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Civil Unions

Are Colorado Civil Unions Recognized Federally?

Civil unions in Colorado are a legally recognized way for couples to form a committed relationship, but they do not receive the same federal recognition as marriage. This lack of recognition can have significant consequences for couples in terms of their legal rights and protections.

In 2013, Colorado passed a law allowing for civil unions between same-sex couples, making it one of the first states to do so through legislation rather than a court ruling. The law provides many of the same legal benefits as marriage, such as the ability to make medical decisions for one’s partner, inherit property, and receive spousal benefits.

civil unions in the United States

What Are The Implications Of Civil Unions Not Being Recognized Federally? 

Despite the legal recognition at the state level, civil unions in Colorado are not recognized by the federal government. This means that couples in civil unions do not receive the same federal benefits as married couples, such as Social Security benefits and the ability to file joint tax returns. This can result in significant financial disadvantages for couples in civil unions, particularly when it comes to taxes.

Additionally, couples in civil unions may face challenges when traveling or moving to other states, as the legal recognition of civil unions varies from state to state. While some states may recognize Colorado civil unions, others may not, which can create confusion and difficulties for couples.

Civil Unions Are Not The Same As Marriage

It is worth noting that civil unions are not the same as marriage, and many couples choose civil unions specifically because they do not want to be married. However, for those who do wish to have the legal recognition and benefits of marriage, civil unions may not be enough.

Efforts have been made to extend federal recognition to civil unions, but so far, they have not been successful. The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, which provided marriage equality for same-sex couples but did not extend to civil unions.


Civil unions in Colorado provide legal recognition and benefits to couples, but they are not recognized federally. This can result in financial disadvantages and difficulties when traveling or moving to other states. While civil unions may be a good option for some couples, those seeking the full legal recognition and benefits of marriage may need to consider other options.

Modern Family Law

Modern Family Law’s team of experienced family lawyers takes a compassionate approach to the practice of family law. Using innovative technology to create an effective and efficient process for our clientele, our attorneys approach each case as a collective effort to find the best long-term solutions for each family. We understand the financial burden a divorce can have on an individual. As such we have created our industry-first SimpleStart™ program, providing people a chance to reduce the amount of money needed upfront to start their case. For more information please give us a call or fill out a short form online to sign up for a free consultation today! Let us make a positive difference in your life. Learn more about adoption in Colorado.

By: MFL Team

Posted April 13, 2023

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