Though the couple in question was married in Massachusetts in 2009, Yim has since found a new partner, Suzie Calvin, in Colorado and has resided in the state long enough to be able to legally seek divorce from the state. Yim has stated that she intends to marry Calvin, a long-time friend, now that her divorce with Jones has been finalized.
Supporters of Colorado’s new civil unions law say the first state ruling of its kind declaring a same-sex divorce final sets a precedent for gay couples married in other states who want to legally terminate their relationships in Colorado without uprooting their lives.
Colorado is one of several states that treat gay and straight couples the same in almost every respect through civil unions or domestic partnerships. Gay couples are not allowed to marry in Colorado, but can get divorced there under state statute.
Some states’ gay marriage laws require in-state residency to dissolve a relationship. Gay-rights advocates contend the requirement is more than an inconvenience because it can put lives on hold for those who have moved to different states.
Denver lawyer Kyle Martelon said there is some confusion on how gay couples can get divorced, and the issues are different in other states. Couples seem to think they can go to another state, get married, and if they break up, just go their separate ways, but there is more to it than that according to Martelon.
Colorado’s civil union law, which took effect May 1, provides legal protections including division of property, financial responsibility between former spouses, parental visitation and child support to splitting couples, provided one involved individual has lived in Colorado for more than 90 days.
The new law prohibits anyone who is married or in a civil union in another state from entering a civil union in Colorado with someone other than their legally recognized spouse.
There have already been seven dissolution cases filed during the first two months the new law was in effect.