Dissolution of Civil Unions in Colorado
Civil unions, like marriages, are legal relationships that can only be terminated through a formal process known as dissolution.
In Colorado, this process shares many similarities with traditional divorce proceedings.
Here, we’ll delve into the specifics of dissolving a civil union in Colorado and how Patricia Perello, a renowned lawyer based in Colorado Springs, can help guide you through this often complex and emotional journey.
What Is A Civil Union?
A Civil Union is a legally recognized arrangement similar to marriage, granting partners most or all of the rights and responsibilities of a married couple. However, a civil union is not universally recognized in the same way that marriage is, and the exact rights and benefits conferred by a civil union can vary depending on the jurisdiction.
Civil unions were introduced in some places to grant same-sex couples rights and benefits without calling the arrangement a “marriage.” This was often done in regions where there was resistance to same-sex marriage due to cultural, religious, or political reasons.
Over time, as attitudes towards same-sex relationships have evolved in many parts of the world, some places that once offered civil unions have since legalized same-sex marriage and phased out or converted civil unions into marriages.
Reasons For Civil Union Dissolution
Civil union dissolution occurs when a couple decides to end their civil union legally. The reasons for dissolving a civil union can mirror those for ending a marriage. Some common reasons include the following:
- Irreconcilable Differences: Just as in many divorces, partners may find that they have grown apart or that their differences have become insurmountable. They might disagree about their relationship’s core values, life goals, or other critical aspects.
- Infidelity: One or both partners may have been unfaithful, leading to a breakdown of trust in the relationship.
- Financial Strain: Disputes about money, such as differences in spending habits, financial priorities, debt accumulation, or unemployment, can put significant stress on a relationship.
- Communication Breakdown: An inability to communicate effectively can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and, ultimately, the decision to part ways.
- Abuse: Any form of abuse – whether physical, emotional, psychological, or financial – is a grave concern and can be a primary reason for the dissolution of a civil union.
- Addiction: Issues related to substance abuse or addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.) can erode trust, create financial strain, and damage the relationship.
- Life Changes: Major life changes such as illness, job loss, or losing a loved one can strain a relationship. Sometimes, these changes lead couples to reassess their relationship and separate.
- Personal Growth or Change: Over time, individuals can change significantly in their values, beliefs, and aspirations. These personal evolutions might lead to incompatibility between partners.
- Pressure or External Influences: Pressure from family, cultural expectations, or societal norms can influence the stability of a union.
- Children & Parenting Issues: Disagreements over whether to have children, parenting styles, or the day-to-day challenges of raising children can strain a relationship.
- Sexual Incompatibility: Over time, couples might face issues related to their sexual relationship, which can lead to dissatisfaction and, in some cases, the end of the union.
- Mental Health Issues: Mental health challenges can affect relationships profoundly. If not addressed, conditions like depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders can lead to the breakdown of a partnership.
- Lack of Commitment: One or both partners may feel no longer committed to the union, leading them to seek dissolution.
What Are The Protections & Benefits Of A Colorado Civil Union?
Colorado has recognized civil unions since May 1, 2013, providing many of the state-level rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples before the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. After that decision, same-sex couples in Colorado and elsewhere in the U.S. can now legally marry, but civil unions remain an option.
Here are some of the protection benefits that were associated with a Colorado civil union:
- Spousal Rights: Civil union partners have many of the same spousal rights as married couples, such as the right to inherit property without a will, spousal privilege in court proceedings, and the right to make medical decisions for a partner who’s incapacitated.
- Property and Financial Rights: Partners in a civil union have the right to property division and financial support, similar to spouses in a divorce.
- Parental Rights: Partners can be recognized as legal parents of a child they have together, with the same rights and responsibilities as any other parent.
- Healthcare Benefits: Civil union partners can add their partner to their health insurance if the employer is a state or local government entity or the private employer recognizes the civil union for benefit.
- Protection Under State Laws: Civil union partners are protected under state domestic violence laws and have access to family medical leave benefits.
- Estate and Inheritance Rights: Partners in a civil union have the same inheritance rights as spouses if one partner dies without a will.
- Medical Decisions: If one partner becomes incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions, the other partner has the legal right to make those decisions on their behalf.
- End-of-life Decisions: Partners in a civil union have the right to make funeral arrangements for each other.
- Tax Benefits: Civil union partners can file joint state tax returns and are eligible for the same state tax benefits and exemptions as married couples.
- Survivor Benefits: Civil union partners have the right to survivor benefits, such as workers’ compensation and public employee pension benefits.
Differences Between Contested & Uncontested Dissolution Cases.
When it comes to dissolution cases, commonly referred to as divorces or dissolutions of marriage or civil unions, the terms “contested” and “uncontested” are often used to describe the nature of the case. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between the two:
Uncontested Dissolution Cases:
- Agreement on All Issues: In an uncontested dissolution, both parties agree on all the issues about their case, such as property division, child custody, child support, spousal support, and other relevant matters.
- More straightforward and Faster: Generally, an uncontested dissolution is quicker and less complicated because there’s no need for prolonged court hearings or trials.
- Cost-Effective: Since they’re typically faster and don’t require as much legal intervention, uncontested dissolutions can be less expensive.
- Less Stressful: Without disputes to resolve in court, uncontested cases can be less emotionally taxing for the parties involved.
- Privacy: The specifics of an agreement in an uncontested dissolution may not need to be disclosed in open court, offering more privacy to the involved parties.
Contested Dissolution Cases:
- Disagreements Present: In a contested dissolution, the parties cannot agree on one or more issues. These disagreements could relate to property division, child custody, financial arrangements, or other matters.
- More Complex: Contested cases often require detailed legal procedures, including discovery (exchange of financial and other relevant information), hearings, evaluations (like child custody evaluations), and potentially a trial.
- Time-Consuming: Due to the complexities and the need to resolve disputes, contested dissolutions can take much longer to finalize than uncontested cases.
- More Expensive: The extended time in court, hiring of experts, and need for more legal advice and representation can make contested dissolutions more costly.
- Emotionally Challenging: The adversarial nature of a contested dissolution can be emotionally draining for the parties, especially if the case drags on for an extended period.
- Public Record: The issues discussed, and decisions made during a contested case are presented in open court, making them a part of the public record.
Legal Procedures & Requirements For Dissolution Of Civil Unions In Colorado
Dissolving a civil union in Colorado is similar in many ways to divorce. Here’s a general guideline for the legal procedures and requirements:
- Residency Requirement:
- At least one of the parties must have been a resident of Colorado for at least 91 days before the filing of the dissolution action.
- Filing a Petition:
- The initiating party (the petitioner) must file a “Petition for Dissolution of Civil Union” with the appropriate district court in the county where either party lives.
- Service of Process:
- The other party (the respondent) must be adequately served with a copy of the petition and a summons. This ensures they are aware of the proceedings and have an opportunity to respond.
- Waiting Period:
- Colorado has a 91-day waiting period from when the respondent is served until a court can issue a decree of dissolution.
- Financial Disclosures:
- Both parties must exchange certain financial information, including income, expenses, assets, and debts. This helps inform decisions about property division, support, etc.
- Temporary Orders:
- If needed, either party can request temporary orders from the court. These can address issues like temporary financial support or custody arrangements while the dissolution is pending.
- Property and Debt Division:
- Colorado is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that assets and debts acquired during the civil union will be divided fairly, though not necessarily 50/50. Parties can agree, or the court can decide if they cannot agree.
- Maintenance (Alimony):
- One party might be required to provide financial support (maintenance) to the other after the dissolution, depending on various factors like the length of the union, financial disparity, and the needs of the lower-earning party.
- Child Custody and Support (if applicable):
- If the couple has children, the court will decide about parental responsibilities (custody) and child support. The best interests of the child are the primary concern. Parties can also create a parenting plan that the court can approve.
- Settlement or Trial:
- Many civil union dissolutions are resolved through negotiation or mediation, resulting in a settlement agreement. If parties can’t agree on all issues, they’ll have to go to trial, and a judge will decide on contested matters.
- Decree of Dissolution:
- Once all issues are resolved and the waiting period has passed, the court will issue a Decree of Dissolution of the Civil Union, legally ending the civil union.
- Post-Decree Matters:
- After the dissolution, there might be matters to attend to, such as abiding by child support orders, transferring titles of assets, or complying with any other terms set by the court or the agreement.
Benefits Of Hiring Patricia M. Perello P.C.
- Vast Experience: Patricia has dedicated years to practicing family law in Colorado Springs, specifically focusing on dissolving civil unions. Her extensive knowledge of local laws ensures clients receive comprehensive legal advice.
- Expert Negotiator: With Patricia on your side, you have one of Colorado Springs’ best negotiators. She’s known for achieving favorable outcomes for her clients, whether in property division, financial arrangements, or child custody.
- Personalized Attention: Unlike larger firms where clients might feel like just another number, Patricia offers personalized attention to each client, ensuring every concern is addressed.
- Impressive Track Record: Patricia’s history of successful dissolution cases speaks for itself. Clients can trust that they are in the hands of a seasoned professional with a reputation for excellence.
- Client-Centric Approach: Patricia places her client’s needs at the forefront. She understands dissolution’s emotional toll and offers legal support and emotional reassurance.
- Clear Communication: One of Patricia’s standout qualities is her commitment to keeping clients informed at every step, ensuring no surprises.
- Holistic Approach: Patricia believes in looking at the bigger picture. While her primary goal is to achieve the best legal outcome, she also ensures clients have resources for emotional and financial well-being during and after the dissolution.
- Local Insights: Having worked in Colorado Springs for years, Patricia has developed relationships within the legal community, giving her clients an edge in court. She understands the intricacies of local legal systems, judges, and other attorneys, which often proves advantageous.
- Cost-Effective Solutions: Patricia strives to provide efficient and cost-effective legal solutions, understanding that clients are already navigating a challenging time.
- Flexible Consultations: Recognizing her clients’ busy lives, Patricia offers flexible consultation times, ensuring everyone can access top-notch legal advice.
Patricia M. Perello P.C. offers a blend of experience, compassion, and legal prowess that is hard to match for anyone going through the challenging process of a civil union dissolution in Colorado Springs.
Patricia Perello, Your Trusted Civil Union Dissolution Lawyer
If you are facing the dissolution of a civil union in Colorado Springs, Patricia M. Perello P.C. is here to help. With her years of experience, quality representation, and dedication to her client’s needs, she can provide the legal support you need during this difficult time. From start to finish, she will guide you through the process and ensure you have all the resources to make an informed decision.
Whether you’re looking for a mediated settlement or a court-ordered dissolution, Patricia will provide the insights you need to develop the best strategy for your situation. With her help, you can move forward securely, knowing your rights and interests are protected.
Patricia has the expertise to take your civil union dissolution case to court if litigation is needed. She is well-versed in local legal systems, having worked with judges and attorneys across Colorado Springs and beyond. With her help, you can get the best possible outcome from your case.
Patricia also offers cost-effective solutions that are tailored to fit each client’s individual needs. She understands the cost of legal representation is often a significant concern for families, so she works diligently to keep expenses as low as possible. In addition, to ensure the best possible solutions for all of her clients, Patricia offers flexible consultation times, ensuring everyone has access to top-notch legal advice.