Colorado Divorce Law

Divorce – State Law Summary – Colorado

Notes:  This summary is not intended to be an all-inclusive summary of the laws of divorce in the State of Colorado, but does contain basic and other procedures.

Grounds for divorce
Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only grounds for dissolution of marriage in the State of Colorado.  14-10-106

Residency requirements
At least one of the parties must have been a resident of the State of Colorado for a period of ninety (90) days immediately prior to the filing of the action for dissolution of marriage.  The action may be filed in the county where the respondent resides or the county where the petitioner resides if the respondent was served in the same county or is a non-resident of the State of Colorado.  14-10-106, CRCP Rule 98

Name of court and title of action/parties
An action for dissolution of marriage filed in Colorado is filed in the District Court.  The title of the action initiating the proceeding is a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, while the title of the action granting the judgment is referred to as the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.  The party filing the action is the Petitioner, and the other spouse is referred to as the Respondent.

Legal separation
Colorado permits judgments of legal separation to be granted upon the same grounds as a judgment of dissolution of marriage.  14-10-106

Simplified divorce procedure
A judgment of dissolution of marriage may be obtained by the filing of affidavits by either or both parties when:
1. The parties have no minor children and the wife is not pregnant, or the parties are represented by counsel and have entered into a separation agreement which provides for custody and child support;
2. Service of process has been effected upon the non-filing spouse;
3. There are no contested issues;
4. There is no marital property to be divided by the court or the parties have entered into a separation agreement which provides for the division of the marital property.  14-10-120.3

At the request of either party or on the court’s own motion, the parents of a minor child may be required to attend a program designed to provide the parties with information regarding the impact of separation and divorce upon children.  The program will inform parents about the divorce process, its impact of adults and children, and will teach coparenting skills and strategies.  14-10-123.7

Property distribution
Colorado is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court will set aside to each spouse that spouse’s separate property and divide the marital property between the parties as the court deems equitable and just, after considering all relevant factors, such as:
1. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property;
2. The value of the property set aside to each spouse;
3. The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of the property distribution, and;
4. Any increase or decrease in the value of the separate property of the spouses during the marriage or the depletion of the separate property for marital purposes.  14-10-113

The court may award alimony to either spouse upon a finding that the spouse seeking alimony:
1. Lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her reasonable needs;
2. Is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition is such that it would be inappropriate for that spouse to seek outside employment;

The award of alimony shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital fault, after considering factors such as:
1. The financial resources of the party seeking support;
2. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable that spouse to find appropriate employment;
3. The standard of living established during the marriage;
4. The duration of the marriage;
5. The age, physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking support;
6. The ability of the spouse from whom alimony is sought to meet his needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking support.  14-10-114

Child custody
All issues regarding custody of minor children, including physical custody and decision-making responsibility, will determined according to the best interests of the child.  In determining the best interest of the child as it relates to parenting time, the court will consider all relevant factors, such as:
1. The wishes of the child;
2. The wishes of the parents;
3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the parents, siblings, etc.;
4. The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community;
5. The physical proximity of the parties to each other;
6. The mental and physical health of all parties, and;
7. The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party.

The allocation of decision-making responsibilities will be determined after consideration of such factors as:
1. The ability of the parties to cooperate and make decisions jointly;
2. The ability of the parties to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child, and;
3. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child or spousal abuse.

Access to information regarding the child, such as medical and school records shall not be denied to either parent unless otherwise ordered by the court.

Conduct of a party that does not affect that party’s relationship with the child shall not be considered by the court, and the court will not presume that one spouse is better able to serve the best interests of the child because of that party’s sex.  14-10-124

Child support
Colorado has enacted child support guidelines which establish the presumptive correct amount of support.  The courts may deviate from the guidelines upon a finding that the application of the guidelines be unjust, inequitable or inappropriate.  Any such deviation must be accompanied by specific written reasons for the deviation and must include what the presumptive amount would have been under the guidelines.  Reasons for deviating may include such things as extraordinary medical expenses, extraordinary costs associated with parenting time, and gross disparity of income.  All child support orders must include the social security numbers and dates of birth of the parties and children subject  to the order.

The court shall also provide for the children’s current and future medical needs by ordering either or both parents to provide medical and dental insurance for the children, if reasonably available.  14-10-115

Inside Colorado Divorce Law