Divorce in Colorado - A How-To Guide
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Divorce in Colorado - A How-To Guide

Last updated: August 02, 2018
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The more you know about getting a divorce in Colorado, the less difficulty you will have when navigating the legal system and making your way through proceedings. Remember that divorce laws are different in every state, so it’s important to be familiar with specific ground rules for divorcing in Colorado before getting started. Let's dive right in.

How long does a Colorado divorce take?

Like marriages, the process of divorce is different for everyone. While it is possible for a Colorado resident to obtain a divorce within 90 days from the date that the summons and petition are filed with the court, there are a number of mitigating factors that can increase the length of the divorce process.

  • Child custody arrangements
  • Required parenting classes
  • Spouse contests divorce
  • Divorce is not amicable
  • Conversion of a legal separation into a divorce

Be careful! If you make a mistake when filing for divorce in Colorado, the entire process is likely to take longer. Couples considering divorce are encouraged to seek legal counsel. That way, with a lawyer’s help, matters are handled as quickly as possible.

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What are the residency requirements for Colorado divorce?

When obtaining a divorce in Colorado, either one of the spouses must have resided in the state for 91 days before divorce procedures begin. The state’s court system will require evidence of residency, such as vehicle registration, driver’s license or other Colorado ID, or being employed in Colorado and paying state income taxes.

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Colorado?

Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, which means that the state’s laws allow either spouse to petition for legal separation or dissolution of marriage when they feel that the marriage is irretrievably broken. There is no need to prove grounds for divorce.

Colorado Legal Separation vs. Divorce

If you are considering divorce but aren’t certain that this is the right decision, you have the option of legal separation instead of divorce. Colorado’s legal separation process provides rules for dividing property and assigning responsibility for debt, as well as for child custody arrangements.

Individuals should file a Petition for Legal Separation in the county where they or their spouse reside. At least one spouse must be a legal resident of the state for at least 91 days before the petition is filed. Once terms have been agreed upon and the court has accepted the petition, at least 90 days must pass before a Decree of Legal Separation is finalized.

  • If either spouse contests issues surrounding the separation, the decree may take longer to finalize

  • If both spouses entered a Joint Separation Petition, the required waiting period begins on the day the petition was filed

  • If one spouse filed the separation petition, the other spouse must be served. The required waiting period begins on the date of service.

Some couples find that legal separation works indefinitely; however, the state of Colorado allows either spouse to convert the legal separation into a full divorce after a six-month waiting period passes. If a legal separation is converted to divorce, the terms of the Legal Separation Agreement are transferred to the final divorce decree. Spouses who wish to make changes to the terms may approach the court to do so.

Colorado Divorce with No Children

Colorado divorce proceedings are different for couples with children than they are for couples without children. Couples may opt to file jointly or on their own.

  • If filing jointly, couples should complete Colorado JDF 1000 Case Information and Colorado JDF 1101 Petition

  • If filing for divorce on their own, individuals should complete Colorado JDF 1102 Summons in addition to Colorado JDF 1000 Case Information and Colorado JDF 1101 Petition

In either case, the couple or individual must file for divorce in the county where they or their spouse resides.

When filing for divorce on their own, individuals must have the other party served with copies of all three documents. The service must be conducted by an uninvolved third party aged 18 or older. A notarized Return of Service serves as proof that the other party was served, and must be provided to the court.

The court may require additional documents, which will be outlined in the Case Management Order (CMO):

  • Each party may need to provide a Sworn Financial Statement (JDF 1111)

  • Each party may need to provide a Certificate of Compliance (JDF 104)

  • Both parties may need to sign a Separation Agreement (JDF 1115)

  • Both parties may need to sign an Affidavit for Decree without Appearance (1201)

  • If either party disagrees on issues outlined in the Separation Agreement JDF 1115, then a Pretrial Statement (JDF 1129) should be completed

After reviewing the documents, the court may require an initial status conference. If both parties are able to agree on all issues, the court may issue a final divorce decree on or after the 92nd day after filing.

If both parties are unable to agree on all the issues, they may be required to attend mediation. In addition, a contested hearing date may be set. Only after all issues have been settled will the court provide a final divorce decree.

The state of Colorado provides PDF files of essential divorce documents online, however, state law prohibits employees from providing legal advice. Parties with questions and concerns are encouraged to seek legal assistance. Many lawyers offer free consultations.

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Getting a Colorado Divorce with Children

Couples with children may file for divorce jointly, or individuals may file for divorce on their own.

  • If filing jointly, couples should complete Colorado JDF 1000 Case Information and Colorado JDF 1101 Petition

  • If filing for divorce on their own, individuals should complete Colorado JDF 1102 Summons in addition to Colorado JDF 1000 Case Information and Colorado JDF 1101 Petition

In either case, the couple or individual must file for divorce in the county where they or their spouse resides.

When filing for divorce on their own, individuals must have the other party served with copies of all three documents. The service must be conducted by an uninvolved third party aged 18 or older. A notarized Return of Service serves as proof, and must be provided to the court.

The court may require additional documents, which will be outlined in the Case Management Order (CMO):

  • Each party may need to provide a Sworn Financial Statement (JDF 1111)

  • Each party may need to provide a Certificate of Compliance (JDF 104)

  • Both parties may need to sign a Separation Agreement (JDF 1115)

  • Both parties must sign a Parenting Plan (1113)

  • Both parties may need to sign an Affidavit for Decree without Appearance (1201)

  • If either party disagrees on issues outlined in the Separation Agreement JDF 1115, then a Pretrial Statement (JDF 1129) should be completed

Besides these documents, divorcing parents must complete the Colorado Child Support Worksheet. An online tool for calculating child support / maintenance helps ensure accuracy. The court may require parents to attend a status conference as well as parenting class. This requirement is assigned on a case by case basis; both spouses should check with the court to determine which procedures apply and how they should be carried out.

If both spouses agree on all issues surrounding the divorce, then they will need to attend a final hearing. The court may issue a final divorce degree and support order as soon as the 92nd day after filing.

If either party fails to agree on all issues, then mediation may be required, and the court may set a date for a Contested Hearing. All issues must be worked out before the final hearing can take place. The final divorce decree and support order may then be provided.

Child custody may be legal, physical, or both. In Colorado, child custody issues may be resolved by parents on their own. In cases where no agreement can be reached, the court will decide on arrangements that best benefit the child(ren) involved. If children are old enough, the court will allow them to provide input concerning custody arrangements.

If a parent has a history of abusing or neglecting their children, or if they have a history of domestic violence, the court may order supervised visitation only. In some cases, abusive parents are not allowed visitation with their children.

Cost of Divorce in Colorado

Colorado divorce costs $195 to file. This basic fee does not cover additional petitions that take place during the divorce, nor does it cover the cost of legal counsel. If one party cannot afford a lawyer and complicated issues make the divorce complex, the court may order the other spouse to pay the cost of attorney’s fees.

How Property is Divided when Couples Divorce in CO

It is possible for both parties to agree on the division of property using the Separation Agreement (JDF 1115). If an agreement cannot be reached, then it is up to the court to divide property.

Each spouse will keep “separate property” including:

  • gifts
  • inheritance
  • property acquired before marriage
  • property acquired after legal separation
  • property excluded via a valid agreement such a prenuptial agreement

Marital property will be divided as the court sees fit. Considerations for property division include:

  • Each party’s contributions, including the contributions of a homemaker
  • Value of property
  • Individual economic circumstances of each party, i.e. what will life be like after divorce

Alimony (also known as spousal maintenance) may be paid on an individual basis.

Lower-earning or unemployed spouses are called “supported spouses” in Colorado. These individuals may be entitled to support called temporary alimony during the divorce procedures, based upon an income-based formula.

Long-term alimony is paid after a divorce is finalized. This is separate from child support, and the party receiving alimony must prove that they lack income, assets, or the wherewithal to become self-supporting and cover their living expenses. The court takes a number of factors into consideration when determining eligibility for alimony as well as the amount of alimony:

  • Health
  • Resources
  • Age
  • Earning capacity
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Local job market
  • Paying spouse’s ability to provide support
  • Length of marriage
  • Living standards established during the course of the marriage

Colorado alimony is determined on a case-by-case basis. A knowledgeable lawyer is an essential resource in the event that alimony is owed or expected.

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Divorce Lawyers in Colorado

Although you may opt to represent yourself for a simple, amicable divorce, Colorado lawyers offer insight and expertise in dealing with complicated matters and ensuring that each party receives his or her fair share of property. Here is a list of divorce lawyers in Colorado who can walk you through the process as smoothly as possible.

Checklist of resources you may need to divorce in Colorado

Because divorces are challenging under the best of circumstances, trained professionals dedicate their careers to guiding their clients efficiently through procedures, particularly in complicated cases. You may choose to build your Colorado divorce team using the following individuals or websites:

Focus Area Organization Website
Divorced Professionals National Association of Divorced Professionals (NAPD) TheNADP.com
Divorce Coach Certified Divorced Coaches (CDC) >CertifiedDivorceCoach.com
Financial Planners Association of Divorce Financial Planners(ADFP) DivorceAndFinance.org
Lawyer Avvo Avvo.com
Online Resource DivorceForce DivorceForce.com

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Legal Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice on any subject matter. Consult with an attorney for more information regarding your individual situation.