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Colorado grants first gay divorce

A lot of media attention has been given recently to the issue of gay marriage, especially after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its key rulings on the subject earlier this year. But from a practical perspective the issue of gay divorce at least as important - even if it is not as happy a subject as marriage.

Colorado passed a milestone recently when a court here finalized the state's first gay divorce. The divorce was granted for two women who married in Massachusetts in 2009, where gay marriage is legal. When the marriage didn't work out, one of the women moved to Colorado where she is currently in a new relationship.

Colorado's Civil Unions Law took effect on May 1 of this year. The law gives gay couples many of the benefits of marriage, including the right to dissolve a relationship legally. It also grants couples the right to dissolve a marriage entered into in another state. In addition to the recently finalized divorce, several more gay divorce cases are now pending in Colorado courts.

Prior to the Civil Unions Law, gay couples in Colorado who split up did so without many of the benefits available to straight couples, including the right to alimony or spousal support, known in Colorado as spousal maintenance. With the passage of the new law, both partners who dissolve a Colorado Civil Union, or a marriage from another state, have the same rights to maintenance as other married couples. Maintenance can be awarded on a temporary basis while the dissolution is pending, and once it is finalized the court can award it on a long-term basis. The courts look at a number of factors in determining spousal maintenance, including the income of each partner and the time it will take the partner requesting support to get the education and training needed to become financially independent.

Source: Huffington Post, "Colorado's First Gay Divorce Finalized," July 30, 2013