Colorado divorce law can be complicated, particularly if you’ve never been through a divorce before – but this guide explains the basics so you know what to expect if you’re headed for a split.
Colorado Divorce Law Basics: What You Need to Know Before You Divorce
For most people, the best course of action is to talk to a Fort Collins divorce attorney before making any big decisions. You need to know your rights – and what you’re responsible for – when you get a divorce in Colorado.
When Can You File for Divorce in Colorado?
If you’re filing for divorce, you or your spouse must have been a resident of Colorado for at least 90 days before filing. You have to file the petition in the county where one of you resides. Fort Collins is located in Larimer County.
How Long Does a Divorce Take?
The soonest a judge will grant your divorce is 90 days after filing. Typically, that only happens in uncontested divorces. However, many divorces take longer than 3 months because the two spouses haven’t reached agreements on their own about things like property division, child custody and spousal maintenance.
If you and your spouse are able to reach agreements together, your divorce will most likely be over faster. However, if you force the judge in your case to decide, you’ll have to wait for court dates. You’ll probably also go through a lot of back-and-forth with your spouse’s lawyer. For the most part, it’s best to reach agreements with your spouse rather than litigate in court.
Do You Need to Prove Fault Under Colorado Divorce Law?
If your marriage is irretrievably broken, you can file for a divorce. You don’t need to prove that it’s one spouse’s fault, because Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. The only ground you need is that your marriage can’t be repaired and that there’s no chance for you and your spouse to reconcile.
How Does Colorado Divorce Law Address Division of Property?
Our state is what’s known as an equitable distribution state. That means you don’t have to divide your property right down the middle – instead, you can divide it in ways that are fair. You and your spouse are free to reach a property division agreement on your own without involving the court. The judge in your case would have to see that your agreement is fair to both of you before he or she signs off on it as part of your divorce.
Maintenance and Colorado Divorce Law
In some cases, one spouse is entitled to maintenance – that’s the legal term for alimony. Not everyone is eligible for maintenance. It’s reserved for people who need some time to get on their feet and find a job. The law requires judges to look at factors like the:
- Future earning capacity of the spouse asking for maintenance
- Financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Length of the marriage
- Age of the spouse asking for maintenance
- Ability of the paying spouse to meet both spouses’ financial needs
Use our Colorado alimony calculator to determine how much you may have to pay or how much you may receive in maintenance.
Child Custody After Divorce
Ideally, both parents will be able to share custody of their kids. If you and your spouse can’t agree on a fair child custody agreement, the courts will decide on one for you. In that case, the court’s main concern is the child’s best interest. Some of the things courts can consider include:
- The wishes of the parents
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- How adjusted and attached the child is at home, school and in the community
- Each parent’s ability to encourage healthy, meaningful contact with the other parent
Colorado Divorce Law and Child Support
Both parents are responsible for supporting their children during and after a divorce. What one parent does in caregiving is often made up for through child support payments from the other parent. Colorado divorce law requires judges to evaluate the income of both parents as well as how much time each parent spends with the children.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Colorado Divorce Laws?
If you’re contemplating divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, call us right away at 970-488-1887 for a free divorce consultation. We can answer all your questions and help build a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.