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Frequently Asked Colorado Divorce Questions
Colorado Family Law Attorneys provide answers to frequently asked questions with regards to Colorado divorce.
Colorado is considered a “no fault” state. This means that you do not need the consent of your spouse to obtain a divorce, nor are the reasons why you want a divorce considered in granting the divorce. In Colorado, the courts can enter a divorce decree (referred to as a decree of dissolution) upon showing that:
- One of the parties has lived in the state for 90 days prior to the commencement of the proceedings;
- The marriages is irretrievably broken;
- And those 90 days or more have elapsed since the court acquired jurisdiction over the other party either as a result of process or by the other party entering appearances.
Unfortunately, there are no set numbers on how much your divorce will ultimately cost. You do have several options in lieu of trial that will cut costs such as mediation and settlement discussions.
Do I really need to hire an attorney?
It is possible to complete your divorce without representation by an attorney. However, it is not recommended as this process is emotional and often more difficult than originally expected. An attorney can ensure that your interests are protected during the process as well as give you valuable advice on the overall proceedings.
Does Colorado grant divorces based on marital fault?
No. Colorado is a no fault state.
Can I get maintenance or will I have to provide maintenance to my spouse?
Maintenance is never a guarantee in divorce cases as there is no set formula for determining the length or amount of the awards. The court will look at all relevant factors in determining the appropriateness of a maintenance award, including:
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance;
- 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 standard of living established during the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and 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 own needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
Can I change my name at the time of divorce?
Yes, though you must request your name be restored prior to the finalization of your decree. Your name can only be changed to one that you previously used.
Can I get an annulment in Colorado?
Annulments occur where you or your spouse can show that your marriage is invalid. Marriages can be invalid under the following circumstances:
- A party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage either due to mental incapacity or infirmity, the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other incapacitating substances;
- A party lacked physical capacity to consummate the marriage and the other party did not at the time of the marriage know of the incapacity;
- A party was under the age as provided by law and did not have the consent of his/her parents or guardian or judicial approval as provided by law;
- One party entered into the marriage in reliance upon a fraudulent act or representation of the other party which act or representation goes to the essence of the marriage;
- One or both parties entered into the marriage under duress;
- One or both parties entered into the marriage as a jest or dare;
- Or law prohibits the marriage.
When can I file for divorce in Colorado?
In Colorado, you must have been a resident of the state for 90 days prior to the filing for divorce.
When is my case going to be over?
The court may grant your divorce on the 91st day following the filing of your Petition for Dissolution.
Do I have to go to court?
In Colorado, if an attorney represents you and the other party it is possible to file an Affidavit of Non-Appearance allowing you both not to show up to court to finalize the divorce. However, there are several appearances that are required in your divorce proceeding whereby you will be required to appear before the judge.
If attempts to serve my spouse do not work, what is my next step?
If you have attempted to serve your spouse but are unable to complete service, depending on the circumstances you may be able to provide service by publication upon the court’s permission.
At what point during the process can a spouse remarry or start dating?
Legally you cannot be married to more then one person at the same time. Therefore, until your divorce decree is entered (no sooner then 91 days upon filing for divorce) you cannot remarry. The decision to begin dating again is a personal decision that only you can decide when the time is right.
What if my spouse does not want the divorce?
In Colorado, you do not need the consent of your spouse to obtain a divorce. You simply need to show that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If your spouse is denying this requirement, be prepared to attend court-ordered mediation or even possibly counseling.
Do the other issues – child support, child custody, alimony, and property – have to be decided before the divorce is final?
Generally, yes. However, in certain situations it is possible to bifurcate your divorce proceeding and have the court retain jurisdiction over the remaining issues while entering your divorce decree.
After I file for divorce, do I have to continue to live in Colorado?
Once the divorce is filed, you must obtain permission from the court prior to relocating. Colorado will still retain jurisdiction of your divorce proceeding even if it grants you permission to leave the state.
What if I am in the military and out of state?
There are special rules concerning military personnel and it is recommended if you are in the military and would like a divorce that you consult an attorney.
What forms do I need to file for a divorce in Colorado?
You will need the Petition for Dissolution, Case Information Sheet, Summons and any fee waiver document in order to file for divorce. You will then be required to have your spouse personally served with these documents.
How and where is a divorce complaint filed?
The Petition for Dissolution is filed with the clerk of the court, in the jurisdiction where you live or where most of the marital property is located. You go to the courthouse with the Petition, Case Information Sheet, and Summons and pay the clerk the filing fee for the action or your attorney can file the documents for you. Find the clerk of the court in your jurisdiction.
How do I serve the divorce complaint on my spouse?
The easiest way to serve your spouse is to use a private process server, the sheriff’s department, or have anyone that is over 18 and not an interested party to the case give your spouse the documents. However, any of the above methods do require an affidavit of service to be filed with the court.
How is a divorce granted? Will I have to go to court?
Once you have met all the requirements given by the court in your divorce proceedings (i.e. mediation, parenting class, etc.), the court will review your file – if non-contested – and enter your divorce. If there are still matters that require court assistance to resolve, you will have to have a Permanent Orders Hearing, otherwise known as a trial, where you will need to appear before the judge and present evidence and testimony.
How do I prove fault for divorce?
Colorado is a no fault state, therefore fault does not need to be and should not be proven.
At any time can a parent change a minor child’s last name without the other parent’s permission?
Can a couple become legally married by living together as man and wife under the state’s laws (common law marriage)?
Common law marriage is valid in Colorado. However, simply living together will not be enough for the court to recognize a common law marriage. A common law marriage is established by the mutual consent or agreement of the parties to be husband and wife, followed by a mutual and open assumption of a marital relationship. Living together by itself will not establish the marriage, but the court will look to other evidence in establishing the relationship.