What is spousal abandonment in Colorado?

What is spousal abandonment in Colorado?As used in Colorado family law, ‘abandonment’ occurs when one partner intentionally leaves the other without taking any property or marital assets. The spouse has physically departed from the shared residence and walked away. If the partner is violent, abandonment may also happen without a physical separation. In either case, the spouse cannot also abandon any legal obligations they may have to support the other spouse.

Colorado’s No-Fault Divorce

Colorado is a state that allows for no-fault divorce, even if it may seem evident that abandonment would be grounds for divorce. Desertion and abandonment are therefore not valid reasons for filing for divorce. Irreconcilable differences serve as the sole basis for divorce. Consequently:

  • Whether or not the other spouse wants to try to fix the problems, the case might proceed if one spouse wishes to file for divorce.
  • Someone seeking a divorce in Colorado may need to take additional measures to end their marriage if abandonment or desertion is a problem.

How Spousal Abandonment is Viewed in Colorado

Despite the fact that Colorado is a no-fault state, a spouse’s behavior can nevertheless affect the divorce process. The result can still be influenced by decisions made on child custody or the use of joint assets. Colorado’s abandonment laws, however, are not very comprehensive.

While a spouse can leave the marital residence without terminating the marriage, abandonment does enter the picture if the departing spouse also ceases providing for the family that is still living there.

Colorado law stipulates that if one spouse departs, they must continue to support the family financially. That includes providing a home and money for any children. Colorado does not consider the spouse to have abandoned the marriage or the marital property as long as they continue to provide support, so this behavior cannot have a negative effect on the divorce process. Colorado law does regard this situation to be spousal abandonment if that support stops.

Abandonment Involving Children and Marital Funds

When children are involved, this can become more complicated. Parental involvement in the lives of the children, whether or not that parent still resides in the family home, is the best method to guarantee that child custody agreement continues to be fair and equitable.

Even if the parent who initially left is given primary custody, Colorado courts place the welfare and stability of children first  and are inclined to keep them in the marital home if this is possible. This implies that the ex-spouse might wind up returning to live with the family.

The outcome of a divorce might also be impacted if one spouse has an affair and utilizes marital resources to finance it. The divorce judgment is not based just on having an affair. If, however, the cheating partner misuses joint finances, the other spouse may be entitled to reimbursement for any money spent on their partner’s affair. This includes expenses for presents, meals, and ways spent on concealing the adultery.

Marital Residences and Spousal Support

A main issue in divorce is what happens to the marital residence. A spouse who leaves their home in Colorado may still be able to keep the house or be eligible for a share of the equity. 

Colorado courts may not take into account whether a spouse has left the marriage, but they do take into account contributions to the household (including not only monetary contributions but also homemaking and property upkeep), the property’s worth, each spouse’s financial position, and the best interests of any minor children.

Spousal maintenance is a legally required financial result of a divorce. In Colorado, spousal maintenance is calculated using a formula that considers the spouses’ salaries, the length of their marriage, any children’s financial needs, the couple’s standard of living, and other concerns. A spouse who leaves the marriage may be required to pay spousal support until the divorce is finalized.

As they must support their own household and that of the soon-to-be former spouse, this can be very burdensome on the departing spouse. This is an excellent reason to proceed cautiously when moving away, even though Colorado is a no-fault state and doesn’t typically take spouse abandonment into account.

To establish if a spouse’s leaving constitutes abandonment, it is vital to speak with an attorney.

Contact Us

Our abandonment attorneys at Goldman Law, LLC have extensive expertise defending both men and women in all types of divorce matters, including high net worth divorce, divorce involving children, same-sex divorce, and other complex issues.

Call our Colorado office at (303) 656-9529 to arrange a meeting with one of our family law attorneys.