Colorado now belongs to the majority of states that allow same-sex couples to marry. However, other family law options remain that allow gay, lesbian and heterosexual couples to enjoy some of the benefits of marriage. The principal option is the domestic partnership.

Until the recent federal appeals court ruling that opened the door to same-sex marriage in Colorado, most of those who applied for domestic partnerships were same-sex couples, although a man and a woman can be presumed to be domestic partners by virtue of living together. Although applying to become legally sanctioned domestic partners in Colorado may seem unnecessary, the status can provide legal and financial protection to each individual if they separate. Without a domestic partnership document, the law generally considers both partners as separate individuals and not as a unit. If that is the case, the properties and assets they owned together as well as other economic bonds may be at stake if they split or one partner dies.

A domestic partnership agreement may specify how the couple will divide their assets and properties once they split, and it will protect the parental rights of both individuals with respect to any children they had together. It also can help determine if one partner is eligible to receive spousal support. Choosing domestic partnership can make health insurance coverage possible for a partner, provided an employer offers a domestic partners plan. The same goes with leave benefits, travel and relocation expenses.

Some people set aside the idea of marriage and instead choose to live together with their significant other. These unmarried couples are not completely protected by the law and are vulnerable to legal consequences. However, domestic partnership offered in Colorado can help them receive benefits similar to married couples and secure their interests and rights at the same time.

Source: Glad.org, "Domestic Partnership - Quick Overview," Accessed Nov. 5, 2014