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Denver Same-Sex Divorce Attorney

Denver Same-Sex Divorce Attorney

Because Colorado is a state that follows an equitable distribution of marital assets law, same-sex spouses facing divorce should choose representation from experienced Denver same-sex divorce attorneys with a strong track record of navigating divorce law for same-sex spouses. At Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C., the team of Denver divorce lawyers are a part of our firm of experienced attorneys who have been practicing divorce law in Colorado since the 1970s. Our attorneys have years of satisfied clients and offer high-quality, personalized service.

Like all marriages, some same-sex couples sometimes find themselves moving in different directions or suffering relationship problems that lead to the inevitability of divorce. Because all marriages are equal under Colorado law, the divorce process is the same for same-sex spouses as it is for opposite-sex couples. However, a same-sex divorce may be complicated by unique factors such as long-term couples who cohabitated for years before marrying, therefore commingling their assets.

If you have made the decision to end your marriage, reach out to the Denver same-sex divorce lawyers at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. today for the most diligent representation to protect your rights and best interests throughout the difficult divorce process.

Denver Same-Sex Divorce Lawyer

Why Choose Us for Your Same-Sex Divorce?

Divorce is a difficult emotional process as well as a challenging legal process. The Denver same-sex divorce lawyers at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. approach all divorces—including divorce between same-sex spouses—with compassion, concern, and diligent personalized attention. Our legal team is knowledgeable and experienced in navigating same-sex divorces and stands ready to tackle the complex legal issues involved with the desired outcome of ensuring the final ruling is as fair and beneficial to you as possible.

As our client, we’ll keep open lines of communication with you and keep you well-informed throughout every step of the process as we diligently handle all filings and work to negotiate agreements with your best interests as our primary goal. Reach out to our Denver law office today, so we can begin representing you every step of the way during this complex and challenging time.

Can My Same-Sex Spouse and I File For Divorce in Colorado?

Just as opposite-sex spouses may file for divorce, same-sex couples may file for a dissolution of marriage (divorce) in Colorado under the following circumstances:

  • They were married or entered a civil union in Colorado
  • They were legally married or entered a civil union in any state and
  • One or both spouses resided in Colorado for at least 91 days before filing for divorce

All Colorado provisions providing for heterosexual couples also apply to same-sex couples. The laws are clear when applied to marriages and same-sex civil unions. After the Colorado Supreme Court decided several cases regarding common law marriages, they determined whether both same-sex couples and heterosexual couples have a common law marriage should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis examining the totality of the circumstances. Same-sex spouses in common-law marriages may be entitled to rights and protections even if they were never married or entered into a civil union.

Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. Spouses need only to allege that their marriage is “irretrievably broken.” They do not need grounds such as adultery or abandonment. A Denver same-sex divorce lawyer from Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. is ready to represent your best interests throughout the legal proceedings so you’ll be better prepared to begin your new life.

How Long Does it Take for a Same-Sex Divorce in Colorado?

Divorce can be a simple or complex process depending on how willing both spouses are to communicate, compromise and negotiate. Factors that can impact the amount of time a divorce takes include:

  • The number of assets and debts in a marriage and the amount of time the same-sex couple cohabited and mingled assets before their marriage
  • Whether divorcing spouses can come to mutually agreeable terms for equitable division of their assets
  • Whether divorcing parents can agree on matters of shared parenting time and child custody
  • Availability of proof of their debts and assets
  • How actively each spouse participates in the process

The skilled representation by a Denver same-sex divorce lawyer from Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. is your best ally for navigating the complexities unique to non-traditional marriages—especially marriages with children.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Colorado

In the best-case scenario, any divorcing spouses—including same-sex couples in Colorado—can obtain an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree to an equitable (fair, if not necessarily 50/50) distribution of their marital assets and all matters of child custody, parenting time, child support, and spousal support if applicable.

Same-sex divorcing couples in Denver can reach an uncontested agreement through negotiations with both sides retaining legal representation to vigorously defend their best interests. In some cases, a professional mediator can help divorcing spouses come to equitable agreements on all issues in their divorce agreement. In these cases, a judge is likely to simply sign off on the agreement except under the following circumstances:

  • The judge finds the agreement grossly unfair to one party
  • The judge believes one spouse acted under duress or intimidation
  • The agreement does not represent the best interests of the child or children

Even when spouses agree to an uncontested divorce, they greatly benefit from legal representation from an experienced Denver same-sex divorce attorney to ensure their settlement agreement is fair, represents the best interests of any children of the marriage, and is diligently filled out and filed correctly and in a timely manner.
A contested divorce in Colorado occurs when spouses disagree on one or more points in the distribution of their marital assets, child custody, child support, or spousal support. The process for a contested divorce is much more complex and may require extensive negotiations, mediation, and a final decision by a judge in the divorce hearing.

No one should go through this process alone. Some of the legal matters involved in same-sex divorces become murky and complex due to slowly evolving laws related to child custody rights and division of assets they may have been commingled long before the legal marriage took place. The Denver same-sex divorce lawyers at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. are ready to take on even the most complex divorce cases with compassion and experienced guidance.

How Does Distribution of Marital Assets Work for Same-Sex Divorce in Colorado?

Colorado has laws in place to ensure that marital property is settled fairly if not exactly 50/50. The state’s equitable division laws ensure that assets and debts accumulated during the marriage are fairly divided and distributed. To understand the state’s equitable division divorce law, spouses must first understand what the courts consider separate property vs marital property and when the two commingle.

Separate Property

Separate property in Colorado includes:

  • Assets or property owned by only one spouse before the marriage
  • Assets or property inherited by one spouse before or during the marriage
  • Assets or property gifted to one spouse during the marriage

Marital Property

Marital property in Colorado includes:

  • Assets or property acquired during the marriage, including the marital home and any vacation homes or rental properties
  • Bank accounts opened during the marriage regardless of whose name is on the account
  • Retirement accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • All household items
  • Vehicles, RVs, and lawn/farm equipment

In some cases, a spouse could have a valid claim on the other spouse’s separate property; for instance, if they’ve invested money or time into making improvements on a property or if a spouse was given access to an investment account. This is an especially important matter to investigate in cases of same-sex relationships that existed for years before the legalized marriage occurred.

Decisions on the division of marital property and debts can be made between divorcing spouses who are willing to negotiate. This can occur between the spouses and their lawyers and/or with the help of a professional mediator. If divorcing spouses cannot come to equitable decisions on the distribution of their debts and assets, the court will decide in a binding legal decree. It’s critically important to have a Denver same-sex divorce lawyer advocating aggressively for your best interests and desired outcome.

Challenges Specific to Same-Sex Divorces

Separating assets in a same-sex marriage is often more complex than in opposite-sex marriages because many same-sex couples cohabited for years before marrying, which typically commingles many of what otherwise have remained separate assets. For instance, a couple may have cohabitated together for a decade and shared existing assets as well as accumulated assets together before marrying in 2014 when the laws in Colorado first legalized marriage.

The same-sex divorce attorneys at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. can help untangle separate and joint assets and work out the common problems associated with separating and distributing assets and debts for same-sex couples. In many same-sex divorce cases, it’s necessary to do the following:

  • Factor in the amount of time the couple cohabitated together before their marriage
  • Determine whether the same-sex spouses were in a common-law marriage or held themselves out to others as married
  • Review any prenuptial agreements or pre-existing domestic partnership agreements
  • Determine whether the courts can order child support based on both parents’ biological and legal ties with the children
  • Investigate whether spousal maintenance is applicable in the divorce agreement, or instance if a gap exists between the incomes of both spouses
  • Determine child custody according to whether one parent has a biological connection to the child while the other does not, or if legal adoption took place by one or both parents, or whether Marlo’s Law applies, such as in cases of children conceived through in vitro fertilization

Marlo’s Law established that both parents have legal protections and equal rights to children conceived via in vitro fertilization and other extraordinary methods.

Child Custody in Same-Sex Divorces in Colorado

The courts in Colorado make all decisions in the best interests of the child, regardless of whether the parents are opposite-sex or same-sex spouses. Child custody is almost always the matter of greatest contention in divorces, with a great deal of emotion involved. Deciding custody can be more confusing in same-sex divorces since often one spouse does not have a biological connection to the child and therefore may not receive court-maintained parenting time. To avoid this issue, the non-biological parent must legally adopt the child in order for the court to recognize them as a legal parent entitled to shared parenting time.

With new evolving laws regarding child custody, the courts may determine a non-biological parent to be the “psychological parent” of the child which may make them eligible for parenting time, decision-making responsibilities, and child support rights or obligations.

Courts consider several important factors when making decisions on matters of child custody:

  • The child’s age
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a stable home for the child
  • Each parent’s physical and mental health
  • The geographical proximity of the parent’s homes

Divorcing spouses with children must first file a petition with the Colorado court. Each parent’s petition includes their name, the name and age of the child, and their reasons for requesting custody. The state does not require 50/50 custody but instead strives toward “continued frequent contact” with both parents. Some parents may share parenting time equally, but others may have arrangements with one parent retaining primary custody and the other given a specific amount of parenting time. Colorado offers several parenting schedule suggestions for parents to examine and adopt.

When parents can communicate and compromise on child custody during their divorce, they can make their own decision on the schedule that works best for their family. Otherwise, an impartial judge will make the decision as part of the binding divorce decree.

A Denver same-sex divorce lawyer from Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. understands the complexities involved with non-traditional families and will handle your case with the dignity and compassion you deserve while we defend your rights.

Mother and child

Child Support in Colorado Same-Sex Divorce

Only when the non-biological parent has legally adopted the children of the same-sex marriage can the courts order child support payments. In heterosexual marriages, both parents are responsible for the maintenance of the children, but for same-sex couples where one spouse’s name does not appear on the birth certificate and did not legally adopt the child, the courts cannot compel them to pay child support just as they are not automatically entitled to shared parenting time. This can be a problem in same-sex divorces because it may leave one spouse with complete responsibility for the child(ren).

The laws for child custody and child support for same-sex divorces are still evolving. Future legislation may better support the right of a non-biological parent in a same-sex marriage to have the same rights and obligations as opposite-sex parents, but for now, a Denver family lawyer from the Denver family law firm of Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. can help navigate this particularly complex area of divorce law. It’s important to hire an attorney with experience in non-traditional cases to defend your rights and help you understand the impacts of divorce law on your family.

Colorado Same-Sex Marriage Statistics

In October 2014, Colorado became the 18th state in the U.S. to recognize the legitimacy of same-sex marriage just before it became legal nationwide in 2015. Data collected in June 2023 shows 24,562 same-sex households in Colorado following the first U.S. census to include tracking of same-sex marriages.