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Colorado Divorce Laws
Residency and Filing Requirements:In order to file for a dissolution of marriage in Colorado, residency requirements must be met for the court to accept the case. If the court discovers it does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case it will not be accepted or it will eventually be dismissed. The requirements are as follows:
The district court shall enter a decree of dissolution of marriage when: The court finds that one of the parties has been domiciled in this state for ninety days next preceding the commencement of the proceeding.
The dissolution of marriage may be filed in the county in which the petitioner or respondent reside. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-10-106)
Grounds for Filing:The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must declare the appropriate Colorado grounds upon which the dissolution of marriage is being sought. The appropriate lawful ground will be that which the parties agree upon and can substantiate, or that which the filing spouse desires to prove to the court. The dissolution of marriage grounds are as follows:
The only grounds for dissolution of marriage in Colorado is based on the court finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-10-106)
Filing Spouse Title:Petitioner. The Petitioner is the spouse who initiates the filing procedure with the family law or domestic relations court.
Non-Filing Spouse Title:Respondent. The Respondent is the spouse who does not file the initial dissolution of marriage papers, but rather receives them by service.
Court Name:In the District Court in and for the County of __________ and State of Colorado. This is the Colorado court where the dissolution of marriage will be filed. The court will assign a case number and have jurisdictional rights to facilitate and grant the orders concerning, but not limited to: property and debt division, support, custody, and visitation. The name of the court is clearly represented at the top of all documents that are filed.
Primary Documents:Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. These are the essential documents needed to start and finalize a dissolution of marriage according to Colorado law. There are anywhere from ten to twenty other documents that may be required throughout the filing process. A few other documents that are typically filed during the process are: Domestic Relations Case Information Sheet, UCCJEA Information Sheet, Summons for Dissolution of Marriage, Notice to Set Non-contested Hearing, and Marital Settlement Agreement.
Court Clerk's Title:District Clerk's Office. The clerk or the clerk's assistants will be the people managing your paperwork with the court. The clerk's office will keep the parties and the lawyers informed throughout the process in regards to additional paperwork that is needed, further requirements, and hearing dates and times.
Property Distribution:Since Colorado is an "equitable distribution" state, the marital property shall be divided in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is fair. The court will encourage the parties to reach a settlement on property and debt issues otherwise the court will declare the property award.
If the parties can not enter an agreement regarding the distribution of the marital property, the court shall set apart to each spouse his or her property and shall divide the marital property, without regard to marital misconduct, in such proportions as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors including: (a) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (b) The value of the property set apart to each spouse; (c) The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse with whom any children reside the majority of the time; and (d) Any increases or decreases in the value of the separate property of the spouse during the marriage or the depletion of the separate property for marital purposes.
"Marital Property" means all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage except: (a) Property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; (b) Property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; (c) Property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation; and (d) Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-20-113)
Restoration or Name Change:There is no specific reference to changing the wife's name in a dissolution proceeding, but a change of name can be achieved by petitioning the court. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 13-15-101)
Spousal Support:Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion.
Maintenance order by the court and entered at the time of permanent orders shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors including: (a) The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to such party, and the party's ability to meet his or her needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party; (b) 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; (c) The standard of living established during the marriage; (d) The duration of the marriage; (e) The age and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; and (f) The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-10-114, 14-10-117)
Counseling or Mediation Requirements:If reconciliation seems possible, or the two parties do not agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, then upon the request of the court or parties involved in the case a counseling period not less than thirty days nor more than sixty days later, or as soon thereafter as the matter may be reached on the court's calendar.
Also the court may, at its discretion order mediation or arbitration to settle any disputes regarding the children, like custody, visitation, and support. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-10-110 and 14-10-123.7)
Child Custody:When minor children are involved in a dissolution of marriage, the Colorado courts will do everything possible to help lessen the emotional trauma the children may be experiencing. If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding the issues involving the children, the court will establish the custody order at its discretion.
The court may, upon the motion of either party or upon its own motion, appoint an attorney, in good standing and licensed to practice law in the state of Colorado, to serve as the legal representative of the child, representing the best interests of the child in any domestic relations proceeding that involves allocation of parental responsibilities.
The court, upon the motion of either party or upon its own motion, may make provisions for custody and parenting time that the court finds are in the child's best interests In determining the best interests of the child for purposes of custody and parenting time, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including: (I) The wishes of the child's parents as to parenting time; (II) The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule; (III) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests; (IV) The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community; (V) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time; (VI) The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party; (VII) Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support; (VIII) The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time; (IX) Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect under section 18-6-401, C.R.S., or under the law of any state, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence; (X) Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse as defined in subsection (4) of this section, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence; (XI) The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-20-123, 14-20-124, 14-20-129)
Child Support:Colorado child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. The monthly support amount determined by applying the guidelines is divided proportionally according to each parent's income. These two support amounts are then offset to establish which parent will pay the other parent for support of the child. All income is typically verified by examining past W-2's and child support worksheets are available at the courthouse.
In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance, or child support, the court may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child of the marriage to pay an amount reasonable or necessary for the child's support and may order an amount determined to be reasonable under the circumstances for a time period that occurred after the date of the parties' physical separation or the filing of the petition or service upon the respondent, whichever date is latest, and prior to the entry of the support order, without regard to marital misconduct, after considering all relevant factors including: (a) The financial resources of the child; (b) The financial resources of the custodial parent; (c) The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved; (d) The physical and emotional condition of the child and his educational needs; and (e) The financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent.
If the child is mentally or physically disabled, the court or the delegate child support enforcement unit may order child support, including payments for medical expenses or insurance or both, to continue beyond the age of nineteen.
If the child is still in high school or an equivalent program, support continues until the end of the month following graduation, unless there is an order for postsecondary education.
If the court finds that it is appropriate for the parents to contribute to the costs of a program of postsecondary education, then the court shall terminate child support and enter an order requiring both parents to contribute a sum determined to be reasonable for the education expenses of the child. (Colorado Statutes - Article 10 - Sections: 14-10-115, 14-10-117)
Copyright Notice: The above synopsis of Colorado divorce laws is original material which is owned and copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This material has been adapted from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. Violation of this notice will result in immediate legal action.
At the request of either party, or at the discretion of the Colorado court, the judge may delay divorce proceedings 30 to 60 days to allow for counseling.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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