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Abandonment or Desertion Divorce Process in Colorado

Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. That means that abandonment and desertion are not grounds for seeking a divorce in Colorado. The only ground for divorce is irreconcilable differences. Consequently:

  • If one spouse wants to file for divorce, the case can move forward, regardless of whether or not the other spouse wants to try to work things out.
  • If abandonment or desertion is an issue, someone wanting a divorce in Colorado may need to take some extra steps to dissolve their marriage.

The trusted family lawyers at The Cossitt Law Firm have experience with helping people navigate the divorce process when abandonment or desertion is an issue. We understand how important it can be to move forward with your life after your ex-spouse simply leaves you. We are here to help you at every step, advocating for your rights and protecting your interests. Trust that we will work diligently to help you achieve favorable, efficient resolutions.

When you are wondering how abandonment affects divorce in Colorado, The Cossitt Law Firm is ready to help. Call us at (970) 488-1887 today for a completely confidential consultation.

When potential clients contact our lawyer for abandonment, and they are seeking a divorce when no one knows the location of the soon-to-be-ex-spouse, they have quite a few questions. To help you gain a feel for how we handle abandonment divorces in Colorado, here is a collection of common questions we receive and our answers to them.

How Does Divorce Work When I Can’t Locate My Spouse?

If your spouse’s whereabouts are in question, you will still file a divorce petition the same way you would if your spouse were available. That means completing and submitting  court forms and paying the filing fees. After that step, you will need to serve your spouse with the divorce papers. For those who cannot locate the spouse to serve the divorce papers, it will usually be necessary to take the following steps:

  • File a request with the court to serve the other spouse via publication: With this request, the court will want to see some proof that you have taken reasonable steps to try to find and serve your soon-to-be-ex-spouse and that those steps have not been successful.
  • Complete service by publication: This involves taking out an ad in a newspaper of your choice and running a notice of your divorce in that publication for the required period of time.

This will give your spouse a timeline for responding to the divorce papers. If your spouse fails to respond to your divorce petition within the set deadlines, the court then can move forward to grant the divorce. Understand, however, that the court will be unable to order your ex-spouse to make child support or spousal maintenance payments when it cannot locate your ex-spouse. 

The divorce proceedings certainly are far more complex when you do not know the location of your spouse, so hiring our high conflict divorce lawyer can be a significant benefit for you when trying to follow all of the state’s rules. 

How Does Abandonment Affect Divorce and Child Custody in Colorado?

Abandonment divorces can impact the way child custody hearings work in Colorado. But the way desertion affects child visitation and custody will depend on the exact circumstances in the case.

Abandonment Affecting Divorce and Child Custody Where Your Spouse Disappears

When no one is sure of your spouse’s whereabouts, the court is not going to grant your spouse custody of the kids after you file for divorce. As long as you serve your spouse using the techniques described earlier, the court should award you custody. You may even want to ask the court to declare parental abandonment for your ex-spouse, which strengthens your argument for custody in the future should your ex-spouse return and want to fight for custody.

Abandonment Affecting Divorce and Child Custody Where You Move Out

If you move out of the home and away from your spouse to escape the possibility of domestic violence, as described in Colorado Statute § 14-10-124, the court is almost certainly going to award custody of the kids to you. Leaving the home and taking the children with you should not affect you negatively in your child custody situation if you are fearing for your safety. Our child custody attorney can help with this case, presenting facts that show why you felt you were in danger when you left the house.

How Does Property Division Work in Divorce Involving Abandonment or Desertion?

When it comes to property division, the court will usually grant the requests detailed in the initial divorce petition when no response occurs by the deadline. This includes cases in which the other spouse:

  • Cannot be found or served in person with the divorce papers
  • Does not want the divorce and is trying to subvert the process by ignoring it
  • Has abandoned or deserted his or her partner.

Decisions regarding other matters in divorce cases involving abandonment or desertion can occur in absence of the other spouse as well. That includes property division, as well as protective orders, child custody orders, and more. Our lawyer for abandonment knows how the law in Colorado works, and we are ready to represent your interests regarding property division from start to finish in this type of case.

At The Cossitt Law Firm, we understand the complexities involved when filing for divorce with abandonment in Colorado. Call our lawyer for abandonment for a case review at (970) 488-1887 as soon as possible.

Can You Divorce for Desertion in Colorado?

In Colorado, you technically cannot divorce for desertion. Having irreconcilable differences is the only requirement needed for divorce. Because Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, one of the two spouses simply must say that the marriage is not reconcilable, according to Colorado statute § 14-10-106. As long as one spouse wants to file for divorce, the court will grant the divorce, even if the other spouse does not want to divorce.

Certainly, the desertion of one spouse could be a reason that the other spouse decides that the marriage has irreconcilable differences. So, although you cannot file for divorce specifically because of desertion, it can be a factor that the court will consider when determining whether irreconcilable differences exist.

Can You Divorce for Abandonment in Colorado?

As with desertion, filing for divorce in the state of Colorado because of abandonment is not a part of state law. Colorado allows one spouse to file for divorce with or without the consent of the other spouse. Only one spouse must show that irreconcilable differences exist in the marriage to be able to file for divorce.

Colorado residents can divorce for abandonment in the sense that the abandonment of one spouse could be a contributing factor to the irreconcilable differences in the marriage. However, Colorado courts will not specifically allow you to divorce for abandonment from a legal standpoint. In other words, irreconcilable differences -- not abandonment by your spouse -- must be the legal reason given when you file for divorce.

What Qualifies As Spousal Abandonment?

When one spouse leaves the residence and says he or she will not return or offers no plans or timetable for a return, the spouse left behind could consider this act as spousal abandonment. It also may qualify as spousal abandonment when one spouse suddenly chooses to stop contributing financially to the household, such as for a mortgage or rental payment. Choosing to stop making a financial contribution for household bills could fit under abandonment, too. 

Should one spouse with a disability rely on the other spouse for medical care, and the healthy spouse suddenly leaves and does not make plans to obtain help for the disabled spouse, this also could qualify as spousal abandonment.

Understand, however, that because Colorado does not consider abandonment of a spouse as part of state laws dealing with divorce, it is not a deciding factor in filing for divorce. The abandonment could be a contributing factor when seeking to show irreconcilable differences.

What Is Desertion in a Divorce Case in Colorado?

Desertion in a divorce case can be a contributing factor for one spouse’s decision to file for divorce. It does not have to be the only reason, although it can be. Ultimately, one spouse simply has to show the Colorado court that the couple has irreconcilable differences, which could include contributing factors like one spouse’s decision to desert the other spouse or the family. Some examples of actions that may constitute desertion of the marriage include:

  • One spouse leaving the home and claiming he or she has no plans to return
  • One spouse leaving the home and giving no timetable or expectation for a return
  • One spouse cutting off all communication with the other spouse and the children
  • One spouse abandoning the responsibilities of parenthood
  • One spouse refusing to provide medical care for a disabled spouse
  • One spouse refusing to contribute to household finances and bills.

Understand that should you leave the home to avoid potential abuse for you or the children, your spouse may try to claim that you deserted the household. Our domestic violence lawyer can help you in this type of situation, ensuring the court understands exactly why you left the home and your spouse.

What Is Considered Desertion in Colorado?

Some states have specific laws that define desertion in a marriage, but Colorado does not. Colorado does not need to have this type of definition, because it does not recognize desertion as the deciding factor in one spouse’s decision to file for divorce.

When it comes to desertion of children, however, Colorado does define this action on the part of one spouse, according to Colorado Statute § 19-3-604, including:

  • One parent surrendering physical custody of the child for at least six months
  • One parent professing no intention of participating in the act of parenthood
  • One parent leaving the household where the children live and giving no indication of if or when he or she will return
  • One parent refusing to contribute to the financial well-being of the children.

The act of deserting a child is different than failing to supervise a child for a short period of time. Should your spouse desert the child, this could play a role in Colorado courts’ awarding child custody or parenting time in Colorado.

How Do I File due to Abandonment in Colorado During Common Law Divorce?

Because Colorado is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce, including with common law marriages, you will not be filing due to abandonment in a Colorado divorce hearing. Instead, you will be filing for divorce by showing that irreconcilable differences exist in the common law marriage. Colorado Statute § 14-2-109.5 defines some of the state’s common law marriage parameters.

When one partner in the common law marriage abandons or deserts the family, it can be a means of showing that irreconcilable differences exist. If your common law partner abandons or deserts you, and if you want to file for divorce, you have this right. The fact that you do not know where your partner is residing certainly complicates the process of filing for divorce. However, it does not make the process impossible. Our common law marriage lawyer can help you take the steps to file for divorce when you don’t know the location of your partner, including serving your partner through publication.

Can I Receive Support Payments in a Divorce Involving Abandonment or Desertion?

It is generally more difficult for the courts to order a missing spouse to make spousal support payments as part of a divorce case. Nevertheless, it may be possible to go back to court later, after you locate your ex-spouse, to modify the terms of your divorce agreement and to seek support payments.

How Can I Find Out More About Divorce in Colorado?

Contact our experienced Fort Collins divorce lawyer at The Cossitt Law Firm for answers, advice, and representation regarding all types of divorce in Colorado.

If you are wondering whether you can seek divorce for desertion, our divorce lawyers are ready to help. For a case review, contact The Cossitt Law Firm today at (970) 488-1887. 

At The Cossitt Law Firm, our lawyers for abandonment have significant experience representing men and women in all types of dissolution cases, ranging from same-sex divorce and divorce involving children to high net worth divorce and other complicated cases. Strategic and focused, we are proud, dedicated advocates who exclusively handle family law cases. We are also proud to partner with each of our clients, providing personal attention and unique, practical solutions to help them achieve their objectives for the divorce proceedings.


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