Facts About Filing a Divorce in Colorado
- In Colorado, you or your spouse must be a resident of Colorado for at least 90 days before filing your first papers with the court.
- You begin the legal process by filing a Petition with the clerk of the district court. If you filed a Petition, then you or the Petitioner and your spouse is the Respondent. If you filed for divorce together, then you are Co-petitioners.
- Divorces are civil matters. They are generally supposed to be heard in the judicial district where you both live, or where the Respondent lives, or where your home was or is.
- A divorce can be complicated, especially when children are involved. It is up to you to decide whether and how you use a lawyer in your divorce. The laws allow you to conduct your divorce "pro se, which means "for yourself" in Latin. Divorce cases are filed and heard in the states district courts, not in Federal or municipal courts.
What are the grounds for divorce in Colorado?
Colorado has adopted "no-fault" divorce which means that it is not necessary to prove "fault" such as abandonment, cruelty or adultery in order to obtain a divorce. It is not necessary for both spouses to agree on this issue, and either spouse may obtain a divorce even if the other party objects. In general, fault is usually not considered as relevant in determining most issues relating to a divorce.
What is a no-fault divorce?
A no-fault divorce describes any divorce where the parties do not have to prove that one of the spouses did something wrong. All states allow divorces regardless of who is at "fault." To get a divorce in a quote "no-fault" state, one party merely has to state a reason recognized by the state. In Colorado, a party has to show that the marriage is "irretrievably broken," or that there are irreconcilable differences between the spouses.
Can one spouse prevent a court from granting a divorce in Colorado?
One spouse cannot stop a no-fault divorce in Colorado, even over the objections of the other party.
What is a legal separation?
A legal separation does not terminate the legal status of marriage, but acts to finally separate the finances of the parties. The process for obtaining a legal separation is very similar to the divorce process. Property and debts are usually divided, child support and spousal support can be awarded, and child custody matters can be determined. A legal separation can later be converted to a divorce at the request of either party even have one of the parties does not want it.
How long does it take to obtain a divorce or legal separation?
There is a 90 day waiting period from the time in action is started to the time of Colorado court may enter a decree of dissolution or legal separation. However, the dockets in many local courts are very congested at this time, and the process often takes much longer.
Does it matter which spouse files for divorce?
No. Because Colorado is a "no-fault" state, there is no legal significance or preference given as to the spouse that files a petition.
Does common law marriage exist in Colorado?
Colorado recognizes "common law marriage," a marriage that has not been formalized through the process of filing of a marriage license and attending a marriage ceremony solemnized by someone in an official capacity. A common law marriage is established through the mutual consent of the parties to be husband and wife, followed by actions of both parties that show the public that they intend to be married. Living together for some period of time, in and of itself, does not create a common law marriage.
Does the relationship between a parent and children depend on the parents' marital status?
No. The legal parent- child relationship exists regardless of marital status. The parent and child relationship extends equally to every child and every parent.
Who may bring legal action in a paternity case?
- The child.
- The natural mother.
- The man presumed to be the father.
- The State of Colorado.
- The Colorado Department of Human Services.
- A county Department of Social Services.
When can they bring legal action?
- At any time to prove a parent-child relationship.
- To prove that a man is not the father of the child, but only if the action is brought within a reasonable amount of time after obtaining knowledge of relevant facts. However, this cannot be done more than five years after the child's birth.
- The filing party must disclose any restraining orders against either party within 90 days prior to the paternity action.
What is the time frame for establishing paternity?
An action to determine the existence of the father and child relationship can be brought at any time before the child's 18th birthday by the mother or the father of said child, by the child, or by the delegate child support enforcement agency.
What is the court process in a paternity case?
- An informal hearing will be held if it is determined by the court to be in the child's best interests. The court can order that the hearing be held before a magistrate.
- The court may determine that it is in the best interest of any of the parties to the case for the hearing not to be open to the public.
- A record of what happens at this hearing will be kept if any party requests so or if the court orders that a record be kept.
- If any witness refuses to testify, the court can order the witness to testify and produce evidence related to all relevant facts to the case. The refusal of a witness who has been granted immunity to obey to testify or produce evidence is a civil contempt of the court.
- Any party may seek a restraining order or injunction. Also, any party can seek temporary orders as to custody, parenting time, and support once the court enters an order determining the existence of the parent and child relationship. Note: issues of temporary custody, parenting time, and support party are cited under a different set of criteria established by Colorado law.
What is child support?
Child support is an amount of money ordered by the court or by a county child support enforcement unit to be paid to one parent to the other.
How is child support determined?
In Colorado, the amount of child support is determined through the use of child support formulas. Factors taken into account include the gross monthly income of each party, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, child care expenses, the cost of the child's medical insurance, and any extraordinary needs of the child. Occasionally other adjustments also apply.
How does the court decide if spousal support should be awarded?
Spousal maintenance, known in other states as "alimony" or "spousal support," can be sought by either party in a divorce or legal separation matter. In Colorado, there is no absolute entitlement to spousal maintenance. The court must first determine if the spouse is entitled to support. If entitlement is found, the court then determines the amount and duration of maintenance. In finding entitlement, the court is required by statute to determine whether the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to him or her, to provide for his or her reasonable needs, and is unable to support him or herself through appropriate employment or is a custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home. The amount and length of time of maintenance, if justified, involves consideration of all "relevant factors", which include many things, including the financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, the time necessary for the party seeking maintenance to acquire sufficient education or training so that he or she can find appropriate employment, the spouse's future earning capacity, the standard of living established during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the age and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance and the ability of the spouse from the maintenance decide to meet his or her needs wall meaning those of the spouse was seeking maintenance.
What enforcement remedies are available to collect child support?
- income withholding
- driver's license suspension
- garnishment of wages and bank accounts
- interception of federal and state income tax refunds
- interception of unemployment compensation benefits
- lottery winnings
- assignment of worker's compensation benefits
- liens placed on personal and real property
- notification of child support debts to consumer reporting agencies
- professional, occupational, and recreational license suspension
- new hire reporting
How can I contact the child support enforcement units in Colorado counties?
The telephone number is of these agencies are available on any Colorado state court web site, located at http://www.courts.state.co.us/.
I am a victim of domestic violence. How do I get a restraining order?
A victim of domestic violence, or any victim of violence or one who is in fear of personal harm, may go to civil court to get a restraining order, which is enforceable statewide and nationwide. There are two stages for getting a restraining order in Colorado. First, you must obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO). The TRO lasts up to 14 days. It will state the date and time you must return to make the order permanent (a permanent hearing). You will need to arrange for the order to be served on the respondent. You may take the order to the Sheriff's Department to be served. There is a fee for service only for those who are not a victim of domestic violence, the mastic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.
Second, you must return to court on the date indicated on the TRO for the court to issue a permanent restraining order (PRO). If you do not return at this time, the TRO will expire. It will no longer protect you or your child. Once you obtain a TRO, the length of the TRO is at the discretion of the judge (except the part about children, which usually lasts no more than 120 days). The TRO is enforceable where everywhere you go.
What do I do if I need your restraining order at a time when the courts are not open?
Local law enforcement have procedures to obtain an emergency protective order on your behalf when the courts are not open for regular schedule business. Otherwise, during regular business hours, every county court has a time and place for restraining order hearings.
You can also call or visit TESSA (formerly "The Center for Prevention of Domestic Violence). Their Crisis Line is 719-633-3819. In emergencies, always dial 9-1-1.
DEFINITION OF COMMON TERMS
|Petition for Dissolution:||This document officially starts the dissolution of marriage (divorce) in the proceedings are requesting a court order to terminate the marriage and to arrange the terms of allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly called "custody"), child support, division of property and debts and to award maintenance (formerly called "alimony"), if applicable.|
|Petition for Legal Separation:||This document officially starts the legal separation proceeding by requesting a court order to arrange the terms of allocation of parental responsibilities, child support, division of property and debts and payment of maintenance, if applicable, for the married couple to live separately.|
|Petitioner:||The person who files a petition with the court.|
|Co-Petitioner:||The person filing the Petition with the Court together with the Petitioner|
|Respondent:||The person who is served with a petition for dissolution or legal separation who must respond to the allegations of the petition in order to have his or her desires considered by the court. When he or she files a response to the allegations of the petition here she becomes the respondent.|
|Parental Responsibilities:||This term includes both parenting time and decision - making responsibilities regarding the children.|
|Decree:||A decision or final order of the Court.|
|Service of Process:||The official means by which a party is notified that document has been filed against him or her and that he or she has been provided a copy of the document and a description of the persons rights and obligations as a party to the case.|
|Hearing Date:||The date that the petitioner and the respondent must appear in court.|
|Mediation:||A confidential process whereby a trained neutral third party assists parties with disputes to reach their own solution.|
|Alternative Dispute Resolution:||A process that allows parties to resolve their dispute without litigating the matters in court.|
Contact our Colorado Springs law offices to discuss your legal issue with an experienced family law lawyer.