I will try to give you a brief overview of the general rules and procedures for getting a divorce in Colorado. However, you should always consult with an experienced family law attorney to get an evaluation of your particular circumstances before filing for divorce.
Grounds for Divorce
Colorado is a no-fault state so a divorce may be filed if the marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning that reconciliation is not possible. This is the only ground for a dissolution of marriage action to be filed in Colorado and there is no requirement that either party show proof of fault by the other.
There are residency requirements and a waiting period. At least one spouse must be a resident of Colorado for a minimum of 90 days prior to filing a divorce action and the petition for dissolution of the marriage may be filed in the county where either spouse presently resides. The parties must then wait at least 90 days ( a “cooling off period”) before a judge can grant the divorce.
Property Division in Colorado
Colorado is an equitable distribution state. This means that the judge does not have to divide the marital property equally, but instead can divide it based on what the judge considers to be fair. “Marital property” is any property (including income) that either spouse acquired during the marriage. The court will look at several factors to determine how property should be divided, such as the contribution of each spouse to the marital estate (including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker), the value of the marital property, the economic circumstances of either spouse, and whether either spouse contributed separate property to the marriage. “Separate property” is any property that either spouse acquired before marriage or by inheritance, and it is not subject to division by the court.
One spouse may be required to provide spousal maintenance (alimony) to the other after a divorce. In Colorado when the parties’ combined income is less than $75,000, the court will presume that the higher earning spouse should support the lower earning spouse while the divorce is pending. If the parties’ combined income is more than $75,000, the court will make a maintenance order only under certain circumstances. The court will look at factors such as the duration of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, the financial resources of both spouses, and the ability of a non-working spouse to seek education or training or find appropriate employment. Either spouse may request a modification of the maintenance amount if there is a significant change in circumstances that cause the current order to be unfair.
In Colorado, child support is calculated based on the incomes of both parents and continues until the child graduates from high school or reaches age 19. The amount of support may be adjusted based on how much time each parent spends with the child, any extraordinary medical expenses, or work-related childcare costs. The court may also order one or both parents to provide support for the child’s college education. Either spouse may request a modification of the support order if either parent’s income changes substantially or if the needs of the child change. The Colorado Child Support Enforcement Program is designed to ensure that parents are meeting their support obligations to their children.
Colorado law encourages parents to share the responsibility of parenting even after a divorce is final and the court will make custody orders based on the best interest of the child, not the parents. This means that the judge will consider factors including the wishes of the child and parents, the relationship between the child and parents, the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community, and each parent’s ability to encourage contact between the child and the other parent. The court will not modify a custody order unless the parents agree or there is a substantial change in circumstances of the child or parents. If one parent wants to move out of state with the child, judges will look at the motive of the parent and whether the move is in the best interest of everyone concerned.
This brief synopsis is designed to give a basic idea of divorce law in Colorado. However, you should always consult with an experienced family law attorney to get an evaluation of your particular circumstances before filing for divorce. Feel free to call us for a referral to an experienced family law attorney in Colorado. (720) 457-5959. www.familylawattorneyindenver.com