Overview of Divorce in Colorado

The following is an overview of divorce in Colorado. Dissolution of marriage in Colorado may be filed only on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, with property divided according to the “equitable distribution” principle, and spouse and child support determined by percentage of income.

Residency and Filing Requirements

At least one party must have resided in the state for 90 days or more in order to file for dissolution of marriage in Colorado.

Grounds for Filing

The only appropriate legal grounds for dissolving a marriage in Colorado is the claim that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The court determines whether the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Property Distribution

Colorado is an “equitable distribution" state, which implies that all marriage property shall be divided in an equitable, albeit not necessarily equal, manner.

The marital property shall be divided in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is fair. The court will encourage the parties to reach a settlement on property and debt issues otherwise the court will declare the property award. The court will divide the property without regard to marital misconduct, and will determine equitable distribution by considering each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition of marital property, including contribution as homemaker, each spouse’s property value and relative wealth separate from marital property, the economic circumstances of each spouse, and other factors.

“Marital property” means all property acquired before marriage, by either spouse after marriage except gifts or inheritances specifically earmarked for one spouse or property excluded by agreement of the parties.

Restoration or Name Change

A change of name can be achieved by petitioning the court, although Colorado provides no specific provisions for changing the wife’s name in its dissolution proceeding.

Spousal Support

Not all cases will result in spousal support being awarded. Permanent or temporary support is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed by both parties or at the court’s discretion.

Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion.

The court will consider the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property awarded them, their ability to meet their needs independently, time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment, standard of living established during the marriage, duration of the marriage, age and health, the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her own needs while paying maintenance.

Counseling or Mediation Requirements

If reconciliation seems possible or the dissolution is not mutually agreed, the court may assign a counseling period of between 30 and 60 days.

Child Custody and Support

If parents cannot agree on issues involving children, the court will establish custody at its discretion.

Child support is based on the Income Shares Model, which focuses on shares of support proportional to income.

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