Divorce in Colorado
Colorado is a 'complete no-fault state'
Many legal authorities and family-relations experts believe it's wise to hire an experienced, compatible attorney even in cases in which both parties agree that a marriage has run its course--at least for the petitioner. Doing so helps ensure the settlement is legal and that the final decree will be enforceable.
Counseling highly suggested
Further, both parties are advised to consider counseling, whether by a licensed therapist or bona fide spiritual adviser: Divorce, or as it's known in Colorado, dissolution of marriage, can feel like a death in the family, resulting in emotional trauma and profound grief.
Addressing domestic violence
Experts also caution that if domestic violence is part of the familial equation, that violence must be addressed immediately. An experienced, trained attorney can help with referrals for both counseling and domestic violence.
In Colorado, a major online resource is the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Major links include:
- Emergency, crisis contacts/phone numbers;
- What is domestic violence?;
- Staying safe;
- Info for and about teens;
- Helping someone you know;
- Helping someone who may be abusive.
Colorado also has groups that recognize men can also be be victims of domestic violence; one such group is Domestic Violence Against Men in Colorado.
Assessing 'fault' may come into play only in certain issues
As far as the dissolution of marriage itself, Colorado has done away with traditional "grounds for divorce," requiring simply that the judge find the marriage irretrievably broken. According to a military-oriented site:
Sometimes no one is at fault, sometimes both parties are at fault, and often one is more at fault than the other. But courts are not well suited to those kinds of determinations. Colorado views marriage as a kind of economic and social partnership, and the job of the court in divorce--the "shutting down of the partnership"--is to divide the partnership assets and debts and to provide for the care of the children. On the other hand, the behavior of the parties is often relevant to the issue of child custody.
The law requires the judge to go beyond the request of the person petitioning for the divorce to find whether or not the marriage is, in fact, irretrievably broken. In practice, if the couple wants a divorce, it will be granted. If one of the marriage partners wants a divorce, and the other does not, the judge may give them time to participate in marriage counseling. If the unwilling party continues to want out of the marriage, except for rare circumstances, the divorce will be granted.
The essential residency requirements are "that at least one of the partners to the marriage be a Colorado domiciliary for at least 90 days before the filing of the divorce action. In El Paso County the court will look to a few specific facts in making the domicile determination." If one of the spouses is in the military, certain exceptions can come into play and that person's Leaves & Earnings Statement may be crucial in determining residency.
Online resources for forms
An overview of the forms that might be involved are shown at this Colorado Courts' Web page; some of the most requested include:
- Flowchart to Getting a Divorce or Legal Separation With No Children of this Marriage;
- Flowchart to Getting a Divorce or Legal Separation With Children of this Marriage;
- General Steps to Getting a Divorce or Legal Separation With No Children of this Marriage;
- General Steps to Getting a Divorce or Legal Separation With Children of this Marriage;
- Instructions for Filing a Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation if there are no Children of this Marriage or the Children are Emancipated;
- Instructions for Filing a Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation With Children;
- Instructions for Filing a Response.
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