Civil Unions in Colorado

Civil Unions in Colorado

Colorado now has full marriage equality. This means that civil unions and same-sex marriages are now full permitted in Colorado. However, that wasn’t always the case and couples across Colorado are still able to get a Civil Union if they don’t wish to get married, but want to have some of the legal protections that marriage offers. On March 2013, SB 11 was passed (Colorado Civil Union Act). This provided thousands of committed couples with critical legal protections and responsibilities. The bill went into effect on May 1, 2013. Rights and protections covered by civil unions include abilities such as taking leave to care for a partner, making medical and end-of-life decisions for a partner, and adopting children together.


  • Financial support of a partner.
  • Medical care, treatment and right to make decisions. 
  • Guardian, personal representative for a partner or priority conservator
  • Right to inherit property from a partner (without a written will)
  • Protect exempt property from attachment, execution, or garnishment during a crisis.
  • Designate a partner as a beneficiary to retirement.
  • Adopt a child of a partner.
  • Insure a partner.
  • Hospital visitation.
  • Family leave benefits.
  • Survivor benefits under workers’ compensation laws 
  • State or local government pensions.

Steps to Apply for a Civil Union

1. Make sure you meet all the requirements to apply for a civil union:

  • Applicants must be 18 years of age. Anyone 18 years of age or over who has a legal guardian must have written consent from that guardian. Written consent must be presented at the time of application.
  • Applicants must not be married or in a civil union with someone other than the person with whom they are applying.
  • The applicants must not be related as siblings, uncle and niece, uncle and nephew, aunt and niece, or aunt and nephew.

2. If you have been previously married or in a civil union and are widowed or divorced, you must provide:

  • If you are widowed: the exact date (day, month, and year) of your partner’s death.
  • If you are divorced: the exact date (day, month, and year) of your divorce, the location (city and state) of your divorce, the type (district, superior, circuit, etc.) of court in which your divorce proceeding occurred, and you must also provide the name of the previous spouse or partner.
  • If your divorce is within 30 days preceding the date you apply for a civil union license you must provide a certified copy of your divorce decree.

3. Gather up all the information you need to apply:

  • One of these valid forms of identification: U.S. driver’s license or permit, U.S. state-issued ID, U.S. military ID, or Passport (with certified English-language translation if non-English). You may NOT present a birth certificate, a baptismal certificate, or a Mexican Consular ID.
  • Social Security Number: If you have a social security number, you are required to provide it. If either party doesn’t have a social security number, they are not required to have one to enter into a civil union.
  • The place of birth (city and state) of each of your parents. No documentation is required, just a verbal response.
  • A cheque or cash to pay the $30 fee. Credit cards are not accepted. Certified copies of civil union licenses are available upon request for $1.25 each. Please note that your form of ID must be currently valid. No expired ID will be accepted.

4. Both applicants need to visit the County Clerk office and Recorder with the above-referenced information in hand. In case they (or either one of the parties) are unable to appear in person, the absent party needs to fill an absentee application, that must be notarized. The present party must show (on the behalf of the absent partner) the completed and notarized absentee application along with a clear and legible photocopy of one of the above-referenced forms of identification.

5. After applying, if everything is in order, you will be issued a civil union license, which may be used immediately upon issuance anywhere within Colorado, but is valid only for 35 days after issuance.

6. A retired judge, a court magistrate, a public official whose powers include certification of civil unions, a Native-American tribe official, or a clergy normally certifies a civil union. The certifying official will complete your civil union certificate, attesting that your civil union certification has been performed lawfully.

7. Return your civil union license and your completed civil union certificate to your County Clerk and Recorder within 63 days for recording. It is advised not to separate the certificate from the license. The civil union is recorded for future references, and the original form is returned to you at the address provided in your application.

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