Do I need grounds to file for divorce in Colorado?
Colorado is a no-fault state for purposes of divorce, so the only grounds you need to dissolve your marriage is stating that the relationship is irretrievably broken. The former bases for divorce, such as adultery, cruelty, or desertion have been repealed. Just one spouse needs to allege the breakdown of the relationship for the court to grant a divorce, so there are no defenses or strategies that the other may use to stop the process. If a person wants out of the marriage, the court will allow it, and if the other party agrees it makes a non-contested divorce easier.
Does it matter who files for divorce first in Colorado?
The rights and duties of the parties do not change based upon who initiates the divorce process, but it is essential to comply with the requirements under Colorado law. They include:
  • One party must be a Colorado resident for at least 90 days before filing the petition
  • The petitioner is required to properly serve divorce paperwork to the other spouse
  • If there were children born to the marriage, they must have lived in Colorado for at least six months for a court to address custody, visitation, and support
What types of spousal maintenance are available in Colorado?
Courts recognize that the finances of spouses are interconnected during marriage, making it a challenge to isolate their contributions to the relationship. Spousal maintenance is a way of leveling the playing field between a higher- and lower-earning spouse so that the latter does not suffer financial hardship. There are three different types of spousal support that focus on this basic principle: 1. Rehabilitative: This form of spousal maintenance is intended to help the lower-earning spouse obtain job skills, education, and training, so he or she can earn a living. It is temporary because the objective is that the recipient will become self-sufficient. Rehabilitative support is common when one spouse gave up career opportunities to contribute to the household and/or raise the family. 2. Reimbursement: If one party paid for the other’s education or training, he or she may be entitled to recoup these amounts through reimbursement spousal maintenance. The point behind this type of support is that both spouses benefit from the financial implications during the marriage; however, only one will take away the knowledge and credentials upon divorce. A court may find that reimbursement is appropriate under such circumstances. 3. Permanent Spousal Maintenance: A judge will rarely grant permanent spousal maintenance, as the laws assume a lower-earning spouse will eventually get back on their feet through rehabilitative or reimbursement support. The exception is where that person has limited employment opportunities due to age or disability. Even when a court does order permanent spousal maintenance, there will typically be an end date.
Can I get spousal maintenance in Colorado while my divorce case is pending?
Yes, state laws do allow a party to seek spousal maintenance between filing the petition for divorce and entry of the final decree. The financial disparities between the parties could cause strife for one during divorce proceedings, which may take several months or even years.
How is property divided in a Colorado divorce case?
State laws on asset division in divorce work according to the equitable distribution approach, in which a court will split marital property according to the interests of fairness. Marital debts are also divided in this manner. Therefore, property division is a two-step process. 1. It is first necessary to classify real estate and personal property as marital or separate, and the same analysis applies to debts. Only assets acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution, so each party keeps items that they owned before the wedding date. Also, inheritances and gifts to one individual are considered separate assets. 2. The court will review the nature and value of marital property to split the items between the parties. Equity is the goal, so asset division may not be an exact 50-50 split.
What does the court look at when determining custody and visitation in Colorado?
Colorado law now uses the terms allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time to refer to the traditional concepts of child custody and visitation. The underlying principles are generally the same, so:
  • Courts generally favor joint custody, so that both parents share in decision-making on the important aspects of raising the child.
  • Even with joint custody, the child will primarily reside with one parent for convenience and practical purposes.
  • The non-residential parent can exercise visitation rights, i.e., parenting time. This person will usually also be required to pay child support.
  • In situations involving abuse, domestic violence, or other misconduct, a judge may award sole custody and/or supervised visitation.
What if we can agree on some or all of the issues at stake in a Colorado divorce?
Parties to divorce are encouraged to compromise on property division, spousal maintenance, and child custody, visitation, and support. A court will usually allow and enforce agreements in these areas, though there is heightened scrutiny when the provisions affect children. The judge will only approve such an agreement if it complies with the child’s best interests standard.
What if I need to relocate in Colorado with a minor child?
A parent having primary residential custody cannot move a considerable distance away from the nonresidential parent without court permission. If you can agree on relocation and can make necessary adjustments to custody, visitation, and support, a judge will likely approve it. Disputes over relocation in Colorado must go to a contested hearing before the court, which will decide the matter based upon the child’s best interests.
Can I appeal an order or decision of a family law court in Colorado?
Yes, many orders entered in divorce and custody cases in Colorado are appealable, so you can request a review by an appellate court. However, the appeals process is not intended to mitigate disappointment. You must have grounds to appeal, which usually relate to an abuse of discretion by the trial court judge and/or a misapplication of the law. Appeals are an assessment of the proceedings in the lower court, not an opportunity to re-try the case. The appellate judges will not look at new testimony or evidence but will rely on the trial record.
How long does the divorce process in Colorado last?
The court may not enter your divorce decree until at least 91 days have passed since the court obtained jurisdiction over the parties. Beyond that, it depends on many factors, including the county in which the case is filed, the number of issues in the case, whether the case requires the appointment of experts, and most importantly, whether the parties can reach a resolution or not. A general timeline on divorce in Colorado can be found here.
How much spousal maintenance will I receive or have to pay in Colorado?
Spousal maintenance is calculated by using a guideline formula that takes into account, the parties' respective incomes. Importantly, the guideline formula is inapplicable in certain situations, which is why it is important to consult with legal counsel if spousal maintenance is an issue in your divorce case.
Can I get sole custody of my kids in Colorado?
The court allocates parenting time and decision-making based upon the "best interests" factors. Some of these factors include the wishes of the child, the wishes of the parents, and the ability of the parents to place their children's needs ahead of their own. There is no magic formula involved. The court, at its discretion, considers these factors and determines a parenting schedule. Whether you can get sole custody of your kids will depend on these factors and more importantly, how these factors are presented to the court.
How do I modify an existing custody order in Colorado?
If you and the other party agree, you can simply file your agreement with the court and ask for the court to adopt it as a court order. If you don't agree, you will have to file a motion to modify the order with the court. Please see our section on modification of parenting time to find out more information.
How does joint custody in Colorado work?
Joint custody from a decision-making point of view means that each party has equal say in major decisions that impact the children. These categories include religion, extra-curricular activities, education, and medical decisions. As you can imagine, things get tricky when the parties don't agree as there is often no "tie-breaking" mechanism to resolve disputes when they arise. The Colorado family law attorneys at Pomper Price, LLC can offer you solutions for these situations so that your joint-custody arrangement is as successful as possible.
Do I need an divorce attorney in Colorado?
Navigating this process alone is extremely difficult. For cases that can resolve without a court hearing, the JDF forms provided by the court often do not contain enough detail to prevent future conflict, especially for cases involving children or cases involving more complex financials. The family law attorneys at Pomper Price, LLC, through their combined 35 years of experience, know the common pitfalls of non-contested divorces and can help you avoid them. ​ For cases that do not settle, having an attorney is invaluable. As an unrepresented party, you will be held to the same standard as an attorney if you are forced to go to a contested hearing. This means you will be expected to know the applicable law, the rules of evidence, and be able to present your case to the judge. ​ Mistakes made by you can have devastating and life-altering consequences. The cost of fixing these mistakes (if they can be fixed at all), is typically much more expensive than had the person just retained an attorney to begin with. Schedule an initial consultation to discuss your case.
How much does a family attorney in Colorado cost?
Family law attorneys in Colorado charge on an hourly basis, not a flat fee. Oftentimes, attorneys will estimate a "retainer fee," which is an initial payment that the attorney will charge against at his/her hourly rate. Once the retainer has been exhausted, replenishment will be required. The total cost of the case will depend entirely on the nature of the case (i.e.- whether the case proceeds to trial, the nature of the issues in the case, whether experts are required). To get a more specific estimate, please schedule an initial consultation today.