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Colorado Divorce Laws


Each state has its own set of laws covering divorce, alimony, property distribution, child support, and custody. Many of these laws are complex and detailed, so it's important to speak with a local Colorado divorce lawyer about the circumstances in your divorce.

For your convenience, the chart below summarizes a few of the key concepts of Colorado's divorce laws:

Colorado State Laws

  • Fault/No-Fault: No Fault
  • Property Distribution: Equitable
  • ADR Available: Yes
  • Parenting Plan Required: Yes

Colorado Grounds for Divorce

Colorado divorce courts accept no fault grounds for divorce. To be granted a divorce in Colorado, you must declare your marriage to be irretrievably broken.

No fault divorce grounds don't name either spouse for being at fault for the divorce. When filing for divorce, you don't have to prove that your spouse committed some kind of wrongdoing to end the marriage. Before filing for a no fault divorce in Colorado, you must have lived there for at least 90 days.  Generally, with no fault divorce grounds, there may be a period of time where you and your spouse will have to live separately to ensure reconciliation is not possible.

Before filing for divorce in Colorado, you will need to meet both the Colorado residency requirement and Colorado divorce waiting periods.

Colorado Residency Requirements

The Colorado divorce court will enter a divorce decree once one of the spouses have been domiciled in the state for at least 90 days before filing for divorce. The divorce petition can be filed in the county where the petitioner or respondent live, but typically, the petition is filed where the petitioner resides.

To be considered domiciled in Colorado, you must meet a certain set of standards that are defined in the state statutes.

Colorado Divorce Waiting Period

In some states, divorce law may require a couple to recognize divorce waiting periods. These designated amounts of time may happen before filing for divorce, after the divorce petition is filed or before remarrying.

Colorado divorce law doesn't have a divorce waiting period before filing the divorce petition. As long as you meet the Colorado residency requirement, you can file for divorce at any time. Once you have filed for divorce, there is a 90 day waiting period before finalizing the Colorado divorce process. Colorado divorce laws don't require a remarriage waiting period; either spouse can remarry anytime after the final divorce decree has been issued.

Colorado Annulment

Depending on the circumstances of the divorce, some couples may choose to get an annulment instead of a divorce. If a marriage is annulled, it's as if it never existed because it wasn't legal according to state law. Colorado divorce courts will allow a marriage to be declared invalid if it meets one of the following criteria:

  • One of the spouses was unable to agree to the union at the time of the marriage. This may be because he or she was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other incapacitating substances or was mentally incapable.
  • Either of the spouses were physically incapable of consummating the marriage through sexual intercourse, and the other spouse was unaware of the spouse's incapacity at the time of the marriage.
  • One of the parties was under the legal age and didn't have consent of his or her parents, legal guardian or judicial approval.
  • If the spouses married as a joke or on a dare.
  • One of the spouses entered the marriage under the duress of the other spouse or a third party. It doesn't matter whether the other spouse knew about the exercise of duress.
  • If one party was induced into the marriage through fraud or misrepresentation of the other party.

According to Colorado law, there are some circumstances where the marriage is prohibited. In the following situations, the marriage will also be declared invalid:

  • The marriage happened before the dissolution of either spouse's previous marriage.
  • If the marriage was between a ancestor and descendant or a brother and sister. It doesn't matter if the spouses are half or whole blood.
  • A marriage between an uncle and niece or an aunt and nephew, whether the relationship is by half or whole blood. There is an exception when the marriage is allowed by an established custom of an aboriginal culture.
  • If the marriage was void by law of the place where the marriage happened.

Colorado Property Distribution

Colorado is an equitable distribution state in divorce, which means the Colorado divorce court decides what is fair property distribution between the spouses. When the divorce court is deciding on how to make property divisions, it considers relevant factors such as:

  • Each spouse's contribution to the gain of marital property, including any contribution as a homemaker
  • The value of the property given to each spouse
  • Economic circumstances of each spouse when the Colorado property division becomes effective, including the desire to award the family home or the right to live in the home for a reasonable period to the custodial parent
  • Increases or decreases in value of each spouse's separate property during the marriage or the depletion of the separate property for marital purposes.

Colorado property division depends on the circumstances of the divorce.

Colorado Alimony

Alimony is referred to as spousal support or maintenance in Colorado divorce laws.

Temporary maintenance is awarded at the discretion of the Colorado divorce courts and may be given to either spouse when couples are filing divorce. Temporary maintenance is favored when the annual combined gross income of the spouses is $75,000 or less.

It is presumed that the spouse with the higher income will pay temporary maintenance to the spouse earning less. The award is determined by a specific calculation; if the calculation generates a number that is more than zero, that is the amount of temporary monthly alimony.

The calculation for temporary maintenance is:

40% of the higher earning spouse's month adjusted gross income - 50% of the lower income spouse's monthly adjusted gross income = maintenance award

It's possible to rebut this presumption; speak with a local Colorado divorce attorney to find out if you will pay or receive spousal support in your circumstances. If the calculation gives an answer that is zero or a negative number, it is presumed that temporary maintenance will not be awarded.

If the spouses make more than $75,000 combined, the Colorado divorce court may award alimony if one spouse is doesn't have a sufficient amount of property to provide for his or her reasonable needs.

This includes marital property awarded to him or her during Colorado property division. Alimony may also be awarded if one spouse is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodial parent of a child whose circumstances make it appropriate that the custodial parent isn't employed outside the home.

Colorado alimony is a factor of divorce that depends on several circumstances. The Colorado divorce courts will consider issues when determining alimony such as:

  • Financial resources of the party seeking maintenance
  • Time the party seeking maintenance needs to get sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment
  • Future earning capacity of the party seeking employment
  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Length of the marriage
  • Age and health of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • Ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet both parties' needs

Colorado Child Custody

Typically, divorce courts like to give parents joint child custody, but this is not always possible with the circumstances of the divorce. When determining child custody, the Colorado divorce courts consider the best interest of the child, first and foremost. To determine what is in the best interest of the child, Colorado divorce law considers the following factors:

  • Wishes of the child's parents in regards to parenting time
  • Child's wishes if he or she is mature enough to express a reasonable and independent preference
  • Interaction and relationship of the child with parents, siblings and other family members significantly affect the child's well-being
  • Child's ability to adjust to home, school and community
  • Mental and physical health of all people involved (Disability alone is factor that will deny or restrict parenting time.)
  • Ability of each spouse to encourage affection and contact between the child and other parent
  • Parents' past involvement with the child and if it reflects a system of values, time commitment and mutual support
  • Location of each parent's house in relation to the other parent's
  • Credible evidence that shows there is a history of child abuse, neglect or domestic violence
  • Each parent's ability to place the child's needs before his or her own

There are a variety of types of child custody, as well as many different combinations the Colorado divorce court can choose to serve in the best interest of the child.

Colorado Grandparent Visitation

Visitation rights for grandparents aren't always automatically provided by the divorce court; however, the Colorado divorce court does allow for grandparents to make a motion for child visitation in child custody or parental responsibility cases. Grandparents can petition for child visitation rights in divorce, changes in legal child custody or death of a child's parent - if the grandparent is the parent of the deceased parent.

When grandparents seek parental responsibility for grandchildren, the Colorado divorce courts will consider any credible evidence of the grandparents' past conducts that suggests child abuse or neglect. Colorado divorce courts will allow, modify or terminate visitation rights for grandparents, depending on what in the best interest of the child.

Colorado Child Support

In Colorado divorce, the divorce court can order either or both parents to pay child support, as long as it's reasonable and necessary. Child support payments are calculated by estimating the amount of support that would have been available if the family had stayed together with the help of a child support worksheet. This is figured by using the parents' combined gross income and then adjusted to allow for the child's medical expenses, insurance and work-related child care costs. The specific amount is allotted to each parent.

Although a child support worksheet is typically used to calculate child support, the divorce courts may alter the calculations, depending on the circumstances of the divorce. If the worksheet is not considered fair to make a child support order, the Colorado divorce court considers a variety of factors when it comes to determining who pays child support, including:

  • Financial resources of the child
  • Custodial parent's financial resources
  • Standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage hadn't ended
  • Physical and emotional conditions and educational needs of the child
  • Financial needs, resources and obligations of the noncustodial and custodial parent

The Colorado divorce courts don't regard marital fault when deciding a child support order. Once a child support order has been issued, it's not necessarily permanent. It may be possible to modify child support if there is a change in circumstances. A local Colorado divorce lawyer can explain the circumstances that may encourage you to petition the Colorado divorce court for a child support modification.

Colorado Child Support Enforcement

Child support enforcement helps ensure children are getting the financial support they need while growing up. There are a number of ways to to collect unpaid child support in Colorado. Parents who fail to pay child support may face penalties, such as:

  • Credit Bureau Reporting - Colorado Child Support Enforcement continues to refer unpaid child support cases to major credit reporting agencies as long as payments are due.
  • Income Related Enforcement - The Colorado Child Support Enforcement agency garnishes wages to collect in unpaid child support cases.
    • Income Assignments Against Employment Wages
    • New Hire Reporting
    • Unemployment Compensation Benefits
    • Worker's Compensation Benefits
  • Intercepts - Colorado Child Support Enforcement is allowed to seize payouts to collect in unpaid child support cases and takes priority over other state agency collections.
    • Colorado State Revenue Tax Offset
    • Federal Tax Offset
    • Federal Administrative Payment Offset
    • Financial Institution Data Match
    • Gambling Payment Intercept
    • Lottery Winnings Intercept
    • State Vendor Offset
    • Unclaimed Property Offsets
  • Judicial Actions - The Child Support Enforcement in Colorado has the right to issue legal orders against unpaid child support cases.
    • Contempt
    • Federal Prosecution
    • Garnishment
      • Continuing Writ of Garnishment
      • Writ of Garnishment with Notice of Exemption and Pending Levy
    • Judgments
    • Liens - Real and Personal Property
    • Rule 69
  • Suspensions and Denials - Colorado Child Support Enforcement has the right to suspend licenses and deny issuing legal documents in unpaid child support cases.
    • Driver's License Suspension
    • Passport Denial
    • Professional Occupational License Suspension
    • Recreational License Suspension

Colorado divorce laws outline how the divorce court determines Colorado child support.

Please understand that this information is provided for illustration purposes only and is not legal advice. If you would like more information about Colorado divorce law or your divorce options, connect with a local Colorado divorce lawyer today by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out our divorce case review below. Learn more about the Colorado divorce process and protect your rights.

Case Evaluation

The above synopsis of Colorado divorce laws is by no means all-inclusive and has been adapted from applicable state laws. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local Colorado divorce lawyer in your area.

This "Colorado Divorce Laws" page was last updated April 2009.

Note: Keep in mind that all divorce laws are complex. If you need legal divorce advice or want to fully understand how these laws affect you, please speak with a local divorce attorney.