Navigating Divorce in Colorado: Laws and Process Explained

Divorce in Colorado can be complex and emotionally challenging, requiring a comprehensive understanding of the state’s divorce laws. This blog post will delve into various aspects of Colorado divorce law to provide valuable insights that may help guide you through your divorce proceedings.

We will discuss the necessary steps for filing for divorce in Colorado and examine the grounds for seeking dissolution of marriage. Furthermore, we’ll explore how assets and debts are divided among spouses, child custody arrangements, and support obligations.

We’ll also look into spousal maintenance (or alimony) under Colorado law and provide an overview of the process for concluding a divorce in this state. By understanding the intricacies surrounding divorce in Colorado, you’ll be better equipped to navigate this difficult life event confidently.

Understanding Colorado Divorce Laws

Divorce can be complex and emotionally challenging, especially when navigating the legal aspects. In Colorado, divorce laws are designed to help couples dissolve their marriage fairly and equitably. This article will outline the Colorado divorce laws to help people comprehend what they may experience during this difficult period.

A. Residency Requirements

To file for divorce in Colorado, at least one spouse must meet the state’s residency requirements. According to Colorado law, either spouse must have lived in the state for at least 91 days before filing for divorce.

B. No-Fault State

In Colorado, divorce proceedings are based on a “no-fault” system in which couples need only cite an irretrievable breakdown as the basis for the dissolution of marriage. Instead, couples need to cite “irretrievable breakdown” as the reason they wish to end their marriage.

C. Waiting Periods

In addition to meeting residency requirements, there is a mandatory waiting period before your divorce can be finalized in Colorado. Once you’ve filed your initial paperwork with the court system and served your spouse with copies of those documents (or vice versa), there is typically a 90-day waiting period before your case can proceed.

  • Mandatory Parenting Class: If you have children together under 18 or still attending high school full-time, both parents are required by law (C.R.S. 14-10-123.7) to attend a parenting class before the divorce can be finalized.
  • Temporary Orders: During the waiting period, temporary orders may be put in place by the court for matters such as child custody, support, and property division until a final agreement is reached or ordered by the judge.

Understanding Colorado’s divorce laws is crucial for anyone considering ending their marriage in this state. Familiarizing oneself with Colorado divorce law’s legal rules and processes is key for those seeking to terminate their marriage in this state to be better equipped when confronting this difficult period.

Comprehending the Colorado divorce laws necessitates an exhaustive and intricate comprehension of the pertinent legal provisions associated with divorcing in this jurisdiction. With knowledge of these laws, individuals can better prepare for filing for divorce in Colorado.

Key Takeaway: 

Colorado divorce laws require at least one spouse to meet residency requirements of 91 days before filing for a no-fault dissolution of marriage, citing “irretrievable breakdown.” A mandatory parenting class is required if there are children under the age of 18 or still attending high school full-time, and temporary orders may be put in place during the waiting period for matters such as child custody, support, and property division.

Filing for Divorce in Colorado

Filing for divorce in Colorado can be complex, but understanding the necessary steps and requirements will help you navigate it more smoothly. In this section, we’ll discuss how to initiate the divorce process, what forms are required, and other important aspects of filing.

Initiating the Divorce Process

To begin the divorce process in Colorado, one spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with their local district court. The petitioner (the person who files) should ensure they meet residency requirements before filing; at least one spouse must have lived in Colorado for 91 days before submitting the petition.

Required Forms and Documents

In addition to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form mentioned above, several other documents may be required during your case:

  • Case Information Sheet: This form provides basic information about both spouses and any children involved.
  • Serving Your Spouse: After filing your petition with the court clerk’s office, you must serve your spouse with copies of all filed paperwork by personal service or certified mail (return receipt requested).
  • Certificate of Compliance: Once served successfully on your spouse (now referred to as the respondent), complete a Certificate of Compliance, which verifies that all necessary documents were provided to them.
  • Scheduling Conference Form: Both parties must fill out this document so the court system can set an initial conference date.

Filing Fees and Waivers

When filing for divorce in Colorado, you must pay a filing fee. The cost of the filing fee is currently $230. However, this figure may alter. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may apply for a waiver by submitting an Application for Waiver of Filing Fee form along with your petition.

Responding to the Petition

The respondent has 21 days (if served within Colorado) or 35 days (if served outside of Colorado) from the date they were served with divorce papers to file their response. This can be done using the Response Form JDF1104.

Mandatory Disclosures and Financial Statements

Both parties must exchange financial information within 42 days after the service of process on the respondent or before any temporary orders hearing if one is scheduled earlier than that time frame. These mandatory disclosures include:

  • A completed Sworn Financial Statement form,
  • Copies of three years’ worth of tax returns,
  • Proofs of income, such as pay stubs and W-2 forms,

In addition, both spouses must complete a Certificate stating they have complied with these disclosure requirements.

Familiarizing yourself with these steps will help make navigating through the complex process of filing for divorce in Colorado more manageable. It’s important to note that divorce laws vary by state, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a Colorado divorce lawyer to ensure you follow all necessary procedures and requirements.

Filing for divorce in Colorado can be complex, but navigating successfully with the right guidance and resources is possible. Moving on, we will discuss the grounds for divorce in Colorado, which must be met before filing may begin.

Key Takeaway: 

Filing for a divorce in Colorado necessitates one partner to initiate the process by applying with their local court of law. Required forms and documents include a Case Information Sheet, Serving Your Spouse, Certificate of Compliance, and Scheduling Conference Form. It’s important to note that both parties are required to exchange financial information within 42 days after the service of process on the respondent or before any temporary orders hearing if one is scheduled earlier than that time frame.


Grounds for Divorce in Colorado

In Colorado, divorce is referred to as “dissolution of marriage.” It’s important to understand that Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, which means that either spouse can file for divorce without proving any wrongdoing by the other party. Instead, they only need to show that their marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown.

Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage

An irretrievable breakdown occurs when there is no hope or possibility of reconciliation between the spouses. In most cases, one spouse must testify under oath that their marriage cannot be saved and has broken down beyond repair. The court will generally accept this testimony as sufficient grounds for granting a dissolution of marriage.

Factors Considered by Courts:

  • Lack of communication between spouses
  • Prolonged separation with no chance of reconciliation
  • Irreconcilable differences causing marital discord
  • Incompatibility leads to constant conflict and disagreements

Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Colorado

Sometimes couples may choose legal separation over divorce due to personal beliefs or financial reasons. A legal separation allows both parties to live separately while still legally married; however, it does not terminate the marital status like a divorce.

Colorado legislation declares that the justification for legal separation is comparable to divorce, meaning a complete breakdown in marriage. The process to obtain a legal separation in Colorado is similar to filing for divorce and involves dividing assets, determining child custody arrangements, and establishing spousal support if necessary.

Residency Requirements

To file for divorce or legal separation in Colorado, at least one spouse must have resided there for 90 days before filing. The children of the marriage are also considered residents if they lived continuously within the state during this period. Additionally, if children involved in the case have lived with one parent in Colorado continuously during this period, they will also be considered residents.

In summary, understanding the grounds for divorce or legal separation in Colorado is crucial when considering ending your marriage. Realizing these rules can aid you in deciding how to advance with your situation.

In Colorado, a spouse can file for divorce based on either fault or no-fault grounds. Next, we will look at the division of assets and debts that must be made during a divorce in Colorado.

Key Takeaway: 

Marriage dissolution is the term for divorce in Colorado, and it’s a no-fault state. An irretrievable breakdown occurs when there is no hope or possibility of reconciliation between the spouses. Factors such as lack of communication, prolonged separation with no chance of reconciliation, irreconcilable differences causing marital discord, and incompatibility leading to constant conflict are considered by courts.


Division of Assets and Debts

In Colorado, knowing how assets and liabilities are apportioned between the spouses is essential when dissolving a marriage. The state follows an equitable distribution model, meaning the marital property will be divided fairly but not necessarily equally.

A. Marital vs. Separate Property

To determine how assets should be split, it’s important to distinguish between marital and separate property. Generally speaking, marital property includes all assets acquired during the marriage. In contrast, separate property refers to any possessions owned by either spouse before the marriage or received as gifts or inheritance during the marriage.

  • Marital Property: Includes real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement plans, business interests, and other tangible items acquired during the marriage.
  • Separate Property: Consists of personal belongings brought into the marriage or obtained individually through gifts or inheritances.

B. Factors Considered in Asset Division

The court considers several factors when determining how to divide marital assets equitably among spouses in a divorce. Some of these factors include:

  1. The length of the marriage;
  2. The financial situation of each spouse;
  3. The contribution made by each spouse towards acquiring marital properties (including non-financial contributions such as homemaking);
  4. The value of individual assets;
  5. Any dissipation of marital assets by either spouse;
  6. The needs and future financial security of each spouse.

C. Division of Debts

In addition to dividing assets, the court will allocate responsibility for any debts incurred during the marriage. This may include mortgages, credit card debt, student loans, or other liabilities. Like asset division, Colorado courts aim to distribute these obligations equitably between both parties based on their ability to pay and who benefited from the debt.

Divorcing couples in Colorado should be informed of asset and debt division rules under state law. Consulting with an experienced Colorado family law attorney can help ensure your rights are protected throughout this process.

The division of assets and debts is important when filing for divorce in Colorado. Comprehending the legal effects of child guardianship and maintenance is fundamental to divorce proceedings.

Key Takeaway: 

When getting a divorce in Colorado, assets and debts are divided equitably based on factors such as the length of the marriage, the financial situation of each spouse, contributions made towards acquiring properties, the value of individual assets, and future financial security. Marital property includes all items acquired during the marriage, while separate property refers to possessions owned before or received through gifts/inheritance. Consulting with a knowledgeable family law lawyer is essential during this time.

Child Custody and Support

In Colorado, child custody and support are important aspects of the divorce process that must be addressed with care. The state prioritizes the child’s best interests when determining custody arrangements and calculating child support payments.

Types of Child Custody in Colorado

There are two main types of child custody in Colorado: legal custody and physical custody. Parents may be granted the authority to make choices about their kid’s upbringing, such as schooling, medical care, and faith, through legal custody; physical custody establishes where the child will live.

  • Joint Legal Custody: Both parents share decision-making responsibilities for their children.
  • Sole Legal Custody: One parent has exclusive authority over major decisions regarding their children’s lives.
  • Joint Physical Custody: Children spend significant time living with both parents according to an agreed-upon schedule or court order.
  • Sole Physical Custody: Children primarily reside with one parent while having visitation rights with the other (unless there is a valid reason not to allow visitation).

Determining Child Support Payments

The state uses specific guidelines outlined by the Colorado Child Support Worksheet, which takes into account factors like each parent’s income level, the number of overnight stays per year for each party involved in joint physical custody cases, or primary caretaker status for sole physical custody cases, and the cost of childcare. The court may also consider additional factors like special needs or extraordinary expenses when determining child support payments.

Modifying Child Custody and Support Orders

It is noteworthy that if a major change in circumstances occurs, the custody and support orders can be adjusted. For example, if one parent loses their job or moves out of state, they can request a modification to the existing order. You must file a Motion to Modify Child Custody or Support with the appropriate Colorado court to do so.

Enforcing Child Support Payments

If your ex-spouse fails to make timely child support payments as ordered by the court, you have several options for enforcement. You can contact your local Child Support Services office, which may help collect overdue payments through wage garnishments or other methods, such as intercepting tax refunds. Noncompliance with child support payments can result in serious legal ramifications, such as fines or imprisonment.

Child custody and support are important issues to consider when going through a divorce in Colorado. Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is the next issue that needs to be addressed during this process.

Key Takeaway: 

A child’s welfare is paramount in Colorado when determining custody and support arrangements. There are two types of custody: legal and physical, with joint or sole options for each. Child support payments are determined by a specific guideline considering income level, yearly overnight stays, and childcare costs. These orders can be modified if circumstances change significantly, while enforcement measures exist for parents who fail to make timely payments.

Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

In Colorado, spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is awarded to provide financial support for one spouse during and after a divorce. This assistance aims to assist the lower-income partner in sustaining their lifestyle while they progress into autonomy.

Determining Eligibility

The court’s evaluation of a partner’s eligibility for spousal maintenance involves examining various factors. These factors include:

  • Each party’s financial resources and ability to meet their own needs independently
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age and health of both spouses
  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • The court deems any other relevant factor necessary to make an equitable decision.

Calculating Spousal Maintenance Amounts

In Colorado, courts use guidelines to calculate spousal maintenance amounts based on income levels and length of marriage. However, these guidelines are not mandatory; judges have discretion in awarding alimony depending on individual circumstances. You can find more information about these guidelines at the official Colorado Judicial Branch website.

Maintenance Duration

Spousal maintenance may be temporary or permanent depending on various factors such as:

  • Earning capacities
  • A recipient’s ability to become self-supporting
  • Caregiving responsibilities for children
  • The court deems any other relevant factor necessary to make an equitable decision.

Spousal maintenance is a significant factor to consider when dissolving a marriage, and being aware of the rules can assist in attaining an equitable result for both sides. Once the spousal maintenance has been agreed upon, further steps are still needed to reach a legally binding divorce agreement.

Finalizing the Divorce Process

Finalizing the divorce process in Colorado involves several steps, including submitting all required paperwork and attending court hearings if necessary. The following are essential aspects to consider when finalizing your divorce:

A. Submitting Final Documents

Once you have reached agreements on asset division, child custody, support arrangements, and spousal maintenance (if applicable), you must submit these agreements and other required documents to the court for approval. These may include a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, a Separation Agreement outlining property divisions and financial responsibilities, and any parenting plans or child support orders.

B. Court Approval

The judge will review your submitted documents to ensure they comply with Colorado law. If everything is in order, the judge will sign off on your Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, officially ending your marriage. In some cases where there are disputes or complex issues involved that cannot be resolved through negotiation or mediation, it may be necessary for both parties to attend a contested hearing before a judge who will make decisions regarding those unresolved matters.

C. Waiting Periods & Effective Dates

Colorado has a mandatory 91-day waiting period from the date one spouse files for divorce until it can become final (C.R.S. § 14-10-106). This waiting period is intended to give couples time to reconsider their decision and potentially reconcile. Once the waiting period has elapsed, if both spouses have agreed to all aspects of their divorce and submitted a signed Separation Agreement, then in some cases, the court may choose to waive any remaining days.

D. Updating Personal Records & Legal Documents

After your divorce is finalized, it’s essential to update your personal records and legal documents such as driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, passports, wills or trusts, insurance policies (auto/home/life), retirement accounts (401k/IRA/pension plans), bank accounts/credit cards/debts/taxes/title transfers for property/assets/liabilities.

In conclusion, finalizing a divorce in Colorado involves several steps, including submitting required paperwork like a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage and attending court hearings if necessary. It’s important to be aware of mandatory waiting periods and ensure you update personal records after your divorce has been granted.

Key Takeaway: 

To finalize a divorce in Colorado, couples must submit final documents such as a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage and attend court hearings if necessary. A 91-day pause is necessary before the divorce can be finalized, allowing couples to reflect on their choice. Once the divorce is authorized, it’s essential to revise individual records and legal documents like driver’s licenses and insurance plans.


Divorcing in Colorado can be a complicated experience, so being aware of the state’s laws is key to navigating it effectively. From filing for divorce to finalizing the process, there are many important factors to consider, including grounds for divorce, division of assets and debts, child custody and support, and spousal maintenance.

Enlisting legal counsel from a knowledgeable attorney is essential for the best possible outcome in your Colorado divorce. Legal Scoops provides comprehensive legal resources and services for individuals facing family law issues.