Colorado State Divorce Law Resource
U.S. Divorce Laws are enacted by each state using their respective legislative process. Once legislation is enacted into law, the divorce courts in Colorado have the authority to manage the divorce proceedings, including, spousal and child support payments, custodial rights of parents and the division of community property.
Since state laws are repealed and amended frequently, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before making any important decisions about your marriage. You can also visit the GotTrouble Divorce Resource for a more expanded understanding concerning this subject.
As of 2016, all states allow for “no fault” divorce. Yet many courts still factor in the respective parties past behavior when determining the division of community property, debts, custody, support and related issues.
SAME-SEX DIVORCE – UPDATE:
On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the US Constitution in all 50 states. It follows, therefore, that the rights and obligations between same-sex divorcing parties are subject to the same dissolution laws of that state. Reference: US Supreme Court Opinion: Obergefell v. Hodges.
LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE – NO FAULT
The only grounds for dissolution of marriage is that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
If a party requests a legal separation instead of a dissolution of marriage, and the other party doesn’t object, the court will grant a legal separation. A separation agreement can contain provisions for the maintenance of either spouse, the division of any property, and provisions for parental responsibilities, support, and parenting time of their children.
SPECIAL DIVORCE PROCEDURES:
The court may appoint an attorney to represent the best interests of the child at the request of either parent or upon its own motion, with respect to the child’s custody, allocation of parental responsibilities and rights, and any other issues related to the child.
HELPFUL SERVICES & RESOURCES
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:
To file for a dissolution of marriage in Colorado, one party must be a resident of the state for at least 90 days before filing. The petition for dissolution of marriage may be filed in the where either party resides.
MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:
A court may order a parent whose child is under eighteen years of age to attend a special program designed to provide education concerning the impact of separation and divorce on children.
Colorado is an equitable distribution state, meaning that if the parties can’t agree, the property will be distributed in an equitable fashion, not necessarily equally. When dividing the marital estate, the court will base it’s decisions on the following factors: 1) The contribution of each spouse to the marital estate, including the contributions as a homemaker; 2) The value of property set apart to each spouse; 3) The desirability of awarding the family home to the custodial parent, as well as the economic circumstances of each spouse; 4) Any depletion of separate property for marital purposes, or any increases in the value of separate property of the spouse during the marriage. Separate property not subject to division includes inheritances, property owned prior to the marriage, gifts, property acquired after a legal separation, property excluded by a valid agreement.
Spousal maintenance may be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis to either spouse. When the parties’ combined annual gross income is less than seventy-five thousand dollars, and temporary support is requested during a legal separation or during the dissolution of marriage, the court may apply a presumptive formula to determine the level of maintenance. The monthly amount of temporary maintenance shall be equal to forty percent of the higher income party’s monthly adjusted gross income less fifty percent of the lower income party’s monthly adjusted gross income. In determining the level of support to be paid after the dissolution of marriage, the court will take the following factors into consideration when determining the level of support:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking support, including marital property received in the divorce settlement, and the party’s ability to meet his or her needs independently;
- 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;
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; and the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
SPOUSE’S LEGAL NAME:
Even though Colorado doesn’t specifically address the matter of changing your name during proceedings for the dissolution of marriage, there is a section on the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage where you can request that your name be restored to a prior name. To change your name to something other than a previous name, you must petition to that effect, verified by affidavit, to the district or county court in the county where you reside, including your full name, the desired name, and a concise statement of the reason for the name change. The petitioner is required to submit a fingerprint-based criminal history record check within ninety days prior to the date of the filing of the petition.
Custody may be awarded to either parent based on the best interest of the child, and shall consider all relevant factors, including:
1. The wishes of the parents concerning parenting time;
2. The wishes of the child, if sufficiently mature to express reasoned preferences concerning the parenting arrangement;
3. The relationship of the child with his or her parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
4. The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
6. The ability of the parents to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent;
7. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parents with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
8. The physical distance of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;
9. Evidence of spousal abuse, child abuse, or neglect by either parent;
10. The ability of each parent to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
Colorado uses the “Income Shares” model to determine child support. This method bases the level of support on the combined income of both parents. You can use the worksheets available at the Colorado Judicial Branch Child Support Guidelines to determine the level of support. Child support may continue until a child becomes emancipated, graduates from high school, or it may continue beyond the age of nineteen if the child is mentally or physically disabled. Support for post-secondary education of the child may be order on both the parents.
ENFORCING CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS – FEDERAL OPTION
Learn about the Federal Office of Child Support and Enforcement:
FIND LOCAL FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT AGENCY NEAR YOU