Same Sex Couple Issues
In 2015, the United States Supreme Court made same sex marriage the law of the land, extending the same rights to gay and lesbian couples as exist for heterosexual couples. This action came a year after the state of Colorado had already passed a similar state law allowing same sex marriage in 2014, and another allowing same sex civil unions in 2013.
Both of these types of domestic arrangements are recognized as legal, and this means that the same laws that apply to straight couples dissolving their marriages apply to same sex couples. That includes all of the requirements for dividing assets, calculating child support and parenting plans, spousal maintenance, and more, regardless of whether a couple previously in a civil union or took steps to obtain a marriage license. As long as one of the spouses has lived in the state of Colorado for a minimum of 91 days and the agreement between them was legally recognized in Colorado (or elsewhere) at the time, they can get a divorce, and the same may also be true for those who are in common law marriages, which have long been recognized in the state.
The state of Colorado has taken steps to address some of the more complex legal issues that may come into play when a same sex partnership that is not officially codified by marriage or domestic union comes to an end. These include:
- Psychological parent’s rights – Colorado law recognizes the rights of non-biological and non-adoptive parents, even where there is no marriage or civil union. People who have had day-to-day involvement with a child, providing care and companionship, are entitled to parenting time and to engage in essential decision making with an eye to what is in the child’s best interests.
- Unjust enrichment – Colorado provides legal relief in situations where one partner received a benefit from the relationship that would be unfair if retained after the relationship ends.
- Express contracts and implied contracts – Where a written or oral agreement was established and agreed to outlining property rights, support, or parental responsibilities and rights, or where no such agreement was formalized but was implied by mutual conduct.
- Constructive trust – Colorado provides protections against partners who have been unjustly enriched by virtue of legal title to a property at the other’s expense.
- Joint Venture and Partition – In situations where there is a joint interest in property or real property is held in common, the court will divide the property fairly.