Colorado Divorce Laws
The state of Colorado has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how Colorado addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of Colorado divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our Colorado online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a Dissolution of Marriage in Colorado, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
The district court shall enter a decree of dissolution of marriage when: The court finds that one of the parties has been domiciled in this state for ninety days next preceding the commencement of the proceeding.
The dissolution of marriage may be filed in the county in which the petitioner or respondent reside. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-10-106)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested Dissolution of Marriage cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Colorado the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
The only grounds for dissolution of marriage in Colorado is based on the court finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-10-106)
Filing Party Name: The Petitioner. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the Dissolution of Marriage and is the one who actually files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested Dissolution of Marriage versus a contested Dissolution of Marriage. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: In the District Court in and for the County of __________ and State of Colorado. All Dissolution of Marriage cases in the state of Colorado are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Colorado clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: District Clerk's Office.
Property and Debt Division: Colorado is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.
If the parties can not enter an agreement regarding the distribution of the marital property, the court shall set apart to each spouse his or her property and shall divide the marital property, without regard to marital misconduct, in such proportions as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors including: (1) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (2) The value of the property given to each spouse in the property award; (3) 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 the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse with whom any children reside the majority of the time; and (4) Any increases or decreases in the value of the separate property of the spouse during the marriage or the depletion of the separate property for marital purposes.
Changing Name: There is no specific reference to changing the wife's name in a dissolution proceeding, but a change of name can be achieved by petitioning the court. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 13-15-101)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
Maintenance order by the court and entered at the time of permanent orders shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors including: (1) The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance; (2) The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and that party's future earning capacity; (3) The standard of living during the marriage; (4) The length of the marriage; (5) The age and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; and (6) The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-10-114, 14-10-117)
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Colorado courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
The court may, upon the motion of either party or upon its own motion, appoint an attorney, in good standing and licensed to practice law in the state of Colorado, to serve as the legal representative of the child, representing the best interests of the child in any domestic relations proceeding that involves allocation of parental responsibilities.
The court, upon the motion of either party or upon its own motion, may make provisions for custody and parenting time that the court finds are in the child's best interests In determining the best interests of the child for purposes of custody and parenting time, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including: (I) The wishes of the child's parents as to parenting time; (II) The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule; (III) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests; (IV) The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community; (V) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time; (VI) The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party; (VII) Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support; (VIII) The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time; (IX) Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect under section 18-6-401, C.R.S., or under the law of any state, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence; (X) Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse as defined in subsection (4) of this section, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence; (XI) The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-20-123, 14-20-124, 14-20-129)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Colorado child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance, or child support, the court may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child of the marriage to pay an amount reasonable or necessary for the child's support and may order an amount determined to be reasonable under the circumstances for a time period that occurred after the date of the parties' physical separation or the filing of the petition or service upon the respondent, whichever date is latest, and prior to the entry of the support order, without regard to marital misconduct, after considering all relevant factors including: (1) The financial resources of the child; (2) The financial resources of the parents; (3) The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been terminated; (4) The health of the child and his educational needs; and (5) The financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent.
(Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-10-115, 14-10-117)
Copyright Notice: These Colordao divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
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