Divorce and Separation can be the most stressful experience of your life. So you need skilled, sensitive, and experienced counsel to guide you through the various thickets the divorce process presents. Gaining a divorce decree is generally the simplest part of a process that can be greatly complicated by child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, property division, and other issues.

Colorado divorce law is "no fault" - either spouse can petition for dissolution of marriage simply because the marriage is irretrievably broken. The former “fault” requirements of adultery, cruelty, desertion, etc. been abolished, and Colorado district courts will not even allow evidence of fault, with a few limited exceptions (such as abuse in child custody matters).

Steps to Divorce:
  1. Either you or your spouse must live in the state for at least 90 days prior to filing the action for divorce.
  2. You or your lawyer must file a summons and complaint for dissolution of marriage with the clerk of district court in the county of your residence.
  3. The complaint must then be personally served on your spouse, or your spouse must waive service in writing.
  4. The parties appear before a magistrate or judge to determine resolution of issues, then later appear in court and obtain a divorce decree.
  5. Once the order is signed by the judge, your divorce is final, and you may remarry if you so desire. However, the divorce decree is only one part of the process. It is merely the judicial proclamation that ends your marriage. The complexity of a domestic case arises in deciding other issues such as child custody, child support, division of property, and alimony. These issues are resolved either through negotiation or through a court process.
What About Insurance?
You should also be aware of a federal statute, known as COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) that extends additional medical insurance protection to the dependents of an employed-insured spouse who is separated. Under COBRA certain beneficiaries of health insurance policies who would otherwise lose group coverage upon divorce or separation have the right to continued health care coverage for a limited period of time. The COBRA rules are found in Section 162(k) of the Internal Revenue Code and in Sections 601-608 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 USC Sections 1161-1168. COBRA currently ensures that many spouses and children can continue to be covered by an employed spouse's group health plan for three years following "legal separation or divorce". COBRA provides very strict notice requirements. Parties must comply with these requirements; and you should also check the company notice requirements.

What is Common Law Marriage?
Colorado is a common law state (one of eight) in which couples can be legally married by holding themselves out as married by habit and repute. For instance, sending Christmas cards as Mr. and Mrs. Smith would evidence that the couple wishes to hold themselves out as married. However, there is no “common law divorce” in Colorado; those who are married under the common law, must follow the statutory requirements to obtain a divorce.

When Can I Re-marry?
When a divorce decree is issued by the district court.


Who Gets Maintenance?
According to C.R.S. § 14-10-114, there exists a rebuttasble presumption that, if the gross annual income of the two parties is less than $75,000 per year, the party making the lesser amount will receive maintenance.

How is Maintenance Determined?
By statutory formula. For parties with a combined gross income of $75,000 or less, temporary maintenance is calculated as follows:

Temporary = 40% of higher — 50% of lower
Maintenance gross income gross income

Example 1:
Husband’s income is $48,000 or $4,000 per month
Wife’s income is $24,000 or $2,000 per month
Temporary maintenance $4,000 * 40% - $2,000 * 50%
$1,600- $1,000
= $600/month

How is Maintenance Modified?
Maintenance may be modified only… only upon a showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unfair. Generally, this requires a change in circumstances of 10%.

Property Division

What Property is Divided?
Only marital property, defined as all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage except: a) property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; b) Property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; c) Property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation; and d) Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties.

How is Property Divided?
Colorado follows an “equitable” standard rather than an “equal” standard. A court will follow a three-step process: 1) classification of property as marital or separate; 2) valuation of the property; 3) equitable distribution of the property.

Equitable Standard
A court will review all relevant factors, including: a) contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker; b) value of the property set apart to each spouse; c) economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of the division of property; d) an increase or decrease in the value of the separate property of a spouse during the marriage or the depletion of the separate property for marital purposes.

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