Colorado Divorce Law

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By DivorcedMoms, Senior Editor - September 24, 2013 - Updated October 05, 2013

Colorado.jpgResidency Requirements

One spouse must have been a resident of Colorado for 90 days prior to filing for dissolution of marriage. The dissolution of marriage may be filed for in:        

  • The county where the respondent resides or
  • The county in which the petitioner resides if the respondent has been served in the same county or is a non-resident of Colorado.

Legal Grounds for Divorce

No Fault Divorce:       

  • Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. [Colorado Revised Statutes; Article 10, Section 14-10-106].

General Divorce or Fault Based Divorce:     

  • Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only grounds for dissolution of marriage in Colorado.

Legal Separation in Colorado:

If there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, the spouses may file for a legal separation. One spouse must have been a resident of Colorado for 90 days prior to filing for legal separation.

The disadvantage of legal separation in Colorado is that the process is no easier than a Colorado divorce. Aside from the lack of a waiting period, the process is procedurally identical and involves all of the same issues. In the end, however, the parties have a decree of legal separation, not a decree of dissolution.

The advantage to legal separation in Colorado is that one spouse can remain on the other spouse’s health insurance for the duration of the separation period.


Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in Colorado:

A divorce may be obtained by affidavit of either or both of the spouses if:        

  • There are no minor children and the wife is not pregnant or both spouses are represented by counsel and have entered into a separation agreement granting custody and child support.       
  • There are no disputes.        
  • There is no marital property or the spouses have agreed on the division of marital property        
  • The adverse party (non-filing spouse) has been served with the dissolution of marriage papers.
  • A signed affidavit stating the facts in the case must be filed with the petition.

Divorce Mediation or Counseling Requirements in Colorado:

At the request of either spouse or their attorney, or at the discretion of the court, the court may appoint a marriage counselor in any dissolution of marriage or legal separation proceeding and delay the proceedings for 30 to 60 days to allow for counseling. In addition, the court may order a parent of a child less than 18 years of age to attend a program concerning the impact of separation and dissolution on children. Finally, a court may appoint an arbitrator to resolve disputes between parents concerning child support and custody.


Alimony/Spousal Support in Colorado:

Either spouse may be awarded alimony/support for a just period of time, without regard to any marital fault. If the spouses’ combined income is over $75,000.00, the monthly temporary maintenance to the lower-earning spouse will be 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s income less 50% of the lower-earning spouse’s income. If the spouses’ combined income is over $75,000.00, maintenance is only allowed if the spouse seeking maintenance:        

  • Lacks sufficient property, including his or her share of any marital property, to provide for his or her needs.        
  • Is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment, or has custody of a child and the circumstances are such that the spouse should not be required to seek employment outside the home.

For couples with over $75,000.00 joint income, the award of maintenance is based upon the following factors:        

  • The time necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment and that spouse’s future earning capacity.        
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.        
  • The duration of the marriage.        
  • The ability of the spouse from whom support is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking support.        
  • The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to such spouse and such spouse’s ability to meet his or her needs independently.        
  • The age of the spouses.        
  • The physical and emotional conditions of the spouses.        
  • Any custodial and child support responsibilities.
  • Maintenance payments may be ordered to be paid directly to the court for distribution to the spouse.

Child Custody in Colorado:

Joint or sole custody will be determined with regard to the best interests of the child, without regard to the sex of the parent, and after considering the following factors:        

  • The preference of the child.        
  • The desire and ability of each parent to allow an open and loving frequent relationship between the child and the other parent.        
  • The wishes of the parents.        
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community.        
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.        
  • The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members.        
  • Any child abuse or spouse abuse by either parent.        
  • Whether a parent’s past involvement with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support.        
  • The physical proximity of the parties to each other.       
  • The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
  • Visitation may be restricted if there is a danger to the child.

Joint custody may be awarded on the petition of both parents if they submit a reasonable plan for custody. The plan submitted to the court for joint custody should address the following issues:        

  • The location of each parent.        
  • The periods of time during which each parent will have physical custody of the child.        
  • The legal residence of the child.        
  • The child’s education.        
  • The child’s religious training, if any.        
  • The child’s health care.        
  • Finances to provide for the child’s needs.        
  • Holidays and vacations.        
  • Any other factors affecting the physical or emotional health or well-being of the child.

The actual joint custody award is based on all of the factors involved in standard custody decisions and on the following additional factors:        

  • The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly.        
  • Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parents with the child reflects a system of values and mutual support which indicates the parent’s ability as joint custodians to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child.       
  • Whether an award of joint custody will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parents.

Child Support in Colorado:

The court may order reasonable and necessary child support to be paid by either or both parents, without regard to marital fault, after considering the following factors:        

  • The financial resources of the child.        
  • The financial resources of the custodial parents.        
  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved.        
  • The physical and emotional conditions and educational needs of the child.        
  • The financial resources, needs, and obligations of both the noncustodial and the custodial parent.

Provisions for medical insurance and medical care for any children may be ordered to be provided. There are specific child support guidelines specified in the statute. In addition, standardized child support guideline forms are available from the Clerk of any District Court. Child support payments may be ordered to be paid through the Clerk of the Court. Child support must continue through high school graduation, unless certain factors are met.

Property Distribution in Colorado:

Colorado is an “equitable distribution” state. The separate property of each spouse which was owned prior to the marriage or obtained by gift or inheritance is retained by that spouse. All other property acquired during the marriage will be divided, without regard to any fault, based on the following:        

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker.        
  • The duration of the marriage.        
  • The value of each spouse’s separate property.        
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or right to live in it to the spouse having custody of any children.        
  • Any increase or decrease in the value of the separate property of the spouse during the marriage or the depletion of the separate property for marital purposes.        
  • Whether children are involved, and which party is responsible for providing for them.        
  • Whether one party owns separate property that is of great value.        
  • The age and health of both parties.        
  • Whether there was abuse or infidelity (to penalize the offending spouse).

Disclaimer: The divorce law information provided is for informational purposes only not for legal advice purposes. This information is general in nature. Each jurisdiction has specific code and court procedures. A local divorce attorney is your best source for how divorce is treated in your jurisdiction. Before making any legal decisions we encourage you to consult with a local attorney…do not make decisions based on general state divorce law.

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