Colorado no-fault divorce and property division, alimony issues

If you're seeking a divorce in Colorado, it's important to know that it is a no-fault state. This means couples do not need to provide a reason for why they would like to dissolve their marriage, as the individual filing can simply cite in the petition that the relationship is irretrievably broken. In fact, this is now the only legal grounds for divorce in Colorado.

However, according to the Denver Bar Association, courts are allowed to consider fault when it comes to the division of marital assets and spousal support awards.

To move forward with a divorce petition, one spouse must have lived in Colorado for at least three months, or have shown intent to live in the state such as establishing a mailing address, registering to vote, purchasing a home or registering a motor vehicle. This is particularly relevant for members of the armed forces, who often technically live overseas, but establish domicile somewhere in the United States. According to a U.S. Air Force Academy resource, a service member's Leave and Earnings Statement must indicate that the individual legally resides in Colorado.

Property Division And Alimony

One of the key issues in most divorce cases is the division of shared property and assets. Colorado law calls for the equitable division of assets, in which courts are obligated to divide property as fairly as possible. However, this does not mean the division will be completely equal. Courts may consider numerous factors in this process, including:

  • Contributions of each spouse to the ownership of the shared property, including income and contributions made as a homemaker (if applicable)
  • Financial situations of both spouses at the time of dividing the property
  • Value of separate property not subject to the division process
  • Impact of the marriage on the value of separately owned property, particularly if that property has depreciated with time

It's important to note that some property may be exempted from this process, including gifts to one spouse, property owned prior to the marriage, property excluded per a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, and items or assets acquired after a legal separation took effect.

In some cases, one spouse may seek support from the other in the form of alimony, which typically involves one-time or ongoing payments on a temporary basis. However, as the Denver Post reports, the landscape for how courts calculate alimony (or spousal support) has changed over the last year, as a 2013 bill provides new guidelines for judges to consider. Colorado now has a formula available to calculate alimony, although it is not yet clear how closely judges will follow the guidelines, as they only serve as recommendations.

Typically, divorces take at least 90 days to finalize, although they may take longer if there are major points of contention or you need to engage in litigation to reach a settlement. Family law courts will not issue a final divorce decree before three months have passed, aiming to give both sides the opportunity to thoroughly discuss all issues and attempt to reach a sound agreement.

Divorce is never easy, but it helps to know how the process works in Colorado to fully understand your rights and obligations. For more information on these issues, consult an experienced Parker divorce attorney.