For some people, marriage is not forever. Divorce rates have been dropping in many areas, but there are still many couples who are choosing divorce. In fact, divorce in Colorado ranks #15, so these people are likely needing help. How can they divorce with ease? What should they know about the process? Here’s a guide to help you through the divorce process.
Filing for Divorce in Colorado
To file for divorce in Colorado, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least 91 days prior to filing for divorce. However, if you have children, the children must have lived in Colorado for at least 182 days before you can file for a divorce.
To file for divorce, you will need grounds, or a legally acceptable reason to end your marriage. You do not have to prove fault, as Colorado is a no-fault state. You can simply claim “irreconcilable differences” and the judge can grant you a divorce if they find that the marriage is irretrievably broken. This means that the marriage cannot be fixed.
Filing for divorce also means filling out paperwork and giving it to your spouse. There is a process for doing so. You can research the guidelines online, ask the court for help, or work with your lawyer.
In a divorce, marital property must be split. This refers to all assets and debts acquired during the marriage. The spouses can work on an agreement on their own. If they cannot agree, then they can have a court decide. Under Colorado law, marital property is divided using equitable distribution. This means that property is split fairly but this does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split.
The court considers several factors in determining an equitable distribution:
- The contributions of both spouses
- The value of each spouse’s separate property
- The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of the divorce
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is financial support paid from one spouse to another in a divorce. It is not automatic. It must be requested by either spouse if they want it. The judge can decide on alimony based on factors such as:
- Your and your spouse’s income
- Division of the marital property
- Standard of living established during the marriage
If the judge decides to award alimony, they will determine the amount and length of time so that it is fair and reasonable to both spouses. Colorado uses a formula to determine the amount of alimony. The formula multiplies the spouses’ total combined income by 40% and then subtracts the lower earning spouse’s income.
Typically, the longer the marriage, the longer the alimony will last. Also, either party may pay or receive alimony. It is not solely given to women, as sometimes women are breadwinners.
Colorado is different from other states in that it does not use the terms ‘joint’ or ‘sole’ custody. Instead, the state determines the levels of parental responsibility each parent has toward a child and it is based on overnight visits. If one parent has the child for less than 90 overnight visits a year, the other parent has sole parental responsibility. If both parents have at least 90 overnight visits, they have joint parental responsibility.
The court will decide what type of parental responsibility is appropriate based on the best interests of the child. The court will also decide on decision-making responsibility and determine if that should be joint or sole responsibility.
Consult With Professionals
Do not try to handle a divorce on your own. It is best to have professionals on your side to help — and not just lawyers. It is also good to have financial experts on your side to help you budget and manage your money after divorce. This is especially important if your income is low or you were a stay at home parent.
Divorce is an emotional process, so do not forget to get the mental help you need. Counseling can help you handle the various emotions you will be dealing with as you navigate divorce.
Contact Us Today
Divorce can be a frightening process. What steps do you take? How do you make the right decisions? Count on the team at Tanis McGonegal to help you through the process. We will help you understand your legal rights so you can make informed decisions. Schedule a consultation with our Colorado divorce lawyers by filling out the online form or calling (303) 465-4605.