DIVORCE LAWS OF COLORADO
The law relating to divorce or the dissolution of marriage in Colorado is governed by Title 14 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.
GROUNDS FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE
The irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only ground to sufficient to obtain the divorce in the state of Colorado.
If both of the parties by petition or otherwise have stated under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken or one of the parties has so stated and the other has not denied it, there is a presumption of such fact, and, unless controverted by evidence, the court shall, after hearing, make a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
If one of the parties has denied under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including the circumstances that gave rise to the filing of the petition and the prospect of reconciliation, and shall:
- Make a finding whether the marriage is irretrievably broken; or
Continue the matter for further hearing not less than thirty days nor more than sixty days later, or as soon thereafter as the matter may be reached on the court's calendar, and may suggest to the parties that they seek counseling. At the adjourned hearing, the court shall make a finding whether the marriage is irretrievably broken.
FILING THE PETITION FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE
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.
Dissolution of Marriage Procedures
A petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the District Court in and for the County of State of Colorado of the ordinary place of residence of the person seeking divorce. A dissolution of marriage 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;
- here is no marital property; or the spouses have agreed on the division of marital property; and
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.
A decree of dissolution of marriage or of legal separation is final when entered, subject to the right of appeal. An appeal from the decree of dissolution that does not challenge the finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken does not delay the finality of that provision of the decree which dissolves the marriage beyond the time for appealing so that either of the parties may remarry pending appeal.
After the expiry of six months after entry of a decree of legal separation, on motion of either party and proof that a notice has been mailed to the other party at his or her last-known address, the court shall convert the decree of legal separation to a decree of dissolution of marriage, and a copy thereof is to be mailed to both parties.
The clerk of the court shall give notice of the entry of a decree of dissolution to the office of state registrar of vital statistics in the division of administration of the department of public health and environment, which office shall make this information available to the public upon request.
Whenever child support has been ordered, the decree of dissolution, legal separation, declaration of invalidity, allocating parental responsibilities, or support shall contain an order for an income assignment.
MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS
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 to attend a program concerning the impact of separation and dissolution on children. Finally, a court may an arbitrator to resolve disputes between parents concerning child support and custody.
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 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;
and 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.
Either spouse may be awarded support for a just period of time, without regard to any marital fault, if the spouse seeking maintenance:
- lacks sufficient property, including his or her share of any marital property, to provide for his or her needs, and
is unable to support his 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.
The award of maintenance is based upon a consideration of 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; and
any custodial and child support responsibilities. Maintenance payments may be ordered to be paid directly to the court for distribution to the spouse.
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;
- credible evidence of the ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly;
- whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support which would indicate an ability as joint custodians to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child;
- the physical proximity of the parties to each other;
- whether an award of joint custody will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parties. 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; and
- 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;
- the ability of the parents to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent;
- 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;
- the physical proximity of the parents to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of where the child will reside;
- the ability of each parent to maintain adequate housing for the child; and
whether an award of joint custody will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parents.
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; and
the financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent.
Provisions for medical insurance and medical care for any children may be ordered to be provided.
The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties and is enforceable without consideration. After the agreement becomes effective, it may be amended or revoked only a written agreement signed by both parties. The amended agreement is enforceable without consideration. The agreement is not enforceable if it is proven that
- the agreement was not executed voluntarily or
- before execution of the agreement the party was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party. If the marriage is determined to be void, the agreement is enforceable only to the extent to avoid an inequitable result.