestic partnership attorney from our team about having a free consultation.
A: Domestic partnerships and marriages have several major differences. Unlike marriage, domestic partnerships are not recognized in all 50 states. This means that individuals in domestic partnerships may face obstacles that married couples do not once they cross state lines. For example, domestic partners are not guaranteed universal acceptance under their partner’s medical insurance and are not guaranteed automatic inheritance of assets or death benefits if their partner should die.
A: Colorado is one of 11 states that recognize common law marriages and domestic partnerships. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are legally not the same. The process for qualifying for a domestic partnership also differs from qualifying for a common law marriage. Domestic partners need to register to be legally recognized in the state, but common law spouses do not need documentation to be legally recognized. Common law marriages also afford couples more benefits than domestic partnerships, including tax exemptions and social security benefits.
A: The short answer is, “No.” Domestic partnerships are only recognized in a handful of states, so once a couple in a domestic partnership leaves their state, there are no guarantees that they can share benefits or engage in civil matters the way they are able to do in their respective state of legal recognition.
We understand that while some couples don’t wish to be legally married, they do wish to officially recognize their union in other ways and support one another. If you and your partner need help with registering, validating, or terminating your domestic partnership, the attorneys at Johnson Law Group can help. Our team is a stellar group of experienced family law attorneys who have a comprehensive understanding of legal domestic partnerships.
If you want to know more about the registration process or your rights as an officially recognized domestic partner, please contact our Colorado Springs office to request a free consultation today. A member of our legal team would be happy to assist you with making an appointment to address your concerns and help you better understand how to navigate your legal domestic partnership.