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Colorado Supreme Court’s new ruling on same-sex marriages is a game-changer

January 15, 2021 | Firm News

For decades, same-sex couples were limited to informal relationships that may have been sanctified by their churches or communities but not legally recognized. For a while, there existed a patchwork system of laws that made same-sex relationships a “grey” area with legal standing that could change depending on where the couple lived.

That changed in 2015 when the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges made same-sex marriages legal throughout the nation. Same-sex couples naturally rejoiced — but the ruling didn’t totally ease their legal troubles.

Old discriminatory practices affected many present-day rights

One of the major problems that same-sex couples encounter today that’s leftover from before is the issue of when their marriages actually began. That can have many different implications — particularly when the couple ends up divorced.

The start date of a couple’s marriage is used to determine which assets the couple held were marital property (and, therefore, subject to division) instead of one party’s individual holdings. A marriage’s date of beginning may also have a huge influence on whether or not a dependent spouse is owed support by the more affluent spouse following their divorce.

Colorado rules that common-law marriages existed for same-sex couples

The Colorado Supreme Court just ruled that same-sex marriages could be valid common-law marriages prior to 2015. In the words of one advocate, “This ruling signifies that LGBTQ Coloradans are equal under the eyes of the current law, regardless of the discriminatory practices of the time.”

In essence, the court has said that a relationship that looked like a marriage, was held out to the community as a marriage and regarded as a marriage should be treated that way — even if the couple was legally barred from marrying at the time.

If you’re going through a same-sex divorce in Colorado, it’s wise to stay current with the changes in the law. Make sure that you speak with an experienced attorney right away about your situation.

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