Colorado Divorce FAQs
- Does the Court require divorcing couples to go through counseling before obtaining a divorce decree?
- What is mediation, and why did the Court order me to attend a session?
- Can I change the date of the ISC? I will be traveling on business that day.
- How do I obtain an annulment?
- I divorced in another country and am concerned that my divorce may not be valid in Colorado.
- What exactly are temporary orders in a divorce proceeding?
- How do I initiate divorce proceedings when my wife serving in the military overseas?
- My husband left me and our 3 children last year. Can I divorce him for abandonment?
- What is an "Initial Status Conference"?
- Will I have to attend a hearing or several hearings when I divorce?
- Is it necessary to serve my spouse with divorce papers after I file?
- Is it possible to continue my coverage on my wife's health insurance after we divorce?
- What forms are required in order to obtain a divorce?
- How long is a legal separation valid?
- How long will our divorce take?
- My husband of 4 years left me and I don't know where he is. Can I divorce him without having his current address?
- Instead of going back to my maiden name, can I create an entirely new last name after my divorce?
- Can I ask my spouse to pay for the divorce?
- Is it to my advantage to have my wife file for divorce since she is the one who wants to end our marriage?
- Do I have to let the court know that my former wife's boyfriend is contributing to her household expenses? She wants a lot of extras from me and her expenses are just not that high when you factor in the fact he pays for the mortgage and food.
- My ex was laid off of his job as an electrical engineer making $200,000 per year, and is now working in a bookstore for $12 an hour. Is the Court going to use the hourly income he has from his present job or use the annual income he used to make?
- How long must I be married before I can receive spousal support?
- I was recently laid off and want to know if I can stop paying maintenance?
- Eleven months ago, I was ordered to pay maintenance to my ex wife for a period 10 years. I have recently become disabled and am no longer working. Can I get the amount of the maintenance award lowered or even stopped?
- What can happen to me if I don't pay maintenance?
- My husband makes $80k per year. How much will I be awarded in maintenance?
- What is a QDRO?
- I was ordered to pay maintenance to my wife for 6 years, but she remarried last month. Can I stop paying maintenance now?
- What is temporary maintenance?
- Can I receive alimony when I divorce my husband of 20 years?
- I found out my husband was cheating on me and taking expensive vacations with his new girlfriend. Will the Court consider his actions when dividing marital property?
- Does my soon to be former husband have a claim to the insurance settlement I will be receiving from automobile accident that occurred during our marriage?
- My wife of 18 months just left me for another man. Can I ask her for the engagement ring back?
- During my marriage, my mother gifted me money every year and I deposited the funds into my personal savings account. Do I have to disclose this account?
- Is my former fiancé legally obligated to return the diamond engagement ring to me now that she has refused to marry me?
- My husband has been very secretive regarding our finances throughout our 10 year marriage, and he owns several businesses. Will I need to hire a private investigator to determine our net worth?
- After I file for divorce, can I withdraw $30,000 from my personal 401(k) so I can move out?
- Am I within my rights to ask my wife to leave our home, after we file for divorce? The house is in my name.
- The house and both of our cars are titled in my husband's name. Is it true that I have no right to these assets?
- During our marriage, and even after we separated, my wife ran up many thousands of dollars of credit card debt on our joint accounts. Am I responsible for half of her debt?
- What's the difference between a contested hearing and a non-contested hearing?
- Do I need a marriage certificate to be legally married?
- I have been living with my girlfriend for 3 years. Are we common law married?
Q: Does the Court require divorcing couples to go through counseling before obtaining a divorce decree?
A: The only counseling requirement that currently exists in Colorado is a mandatory 3 hour parenting class for divorcing couples who have children.
Q: What is mediation, and why did the Court order me to attend a session?
A: Mediation is often ordered by Courts to determine if the case can be resolved before the Judge makes the final decision. Mediation is conducted by a neutral third party, who may or may not be an attorney. The process requires that the mediator listen to both parties and work with them in an attempt to create a settlement. It is not necessary, however, that an agreement between the parties be reached during the session.
Q: Can I change the date of the ISC? I will be traveling on business that day.
A: The Initial Status Conference is set by the Court, but they will generally allow you to reschedule. However, you may be required to obtain the other party's consent before the date can be changed. If you cannot change the hearing date, you can request that you be allowed to testify by telephone. If you hire an attorney, they can appear on your behalf, but the court will still want you to call in for the hearing.
Q: How do I obtain an annulment?
A: A declaration of invalidity can be used in cases where a person was:
1. Unable to consent to the marriage because of mental infirmity or incapacity. The incapacity can be caused by drugs or alcohol.
2. Unable to consummate the marriage and the other partner did not know of the problem.
3. Married based on a fraudulent representation of the other party that pertained to the basis of the marriage.
4. Married under duress caused by the other party or a third party.
5. Married as part of a jest or dare.
The action for Declaration of Invalidity for these reasons must be filed within six months of discovering the reason. If a person finds out that their partner could not consummate the marriage, he must file the action within 6 months of discovery of the problem. If he does not file within six months, dissolution is the only remedy.
Q: I divorced in another country and am concerned that my divorce may not be valid in Colorado.
A: Colorado will generally give full faith and credit to the laws of another country. Therefore a divorce that occurred outside the US has probably dissolved the marriage as a matter of Colorado law. If this is disputed you can file/register the foreign divorce decree in Colorado to confirm the dissolution of the marriage. If there are remaining issues (such as dividing property or financial support) then Colorado can address those issues if a case is filed in Colorado.
Q: What exactly are temporary orders in a divorce proceeding?
A: During "Temporary Orders" the Colorado court can order parties in divorce proceedings to make certain payments while the divorce is pending. These can include orders to pay the mortgage, make maintenance (alimony) payments, and pay child support. There is often a delay between filing for the divorce and the entry of temporary orders hearing. The delay can range from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the county.
Q: How do I initiate divorce proceedings when my wife serving in the military overseas?
A: If your wife is being cooperative and you have reached an agreement, you may be able to obtain a divorce via the mail. Otherwise, depending on her deployment status, she may be able to put the divorce on hold until she returns to the state to participate in the proceedings.
Q: My husband left me and our 3 children last year. Can I divorce him for abandonment?
A: Colorado is a no fault divorce state and no reasons are required for divorce other than the belief that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Q: What is an "Initial Status Conference"?
A: A: The initial status conference is often the first Court date in your divorce case. The Court meets with both spouses at the ISC to determine how the case is progressing and what issues need to be addressed. If there are issues on which you and your spouse cannot agree, the Court may order the parties to attend a mediation session and/or set the matter for a contested hearing.
Q: Will I have to attend a hearing or several hearings when I divorce?
A: There will be at least one hearing. First there is an initial status conference, where the court will ask you to describe your issues and appoint any necessary experts. Generally, no substantive orders will be issued at that time unless it is just to approve agreements that you make with your husband. Then, you may have a Temporary Orders hearing, where the Court will decide things like who pays what during the divorce and how parenting time shall be divided until the Permanent Orders hearing. Then, you will have a Permanent Orders hearing where the Court will make the final decisions as to parenting time, division of assets and debts, child support, maintenance and other issues. However, at any time after the Initial Status Conference and completing the financial disclosure process, you can submit a signed Separation Agreement and Parenting Plan so that you do not have to attend any additional hearings. It is virtually impossible to tell you when your hearing will take place as much of that depends upon how long it takes you and your husband to complete the disclosure process. However, the Court cannot enter a decree of dissolution of marriage until after 90 days has expired from the time of the filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage if you file as Co-Petitioners or from the time that you are served.
Q: Is it necessary to serve my spouse with divorce papers after I file?
A: In order for the divorce to proceed, the opposing party must be put on notice of the proceeding. The Judge cannot enter orders until the party has been properly served.
Q: Is it possible to continue my coverage on my wife's health insurance after we divorce?
A: Once you are divorced you can not be covered under your wife's health insurance. It is likely, however, that you would be eligible to continue your insurance coverage through COBRA for up to 3 years if you pay the premiums. In some cases where one of the parties has significant medical concerns, the parties often file for a legal separation to allow the spouse with health issues to remain on the other's health insurance.
Q: What forms are required in order to obtain a divorce?
A: The forms necessary to obtain a divorce in Colorado include: Sworn Financial Statements, an Affidavit of Non-Appearance, Decree, Separation Agreement and Support Order (if there is maintenance). You are required to complete all of these forms and file them with the Court. Upon the expiration of 90 days from the date the Petition is filed, the Court can enter your decree.
Q: How long is a legal separation valid?
A: Once the Court enters a decree of legal separation, it is effective for at least six months. After that period of time, either party can request that the legal separation be converted to a decree of dissolution of marriage even if the other party objects. If neither party requests a conversion, the legal separation will remain in effect indefinitely.
Q: How long will our divorce take?
A: The minimum amount of time it takes to obtain a divorce in Colorado is 90 days, but if there are child involved, they must live in this state for at least 6 months before the Court will address the allocation of parental responsibility.
Q: My husband of 4 years left me and I don't know where he is. Can I divorce him without having his current address?
A: In situations where a spouse cannot be located and thus cannot be served with the divorce papers, it is still possible to obtain a divorce. The process requires that you to provide notice through "publication." The procedure entails placing an announcement in local newspapers where the opposing party is likely to find them. If after a certain period of time has lapsed the spouse does not respond to the notification, the Judge can grant dissolution of marriage.
Q: Instead of going back to my maiden name, can I create an entirely new last name after my divorce?
A: There is a section on the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or
Legal Separation document that allows you to request that your name be restored to a previous name. Changing to an entirely new name can be accomplished using a separate name change petition.
Q: Can I ask my spouse to pay for the divorce?
A: You can request that your spouse pay for your attorney's fees, but there is no guarantee that the Court will grant your request. The Court will compare your relative positions in regard to income and property and if there is a disparity, the Court will generally attempt to create a balance by awarding requested attorney fees.
Q: Is it to my advantage to have my wife file for divorce since she is the one who wants to end our marriage?
A: The divorce process in Colorado is initiated with one of the spouses filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Since Colorado is a "no-fault" divorce state, this means that it is of no consequence to the Court who files first, and the Court will not compensate the spouse who wished to remain married.
Q: Do I have to let the court know that my former wife's boyfriend is contributing to her household expenses? She wants a lot of extras from me and her expenses are just not that high when you factor in the fact he pays for the mortgage and food.
A: Child support is based strictly upon the parent's income. A
significant other's income is not part of the calculation. The Sworn
Financial Statement form has a space for a person to indicate how many people are living in the home (adults, children). Noting that another adult is included in the expenses is usually sufficient for the Court to understand that there is probably a contribution of income towards those expenses.
Q: My ex was laid off of his job as an electrical engineer making $200,000 per year, and is now working in a bookstore for $12 an hour. Is the Court going to use the hourly income he has from his present job or use the annual income he used to make?
A: In situations like these, Courts can rule that someone is underemployed if they could find work at a higher income, but choose not to. The Court will use his present income only if they find that it was a good faith career choice based upon his current circumstances.
A: There is no specified length of time that a couple must be married
that determines whether or not a party can receive spousal support. The
length of the marriage is only one factor that is taken into account
when determining a maintenance award.
A: In spite of the fact that you are no longer employed, you are still
under a legal obligation to pay maintenance. Depending on your
situation however, you might be able to request a modification, but if
your unemployment is temporary, the Court is not likely to modify the
Q: Eleven months ago, I was ordered to pay maintenance to my ex wife for a period 10 years. I have recently become disabled and am no longer working. Can I get the amount of the maintenance award lowered or even stopped?
A: You can request that the Court modify the maintenance provision
based upon a significant change in circumstance unless your separation agreement states that maintenance cannot be modified.
A: If there is a Court order directing you to pay maintenance, and you
are in violation of that order, you can be held in contempt of Court,
which can be punishable by a jail sentence. The Court could also order
you to pay interest on the unpaid amounts, plus the attorney fees of the
party to whom maintenance is owed.
A: While it is not possible to give you an exact estimate of how much
you could be awarded in maintenance, the following includes the primary factors that the Court will consider in determining the amount of
maintenance to be paid when the parties' combined annual gross income is more than seventy-five thousand dollars:
1. The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including
marital property apportioned to such party, and the party's ability to
meet his or her needs independently, including the extent to which a
provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum
for that party
2. The time necessary for the party seeking maintenance to acquire
sufficient education or training to enable them to find appropriate
employment. The party's future earning capacity is also considered
3. The standard of living established during the marriage
4. The duration of the marriage
5. The age and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse
The amount of maintenance can be negotiated and agreed upon by the
parties involved as long as it is not unconscionable. Additionally,
maintenance can always be waived and a party can use the waiver of
maintenance as a bargaining tool to receive a particular marital asset
or some other benefit. Maintenance usually ranges from 3-5 years, but
is dependent on the above noted factors and can vary significantly.
A: A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a domestic relations order, which allows payouts from a retirement plan to a former spouse. The QDRO is necessary when dividing a retirement account pursuant to divorce proceedings due to the restrictions placed on pensions by Internal Revenue Code and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). A QDRO is necessary to assure that a former spouse may receive benefits as an alternate payee, because without it the benefits may only be paid out to the individual employee who earned the benefits.
Q: I was ordered pay maintenance to my wife for 6 years, but she remarried last month. Can I stop paying maintenance now?
A: It is possible you can stop paying maintenance, but you should review your separation agreement before terminating your payments. In most cases, when the person receiving maintenance remarries, maintenance payments are terminated.
- Temporary maintenance is Court ordered spousal support to be paid to a party while the divorce action is pending.
- Permanent maintenance is spousal support ordered after the divorce is final. The term permanent maintenance does not mean that spousal support is paid indefinitely because the length of permanent maintenance depends on the factors considered when a Court decides to award maintenance.
Q: Can I receive alimony when I divorce my husband of 20 years?
A: In Colorado, "Maintenance" is the term for spousal support or alimony. A Court's decision to award maintenance to one party is made on a case by case basis, and is dependent on several factors:
- Initially the party requesting maintenance must show that he or she does not have the means to provide for his or her reasonable needs
- It must also be shown that he or she has an inability to support themselves through appropriate employment
Once that standard is met, the Court will also consider factors that include:
- The length of the marriage
- The age and physical condition of the party seeking maintenance
- The ability for the spouse to obtain education or training
- The ability of the other party to pay maintenance
A: Because Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, it does not matter why the marriage ended or who caused the break up. The Courts, however, will consider the amount of money spent on the spouse's new love interest when dividing marital assets.
A: A personal injury settlement is considered marital property if it
arises from an accident which occurred during the marriage. Even if the
settlement is for the pain and suffering of one spouse, it is still
considered marital property. Based on the information you provided,
your husband could potentially have a claim to a portion of the
Q: My wife of 18 months just left me for another man. Can I ask her for the engagement ring back?
A: If the ring was an engagement ring, Colorado law will consider it a gift you gave to your wife and it is unlikely that you will get it back. If the ring has significant monetary value, however, it is possible for the Court to consider it a marital asset.
Q: During my marriage, my mother gifted me money every year and I deposited the funds into my personal savings account. Do I have to disclose this account?
A: Both parties in a divorce are legally obligated to disclose all assets at the time of divorce regardless of whether they are believed to be marital or separate assets. If your husband was made aware of the account before the divorce was final, he could ask the Court to set aside the property division until the funds were taken into account. Additional consequences could include the Court finding you in contempt and ordering you to pay your husband's attorney fees.
Q: Is my former fiancé legally obligated to return the diamond engagement ring to me now that she has refused to marry me?
A: The Colorado Supreme Court has held that the recipient of an engagement ring must return it to the giver if it was conditioned upon a subsequent marriage.
Q: My husband has been very secretive regarding our finances throughout our 10 year marriage, and he owns several businesses. Will I need to hire a private investigator to determine our net worth?
A: After filing for divorce, each party is required by law to disclose financial information to other party: pay stubs, bank statements, retirement statement accounts, tax returns, and credit card statements. The parties are also required to file sworn statements with the Court regarding monthly income and expenses. In complex cases, especially those where businesses are involved, it may be necessary to hire a forensic account to trace and uncover assets.
Q: After I file for divorce, can I withdraw $30,000 from my personal 401(k) so I can move out?
A: The automatic injunction does not allow this. Either party is free to use marital property to satisfy expenses in usual course of business or for necessities of life, but major expenditures must be agreed to by your spouse, or you'll have to request a Court order to take a distribution from your retirement account. Even then, you will be expected to account for how the money is spent.
Q: Am I within my rights to ask my wife to leave our home, after we file for divorce? The house is in my name.
A: If the parties in a divorce proceeding cannot agree who stays in the marital home, the Judge will make a decision for them. The fact that the house is in your name only may or may not be a deciding factor.
Q: The house and both of our cars are titled in my husband's name. Is it true that I have no right to these assets?
A: Regardless of how the assets are titled, assets obtained after the date of your marriage are considered marital assets. The Court will divide the marital assets on an "equitable basis", but necessarily an equal one.
Q: During our marriage, and even after we separated, my wife ran up many thousands of dollars of credit card debt on our joint accounts. Am I responsible for half of her debt?
A: Courts will divide debts and assets on an equitable basis. Regarding the debt accumulated during the marriage, there remains a strong possibility that the Court will divide it equally, unless a strong case is presented that one person should be held responsible. Debt accumulated after you file for divorce is still considered marital debt; however, Courts often award the post-filing debt to the party that incurred it.
Q: What's the difference between a contested hearing and a non-contested hearing?
A: A contested hearing is one where both sides have the opportunity to present evidence to the Court, and the Judge makes a decision based on the specifics of the case. A non-contested hearing is for cases where the parties agree upon everything, but a Court appearance may still be necessary to finalize the matter.
Q: Do I need a marriage certificate to be legally married?
A: According to Colorado Revised Statute 14-2-109, the filing of the marriage certificate is a required part of the marriage ceremony. The county clerk and recorder will not register the marriage until the certificate is filed.
Q: I have been living with my girlfriend for 3 years. Are we common law married?
A: There are no clean-cut designations that determine whether someone is common law married or not. All that needs to be shown is that the two of you intended to be common law married and presented yourselves to the public as a married couple. In order to establish a common law marriage, Courts will be looking for specific indicators such as whether or not you maintained joint financial accounts, or joint credit cards. They will also ask if you filed joint tax returns, or listed your significant other as a "spouse" on insurance forms. If other evidence suggests that you are not common law married, however, such findings can negate these items.