TN 8 (06-13)

PR 02705.007 Colorado

A. PR 13-078 Colorado Civil Unions – Name Change Guidance (PL 13-15) – REPLY

DATE: May 9, 2013

1. Syllabus

A civil union certificate issued by the State of Colorado on or after May 1, 2013 is acceptable evidence of a name change.

2. Opinion

Question Presented

Same-sex civil unions became legal in Colorado at 12 a.m. on May 1, 2013. Can the agency accept a Colorado civil union certificate as evidence for a name change on the Numident?

Short Answer

Yes. The agency can accept a Colorado civil union certificate issued after 12 a.m. on May 1, 2013, as evidence for a name change.

Background

Colorado enacted the Colorado Civil Union Act on March 21, 2013. Same-sex civil unions became effective in Colorado on May 1, 2013. Under the Act, a party to a civil union has the same rights, benefits, protections, duties, obligations, responsibilities, and other incidents under law, whether derived from statute, administrative or court rules or regulations, common law, court decisions, or any other provision or source of law, as are granted to or imposed upon a married spouse. See Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-15-107(1) (West 2013).

Discussion

To process a name change, the agency must have evidence of three items: (1) a name change event; (2) the new name; and (3) the number holder’s identity as shown on the latest Numident record. See POMS RM 10212.015; POMS RM 10212.055. The agency should accept a Colorado civil union certificate as evidence of a new name because the certificate demonstrates a name-change event and provides evidence of a new name under Colorado law.

The POMS recognizes that civil unions, like marriages, are name-change events. POMS RM 10212.010 (stating that a civil union is a name-change event). Thus, the agency may accept a civil union certificate from Colorado as evidence of a new name if: (1) the civil union certificate “constitutes a legal name change in the State where the civil union was entered,” POMS RM 10212.040, and (2) the new name can be derived from the name-change document. POMS RM 10212.055(B).

Here, the civil union certificate constitutes a legal name change in Colorado. See POMS RM 10212.040. Parties to a civil union enjoy all of the same rights, benefits, and protections as married persons under Colorado law. See Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-15-107(1). In Colorado, a person can change his or her name with a marriage certificate. See, e.g., Colorado Department of Revenue – Identification Requirements, http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251714422992&ssbinary=true (last visited May 6, 2013). Because the state of Colorado accepts marriage certificates as evidence for a name change, they will also accept civil union certificates under the Colorado Civil Union Act. See Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-15-107(1). Further, the Colorado Civil Union Act requires the civil union certificate to include particular information, including the parties’ names. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-15-109(1). Thus, the agency will be able to derive a new last name from the civil union certificate (the name-change document), as outlined in POMS RM 10212.055(B) (specifying that civil-union documents containing the partner’s last name are sufficient for a last-name change). Therefore, because the civil union certificate constitutes a name-change document under Colorado law, the agency should accept a Colorado civil union certificate as evidence of a new name when the new name can be derived from the civil union certificate and there is satisfactory evidence of the number holder’s identity. 1 POMS RM 10212.055(B), POMS RM 10212.040.

With respect to dissolution, the Colorado Civil Union Act provides that a civil union shall be dissolved in the same manner as a marriage. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-15-115(2); see also Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-106.5(1). In Colorado, to commence a legal separation or dissolution of marriage proceeding, the party must file a petition for dissolution pursuant to Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-107(2)(a)-(g). In the petition for dissolution, a party may request the restoration of a former or maiden name, which the court addresses in the final divorce decree. See Domestic/Divorce, http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Self_Help/FAQ's/FAQ's%20and%20answers%20DIVORCE.pdf (last visited May 6, 2013); see also Petition for Dissolution, 19 Colo. Prac., Family Law & Practice § 12:2 (2d ed.) (if the petitioner seeks restoration of a maiden or former name, that request should be included in the petition for dissolution). Because parties to a divorce or annulment may request that a court restore a former name, parties to a civil union may also request that a court restore a former or maiden name. See Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-15-107(1). Therefore, a final decree of dissolution of a civil union should be accepted as proof of a name change in accordance with POMS RM 10212.060 and 10212.065.

Conclusion

The agency may accept a Colorado civil union certificate issued on or after 12 a.m. on May 1, 2013, as evidence for a name change because a civil union is a name-change event, and the civil union certificate is evidence of a new name under Colorado law. The agency may also accept a decree of dissolution of a civil union as proof of a name change.

John Jay Lee

Regional Chief Counsel

Region VIII

By: _______________

Kati Bostwick

Assistant Regional Counsel


Footnotes:

[1]

We note that a Colorado civil union certificate should be distinguished from a civil union license. The Colorado Civil Union Act requires that the county clerk first issue a civil union license that is void if not used within 35 days. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-15-111. After issuance of the license, the civil union must be certified by an authorized party, and the civil union certificate completed and returned to the county clerk who issued the license; upon receiving the completed certificate, the county clerk shall register the civil union. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-15-112 (1)-(3). Because the certificate, not the license, establishes the civil union, only the certificate may be used as evidence of a name change.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1502705007
PR 02705.007 - Colorado - 06/06/2013
Batch run: 06/06/2013
Rev:06/06/2013