Do you need a reason to divorce in Colorado?

Do you need a reason to divorce in Colorado?You do not need a reason to get a divorce in Colorado, however, you should know something about divorce law in the state to better understand this life changing decision. In particular, the legal requirements needed to get a divorce in the first place. Let’s begin.

There are a couple different ways to get married in Colorado as well as many different ways to terminate a marriage, all of which require a court-issued judgment. The traditional and most popular option is a divorce, which terminates a marriage. However, spouses can also apply for an annulment or, in some circumstances, a legal separation, pending that the requirements for either are met..

Each has pros and cons, but because they are all governed by the same set of laws (Title 14, Article 10), they all follow relatively similar guidelines. The court has final say on how to divide the marital estate, decide the allocation of parental rights, and whether maintenance will be paid and how much will be paid and as well, the court ultimately will have the final say on the calculated amount of child support if the parties are unable to settle their differences. The Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act, which is codified in C.R.S. 14-10-101 et seq., has been adopted by Colorado.

Colorado is a “no-fault” state for divorces. What is a no-fault divorce? In simple terms, it means you can dissolve your marriage at any time and the only allegation that needs to be made is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”. Since the 1970s, Colorado has had no-fault divorce laws.

Fault-Based vs. No-Fault Divorce

A “no-fault divorce” is where the parties are not required to establish fault; in contrast, a “fault divorce” requires the establishment of specific “grounds for divorce.” In the old days, parties to a divorce needed to plead one of numerous grounds for divorce such as adultery, mental illness, abandonment, cruelty, mental illness, and various others. Today, Colorado refers to the dissolution of the partnership as a marital union that is “irretrievably broken.” Legislators have replaced the different “grounds for divorce” with the “no-fault” rule, which allows partners to dissolve their marriage at any time and for any reason.

Fundamental Conditions for a Colorado Divorce

The following conditions must be satisfied for a Colorado court to dissolve the marriage (either by divorce, legal separation, or annulment) and issue permanent decrees resolving all issues:

  1.   Prior to submitting the petition, one spouse must have been domiciled in Colorado for at least 91 days;
  2.   91 days has to have lapsed since the parties filed their case jointly or since the other spouse was served with the Petition and Summons;
  3.   The respondent spouse must be subject to personal jurisdiction in Colorado; and
  4.   Colorado has been the children’s home state for at least 182 days, if there are any.

As long as #1 and #2 are met, the court has authority to at least enter an order of divorce or legal separation. But, with the absence of either #3 or #4, even though the court may declare the marriage dissolved, it might not have the authority to divide the couple’s assets and obligations, make parenting decisions, or require the respondent spouse to pay alimony or child support.

Reasons for a Colorado Divorce or Legal Separation

Since Colorado is a no-fault state, the only legal basis for ending a marriage is that it has been irretrievably broken. C.R.S. 14-10-106(1)(a)(II) (II). And if one partner says the marriage is over, it actually is. C.R.S. 14-10-110(1). (1). Don’t let the statute’s mention of contradicting evidence mislead you; if one spouse wants to end the marriage, the court will grant the order.

Adultery, cruelty, desertion, and other previous grounds for dissolution of marriage have been repealed. Additionally, defenses like condonation, insanity, or collusion have also been eliminated. C.R.S. 14-10-107(5). (5).

Intriguingly, adultery is still illegal in Colorado according to C.R.S. 16-6-501, although there is no stated penalty for it and the last case where it was prosecuted was in 1925. Additionally, adultery may be considered a violation of Article 134 of the UCMJ if one spouse is a member of the armed forces, however this is insignificant in a Colorado family law court.

Judges in Colorado will “keep it clean” since the state is no fault and not even permit a spouse to provide evidence of the other spouse’s misbehavior, except in a few cases, such as hiding assets or abuse while parenting.

Marital vs. Economic Fault

Each party’s transgressions during the marriage are immaterial and are not taken into consideration by the court because divorces in Colorado are handled in this manner. However, Colorado courts distinguish clearly between “marital fault” and “economic fault,” with “marital fault” typically being the type of fault that is not admissible as evidence and including infidelity and the like. For instance, in re Marriage of Jorgenson, 143 P.3d 1169, 1173 (Colo. App. 2006), it states that the trial court may not consider marital blame or misconduct when it is splitting the marital assets.

Contact a Colorado Family Law Attorney

We at Goldman Law, LLC are completely familiar with Colorado family laws and the various ways to dissolve a marriage, including divorce, legal separation, annulments, and disputes relating to military divorce.

Call our Colorado office at (303) 656-9529 to find out how we can assist with your family law or divorce matter.