Family Law

Domestic Partnership Law in Colorado

An Alternative to Marriage

Domestic partnerships are often seen as an alternative to marriage where two people can establish their relationship. In order to legally enter a domestic partnership, two people must sign an affidavit swearing they are in a relationship of mutual

  • Support
  • Caring
  • Commitment
  • Intent to remain together

In addition, both parties must not be married, must be at least 18 years of age, and must not be related by kinship closer than what would bar marriage in the state of Colorado.

Domestic partnerships have a number of advantages, however they’re considerably different from marriage and that means dealing with them requires the familiarity and experience that a Colorado domestic partnership attorney can provide. Domestic partnerships do not provide joint ownership of assets, so if parties separate, partition cases may need to be filed to divide home equity, and other assets.

Domestic partnerships do not allow both parties to share retirement benefits upon separation and debts which were jointly accumulated but are in only one person’s name may also cause lasting effects. People entering domestic partnerships should seriously consider pre-partnership agreements similar to premarital agreements such that future assets and debts can be equitably divided without extensive and expensive litigation.

How Our Attorneys Can Help

At Jorgensen, Brownell, & Pepin, P.C. we have provided reputable counsel for clients seeking assistance with domestic partnership issues for many years. We understand the complexities and unique nature of these relationships, and we can help you seek the exact solution you’re looking for, whether you’re looking to start a partnership, dissolve one, or make a significant change in your life. We treat each case with the utmost professionalism and dedicate the care and attention you depend on in order to obtain the best possible outcome.

Registering a Domestic Partnership

In order to begin a domestic partnership, you must first register it with the state of Colorado, which you can do at your local County Registrar’s office. To register, both you and the person you wish to register with must be present, you must bring some form of a picture ID (i.e. driver’s license, passport, or military ID), and you must pay a $25 registration fee. You will also be required to show some form of proof that you and your partner currently reside at the same address. This can include a utility or phone bill that’s addressed to each person individually but at the same address.

You are required to make an appointment in order to register for a domestic partnership, so it’s best to call several weeks in advance of when you wish to make the partnership in order to make sure there is still availability.

Terminating a Domestic Partnership

Terminating a domestic partnership is much quicker and easier than going through a divorce. Like marriage, domestic partnerships end when one party passes away, but also end when one or both partners no longer meet the requirements included in the affidavit for domestic partnership.

In order to officially terminate the partnership, you must submit a Notice of Termination to the City Clerk of Boulder along with a $25 termination fee. The notice must be signed by both partners in order for the partnership to officially terminate. However, only one partner needs to sign the notice if they can prove they have attempted to notify the other partner about the termination of the partnership.

Here are some differences between domestic partnerships and marriages:

Domestic partnerships are not necessarily recognized in all 50 states. If you move out of Colorado, your relationship may not have the same benefits or protections you enjoyed here.

  • Domestic partners are not considered “family” by law, which means parties who separate must file Allocation of Parental Rights and Responsibilities cases to establish parenting time and support. Companies who offer health benefits to employees and their families may not offer benefits to family by domestic partnership.
  • Domestic partnerships do not grant the ability to petition for an immigration status change like traditional marriage can.
  • Domestic partners don’t automatically inherit the other’s assets without tax penalties like married partners do. A will, trust, or other estate planning tools can pass assets on to a domestic partner, but they are subject to taxes.

Differences Between Domestic Partnership & Marriage

There are a number of key differences between domestic partnerships and marriages that couples should know before they choose to enter into one. In some cases these differences are helpful and offer you exactly what you’re looking for. In others, a domestic partnership may not offer a couple the benefits or protections they need. It’s important to review your situation thoroughly with a Colorado family lawyer and find out what’s right for you.

Difference Between Domestic Partnership & Common-Law Marriage

Many of the differences between a domestic partnership and marriage are the same between a domestic partnership and common-law marriage. Couples who file tax returns as a married couple and obtain benefits from one another (such as health insurance) who also have the "legal capacity" to get married are considered in a "common-law" marriage.

Common-law marriages allow for more benefits than a domestic partnership. Some benefits that the former would allow for that the latter wouldn't are social security benefits, tax exemptions, and insurance.

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