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  • How long does it take to get divorced in Colorado?
    A divorce in Colorado takes at least 91 days. There is a statutory waiting period of 91 days before a divorce can be finalized. In Colorado, most divorce cases take six to nine months. Your divorce may take a year or longer if it involves complex assets, difficult parenting issues, the need for experts, a final hearing, or multiple hearings. Read more in our article on how long it takes to get divorced in Colorado.
  • How much will a divorce cost in Colorado?
    The cost of each divorce case varies on a case-by-case basis. The more terms of your divorce you can agree on, the less it will ultimately cost. If you mostly agree on the terms of your divorce, then your attorney fees and costs may be around $5,000 to $7,000. If you disagree on the terms of your divorce and experts, a final hearing, or multiple hearings are needed, then attorney fees can range anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 plus.
  • How is property divided in a Colorado divorce?
    Colorado law requires an equitable distribution of marital property in divorce cases. In practice, equitable distribution often means a near 50/50 division of marital property. Unless one spouse has significant separate property that cannot be divided by the Court, most judges divide marital property nearly equally. There are exceptions for property acquired in varying ways and the property being divided is only that qualifying as marital property. Marital property is generally property acquired during the marriage and the increase in value of separate property during the marriage. For a better understanding, see our article on divorce basics.
  • What is the process for filing for divorce in Colorado?
    In Colorado, there are two ways to start the divorce process: 1) you can file a Co-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage signed by you and your spouse, if you and your spouse both agree on getting divorced, and a Case Information Sheet, 2) one spouse can file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Case Information Sheet, and Summons, and either serve these documents on the other spouse by a process server or ask their spouse to sign a Waiver and Acceptance of Service so they do not have to be formally served. Read more in our article about the divorce process.
  • Will I need to appear in Court for my divorce?
    If your case does not need a contested hearing, then you may never have to appear in Court in person for your divorce. Even if your case is uncontested, you will need to appear for a status conference, however, these are mostly being conducted virtually or by phone in many Colorado Courts. If you have minor children and you or your spouse do not have an attorney, then you may also need to appear virtually for a non-contested final hearing. If you and your spouse both have attorneys, then you can avoid having to appear for the non-contested hearing by filling an Affidavit for Decree without Appearance of Parties. Read more about how divorce cases are decided in Colorado.
  • What are the residency requirements for getting a divorce in Colorado?
    You or your spouse must have been a resident of Colorado for 91 days before you can file for divorce in Colorado. If you have minor children, then the children must have resided in Colorado for 182 days before Colorado has jurisdiction over the children. Read more in our article about how long divorce takes in Colorado.
  • Will I be entitled to spousal support after the divorce?
    If one spouse earns a significantly higher income than the other spouse and the spouse asking for maintenance can show a need and that the higher earning spouse has the ability to pay, then spousal maintenance is likely to be awarded. There are a number of statutory factors that the Court also takes into account when determining an award of spousal maintenance.
  • How is child custody determined in Colorado?
    In Colorado, what used to be called child custody is now called parental responsibility. Parental responsibility includes determination of physical custody, which is now called parenting time, and legal custody, which is now called decision-making authority. Colorado law requires that the Courts allocate parenting time and decision making in the best interest of the minor children. There are a number of statutory factors that the Court must consider when determining the best interests of the minor children. If there are no issues such as substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health disorders, then the Court will usually lean toward allocating 50/50 parenting time, as long as the parents live close enough that a 50/50 schedule is practical.
  • What happens to our debt in divorce?
    In Colorado, debt is equitably divided in divorce. If one spouse has acquired more credit card debt in their name, then that spouse may be allocated more marital property to help equalize the overall distribution of marital property and debt. This is the case because credit card debt is a contract and the Court cannot Order that a different person be responsible.
  • What happens if my spouse and I can’t agree on the terms of the divorce?
    If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, then the Court will hold a permanent orders hearing to determine the issues in your case. Both spouses will testify, present evidence, and make arguments regarding their position. The judge will then make the ultimate decision on the issues in an Order. Read more in our article about who decides your case.
  • How can I protect my assets during divorce?
    The best way to protect your assets is to plan ahead in the event of divorce. If you have significant property and you are planning to get married, then you should enter into a prenuptial agreement that defines how you keep property owned before the marriage separate. Read more in our article about Marital Agreements. If you do not have a prenuptial agreement, then you should keep property owned before the marriage titled in only your name or the name of a family member. It is best to not title property owned before the marriage in your spouse’s name because this creates a presumption that you intended to gift the property to the marriage. Once the divorce process is started, then there is not much you can do to protect assets that are considered marital. A good attorney will recognize and trace any assets shifted around in attempts to avoid their division in divorce.
  • How can I prepare for a divorce?
    You can prepare for divorce by consulting with an experienced divorce attorney to understand Colorado’s divorce laws specific to your rights. It’s helpful to analyze your finances, including both spouse’s incomes, expenses, assets, and debts. You should also consider your housing situation during and after the divorce and make a plan for shifting into a new living situation if necessary.
  • Can I change the terms of my divorce agreement after it’s finalized?
    Whether you can modify the terms of your divorce agreement depends on the terms in your agreement, but it is unlikely you can change property division terms. Parenting time, decision making, and child support can be modified. Typically, the division of property and debts is not something that can be modified, unless marital property was not disclosed during the divorce process. Spousal maintenance may be modifiable if there is no provision in your agreement that states it is nonmodifiable.
  • How can I ensure my children’s best interests are taken into account during the divorce?
    If you have serious concerns about the other parent’s ability to parent your children, then you may want to consider asking the Court to appoint a Child and Family Investigator (CFI). A CFI is an investigative arm of the Court. CFIs typically interview both parents and the children and often conduct a home visit. If a child is mature enough, the child’s preference on parenting time can be admitted as evidence through the CFI’s report. In practice, CFIs rarely find that children not well into their teen years are mature enough that their wishes be strongly considered. There is no specific age in Colorado at which a child's wishes are considered. Otherwise, Courts do not typically hear from children in Court. It’s always helpful to consult with a divorce attorney for more information on how to ensure your children’s best interests are taken into account during the divorce.
  • How can I choose the right divorce attorney for my case?
    Before calling an attorney, it helps to read attorney reviews online to see what past clients shared about their experience with that attorney. When talking with an attorney about your case, you should ask who you will be working directly with on your case. At some large firms, the attorney you consult with does not actually handle most of the work on your case and the person who you work most closely with is a legal assistant, paralegal, or new associate. You should also ask the amount of the attorney’s billable hour. You also want to ensure that your goals and the attorney’s philosophy are aligned. If you hire an attorney who is aggressive and one of your goals is to maintain a positive relationship with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, an aggressive attorney may negatively affect your relationship with your soon-to-be ex spouse. Read more about divorce attorneys Emily Ellison and Will Ellison.
  • What should I do if my spouse is hiding assets during the divorce process?
    If you have concerns that your spouse is hiding assets during the divorce process, then you can use litigation tools called “discovery.”Discovery mostly consists of written requests that your spouse must answer under oath and disclose documents requested beyond the statutory financial disclosure requirements. You can also subpoena banks for bank statements. You can hire a private investigator to search for bank accounts. The court and the judge do not do any investigation themselves. It is up to you and your attorney to request the information needed from your spouse and then complain to the court if it is not provided.
  • What are the grounds for divorce in Colorado?
    Colorado is a no-fault state. No-fault means that a showing of fault is not required to obtain a divorce. You must allege in the Petition that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Even if one spouse disagrees that the marriage is irretrievably broken, Courts will not hold a party in the marriage.
  • What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce?
    A contested divorce means you disagree on one or more issues in your divorce. Uncontested means you mostly agree on all issues of the divorce. If you cannot come to an agreement, then a contested hearing is needed for the judge to resolve the issues. If your case is uncontested, then you will not need to attend a contested hearing and you file a Separation Agreement and, if there are minor children, a Parenting Plan, with the Court. Read about the different approaches in an uncontested divorce on our page here. Also, read more in our article about who decides your case.
  • What should I do if my spouse is being uncooperative during the divorce?
    If your spouse refuses to sign a Co-Petition, then you can file a Petition on your own and formally serve your spouse. There is no requirement your spouse sign the Petition. One spouse's disagreement with the divorce does not stop the process from proceeding, though it may slow it. If your spouse tries to dodge formal service, it can be helpful to work with an attorney and a process server to achieve service or after attempting service to no avail, you can publish notice in a local newspaper. If your spouse refuses to provide financials, you can issue a subpoena to their employer, bank, or financial institution to obtain the necessary financial documents. You can also ask the Court for sanctions against a non-cooperative spouse. If your spouse will not agree on the final terms of your divorce, then you likely need to request a permanent orders hearing.
  • What is the role of a mediator during the divorce?
    In most Colorado judicial districts, mediation is required before the Court will hold a contested permanent orders hearing. Some cases may be resolved without the need for mediation, if you and your spouse both agree on all terms and submit signed written agreements to the Court. The mediator is a neutral third-party, who can be an attorney but does not have to be. The mediator tries to help the parties reach an agreement on all issues of the divorce case. What is discussed in mediation is confidential.
  • What are the tax implications of getting a divorce?
    Most asset transfers between spouses in a divorce are not taxed. There can be income tax owed on certain retirement account transfers. If the retirement account contains pre-tax dollars, then the recipient spouse will have to pay income tax on any funds that are cashed out. If the transferred retirement account funds remain in a retirement account, then there are no taxes paid. Capital gains may also be owed on certain types of property.
  • What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?
    In Colorado, the process to obtain a legal separation and a divorce is almost identical. With a legal separation, you are still legally married and cannot get remarried, you can file taxes jointly, and you may inherit property from your spouse in the event of their death. Some employers will allow a spouse to remain on the other spouse’s health insurance, however, some employers will not allow a spouse to remain on their spouse’s health insurance policy after a legal separation. If you obtain a decree of legal separation, you must wait 182 days until you can file a Motion to Convert the Decree of Legal Separation to a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. You must mail a copy of the Motion to your spouse and they do not have to agree on the conversion.
  • How is child support calculated in Colorado?
    In Colorado, child support is calculated based on both parents’ gross monthly incomes, the number of overnights each parent has, the number of children, and a number of other deductions that may affect the child support number, including whether one parent covers the child on their employer’s health insurance policy.

Frequently Asked Questions in Colorado Divorce and Family Law

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