Colorado Divorce Basics

Colorado Divorce Basics

Filing for Divorce – Residency and Filing Requirements

Divorce in Colorado (Dissolution of Marriage), may be obtained when at least one of the spouses has been a Colorado resident 91 days or more before the date a petition for dissolution is filed with the court.  The petition is filed in the District Court for the county in which one of the spouses resides.  By statute, the court may not enter a decree granting a divorcing until 91 days have passed from the time the court obtained jurisdiction.  The court obtains jurisdiction over the spouse filing the petition at the time it is filed and over the other spouse at the time a summons and the petition is served on that party.  There are specific rules for serving a summons that may affect a parties determination on where to file the matter.

At the commencement of the divorce case, an automatic restraining order (injunction) arises which prohibits both parties from harassing the other, removing the children from Colorado, and from disposing of, or hiding, marital property.

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:

Grounds for filing a divorce

The only grounds for dissolution of marriage in Colorado is based on the court finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken

Restoration of 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 within the dissolution proceedings. (Colorado Statutes – Article 10 – Sections: 13-15-101)

Mediation

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)

Financial Disclosures

Once the court obtains jurisdiction over both parties, each party is required to complete a financial affidavit and provide each other with full disclosure of their assets and liabilities.  The required disclosure are the initial basis for the determination of spousal maintenance, child support, and property division between the parties.  Marital Property is discussed in Property Distribution.

Temporary Orders

Often the parties to a divorce need a set of orders from the Court with directions during the pendency of the action.  These might include division of financial responsibilities, such as who will pay which bills, who lives in the house and family support, or regarding parenting rights and responsibilities, such as schedules for when the children are with one parent and not with the other parent, or who is to make decisions affecting the children.  A Court can and usually will provide temporary or interim orders after a short hearing requested by one of the parties to give some direction until the permanent or final orders.

Permanent Orders

Provided the parties do not reach their own agreements related to the divorce, the Court will hold a Permanent Orders hearing, before a District Judge.  At the conclusion of this hearing, the court enters a decree dissolving the marriage and issues permanent orders dividing property and debts, allocating responsibility for the care and parenting of the children, and directing the payment of child support and, if necessary spousal support.  The Permanent Orders hearing can be as short as an hour or take several days, depending upon the complexity of the issues and the animonsity of the parties.