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Family Law

Gay Marriage is Finally Legal in Colorado!

On October 7, 2014, gay marriage was legalized in the Mile High state. Paradoxically, that happened because the United States Supreme Court…. did nothing. Lower federal courts in Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, and several other states had found that marriage bans were unconstitutional and should not be enforced. The States appealed but the United States Supreme Court refused to take up the issue (they get to pick and choose which cases to hear). Therefore, the lower court rulings stand and marriage equality is now the law of the land in the state of Colorado.

What about civil unions?

Civil unions still exist in Colorado. If you want one, you can still get one. If you already had one, nothing has changed. You are still in a civil union and you are not married. If you are a same-sex couple (or an opposite-sex couple) and wish to be married, whether you are in a civil union or not, you need to go to your county clerk and recorder’s office to obtain a marriage license. Please note — if you are currently in a civil union, you don’t need to dissolve that civil union to obtain a marriage license. However, the only person you can marry is the person with whom you are in a civil union. In other words, you cannot be in a civil union with one person and marriage with another person at the same time. As an example, if you would like to marry your current girlfriend, but are still in a civil union with your ex, you will need to dissolve that civil union before you get married.

Is there common-law same-sex marriage?

This is an issue being debated among family law attorneys in Denver right now. “Common law” means principals or rules of law that existed before there was a written law. In Colorado, “common law marriage” is generally defined as cohabitation plus a general reputation in the community that the parties hold themselves out as married. Some attorneys believe that while same-sex common law marriage might exist, it can only be recognized as of the date that same-sex marriages became legal in Colorado. Other attorneys believe that laws that are found unconstitutional must be treated as though they never existed, and therefore a common law marriage should be found starting from the time the couple started living together and telling people that they were married.

Posted October 10, 2014
by: MFL Team


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