The divorce process is much less intimidating when all parties involved have a basic understanding of the terminology the courts use and how the basic process works. Though no case is the same, some factors stay consistent. Consider the following overview of divorce law in the state of Colorado.
The Colorado court system and the attorneys who work within the system refer to every divorce as a “dissolution of marriage action. If the parties have each been a legal resident of the state for at least 91 days, either one may file for the dissolution. The courts are impartial, meaning they offer no advantage or prejudice toward the individual who files. This indicates that the filing party is not going to receive a greater or lesser settlement for initiating the dissolution, nor will the other individual. However, there may be certain advantages or disadvantages based on the timing of the filing, depending on the unique circumstances of the case. This is a result of the fact that certain orders are put in place when a case is filed that act to protect the status quo of the individuals, starting on the filing date.
Divorce legislation is different from state to state, and Colorado is known as a “no-fault divorce state,” in contrast to many other places around the country. What this means is that neither one of the divorcing couple must prove a moral or biblical reason for the failure of their relationship. Certain extenuating circumstances may contribute to the final distribution of assets in the divorce, but the “no fault” designation generally means that the couple’s assets will be divided with no regard to either party’s responsibility for the failure of the marriage. It is wise for anyone going through a divorce in Colorado to seek legal counsel, as unique factors such as contribution and disproportionate division of assets may affect the final outcome of the dissolution.
Most couples who file for divorce want to know how quickly they can get the process over with and move on. While the court must only wait until the 91st day after the dissolution has been filed to make a decision on the settlement and finalize any agreement between the parties, divorces in Colorado typically take anywhere from six months to a year to complete. Factors that contribute to a faster timeline include each party obtaining accurate asset values, being willing and able to agree on general issues, and being cooperative when it comes to agreements on the parenting process during and after the divorce.
The basic procedure for getting a divorce in Colorado involves five steps. It is important for individuals who wish to dissolve their marriage to have a grasp of this process, which includes:
In Colorado, couples do not need to be legally separated to file for a divorce. However, there is a conversion process for those already separated to divorce. Forms to start this process are available on the Colorado Judicial Branch website, and the process starts with filing a “Motion to Convert.” Converting a separation to a divorce can only be done after a couple has been legally separated for six months.
In Colorado, alimony is referred to as “maintenance,” and it is not always required. The purpose of maintenance is to ensure that a disadvantaged spouse’s basic financial needs are met after a divorce. This is generally only imposed if no other feasible source exists for the individual’s support needs to be met.
Colorado law differs from some other states in that the judges are provided with a formula to help decide on the amount of spousal support. This formula determines a monthly payment for the lower wage earner that equals 40% of the other individual’s monthly adjusted gross income less 50% of the lower wage earner’s adjusted gross income.
Colorado is not a “50/50” or “community property” state. Instead, it is what is referred to as an “equitable division” state. As an example of what this means, consider an individual who has a retirement fund worth $250,000, but the fund grows to $1,000,000 after they marry. If that individual is only married for two years, for instance, their spouse will only be awarded a “fair” portion of that fund, as opposed to $500,000 (50%).
Various factors come into play regarding which party may keep the house, but it is common for the main caregiver to get the home in scenarios involving children. Oftentimes, the courts allow the individual who has primary custody of the children to stay in the home, as that is likely to be considered in the children’s best interest.
When a couple is facing divorce, it is typically one of the most troublesome and stressful times of their lives. In addition to the anxiety of a failed marriage, there are complicated legal proceedings to deal with and paperwork that can seem difficult to properly fill out and file. Our team is experienced in all areas of family law. We know how to walk our clients through the process with ease. Visit our website today, and gain some peace of mind as you enter the next chapter of your life.