Colorado Divorce FAQ

Basic Questions

Does Colorado grant annulments?

Annulments occur where you or your spouse can show that your marriage is invalid. Marriages can be invalid under the following circumstances:

  • A party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage either due to mental incapacity or infirmity, the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other incapacitating substances;
  • A party lacked physical capacity to consummate the marriage and the other party did not at the time of the marriage know of the incapacity;
  • A party was under the age as provided by law and did not have the consent of his/her parents or guardian or judicial approval as provided by law;
  • One party entered into the marriage in reliance upon a fraudulent act or representation of the other party which act or representation goes to the essence of the marriage;
  • One or both parties entered into the marriage under duress;
  • One or both parties entered into the marriage as a jest or dare;
  • Or law prohibits the marriage.
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Can I get maintenance or will I have to provide maintenance to my spouse?

Maintenance is never a guarantee in divorce cases as there is no set formula for determining the length or amount of the awards. The court will look at all relevant factors in determining the appropriateness of a maintenance award, including:

  • The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance;
  • The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and that party’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 whom maintenance is sought, to meet his or her own needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
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What is a divorce in Colorado going to cost me? Can I afford it?

Unfortunately, there are no set numbers on how much your divorce will ultimately cost. You do have several options in lieu of trial that will cut costs such as mediation and settlement discussions.

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What are the grounds for divorce in Colorado?

Colorado is considered a “no fault” state. This means that you do not need the consent of your spouse to obtain a divorce, nor are the reasons why you want a divorce considered in granting the divorce. In Colorado, the courts can enter a divorce decree (referred to as a decree of dissolution) upon showing that:

  • One of the parties has lived in the state for 90 days prior to the commencement of the proceedings;
  • The marriages is irretrievably broken;
  • And those 90 days or more have elapsed since the court acquired jurisdiction over the other party either as a result of process or by the other party entering appearances.
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Children, Support, and Property

When can I modify custody?

A parenting plan, including a parenting schedule, can be modified at any point whenever such an action would be in the best interest of the minor child. However, a substantial modification of parenting time can only be filed if it is shown that the child’s present environment may endanger the child’s physical health.

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When can my child decide which parent to live with?

In Colorado, there is not set age limit on when a child can decide which parent to live with. The court will consider the child’s wishes to the extent that the child is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule.

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Can a parent refuse to allow visitation if child support is not paid?

No. Child support payment or lack thereof is completely independent of a parent’s right to see his/her child.

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If both parents share custody does anyone pay child support?

Child support is determined based on gross monthly income and other expenses. Who has the majority of time with the child, while a factor, is not determinative of the support obligation.

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What is joint custody? What is sole custody?

Colorado does not have joint custody or sole custody. Colorado uses the term parental responsibility – which can either be joint or primary.  If you equally share in overnight visitation with the minor child, you have joint parental responsibility.  If a parent has less then 90 overnight visitations with the minor child, the other parent is considered to have primary parental responsibility.

Colorado also divides residential responsibility from decision-making responsibility. Sole decision-making responsibility occurs when a parent is able to make all major decisions (education, religious, extracurricular, and medical) regarding the minor child without consulting with the other parent.  Joint decision-making responsibility occurs when the parents have to share the responsibility of those decisions.

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Who will get custody of our child?

There are not set rules on who will automatically get custody of the children. There are statutory factors that the court must consider in awarding any decision regarding minor children.

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Do the other issues – child support, child custody, alimony, and property – have to be decided before the divorce is final?

Generally, yes. However, in certain situations it is possible to bifurcate your divorce proceeding and have the court retain jurisdiction over the remaining issues while entering your divorce decree.

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Divorce Procedure

When is my case going to be over?

The court may grant your divorce on the 91st day following the filing of your Petition for Dissolution.

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When can I file for divorce in Colorado?

In Colorado, you must have been a resident of the state for 90 days prior to the filing for divorce.

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Can I change my name at the time of divorce?

Yes, though you must request your name be restored prior to the finalization of your decree. Your name can only be changed to one that you previously used.

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Does Colorado grant divorces based on marital fault?

No, Colorado is a no-fault state.

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Can I complete my divorce without hiring an attorney?

It is possible to complete your divorce without representation by an attorney. However, it is not recommended as this process is emotional and often more difficult than originally expected. An attorney can ensure that your interests are protected during the process as well as give you valuable advice on the overall proceedings. It is especially dangerous to represent yourself in divorce court if the divorce is contested.

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