Colorado, as most other states, is a no-fault state when it comes to the dissolution of marriages. This means that the courts do not consider blame when considering matters pertaining to your divorce. The state only requires that your marriage be “irretrievably broken” to file for divorce in Colorado. While issues such as domestic abuse or adultery do not pertain to the filing of divorce itself, they may play a role in other matters, including child custody. Here’s what you need to know about filing for a no-fault divorce in Colorado.
Do You Meet the Residency Requirements?
Colorado law requires that you or your spouse be a legal resident of Colorado for at least 90 days before filing for a dissolution of marriage. Additionally, you must file for divorce in the county in which you reside. If you cannot meet these requirements, you must wait until you qualify before filing for a divorce within the state.
Decide on Key Issues Surrounding Your Divorce
If possible, it’s best to decide on major issues surrounding your divorce with your spouse, before mediation or litigation becomes necessary. Some of these aspects include:
Child custody. Custody is one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce proceeding. Generally, the courts award joint legal custody, which means both of you will have a say in your child’s medical care, education, religious upbringing, and more. However, there is usually one custodial parent and one with visitation rights. Decide with whom the child will reside and who will visit.
Dividing your property. Colorado is an equitable distribution state, which means you must divide your assets in a manner that is equitable and fair. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everything will be split down the middle. Assign a value to each of your assets and debts and decide among yourselves how to divide them, if possible.
Create a parenting plan. Colorado law requires divorcing parents to submit a parenting plan to the court. This will include your child custody agreement if you can agree to one – otherwise, each parent still must submit his or her preferred parenting plan to a judge.
Discuss child support and alimony. The parent who receives visitation rights generally pays child support, as the parent who lives with the child assumes many of the child’s expenses. You may also recover spousal maintenance if you weren’t working in order to raise a child. The courts make decisions on child support using a formula.
Consult With a Divorce Attorney
Because even the most amicable divorces involve contentious aspects, your Colorado dissolution of marriage will likely require the guidance of an attorney. This holds especially true when children are involved or when one spouse is seeking alimony or spousal maintenance. An experienced family law attorney can help you protect your best interests and avoid the costly process of litigation if possible. You may also seek help from an alternative dispute resolution professional such as a mediator to make important decisions regarding child support, property division, and more.
File the Divorce Paperwork
Assuming you meet the residency requirements, your attorney will help you draft and file a petition for divorce. Assuming you have made all the decisions regarding your divorce beforehand, you’ll likely only require one hearing for the court to issue the divorce decree. If, however, you cannot agree on certain aspects of a divorce, the courts will make these decisions for you. Once your divorce finalizes, you’ll receive notification of your divorce decree. The terms of this agreement are legally binding, so you must abide by its terms regarding visitation, child support, alimony, and anything else stipulated in your agreement.