Divorce in Colorado: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated April 5, 2024by Charlie Barton

From grounds for divorce to child custody, alimony, and more, this guide will take you through divorce in Colorado.

Summary

  • Colorado is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning neither spouse has to prove any wrongdoing as the cause of the divorce.

  • Before filing for divorce in Colorado, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days.

  • Colorado does not have a mandatory separation period for divorce.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

What are the grounds for divorce in Colorado?

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Colorado is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning neither spouse has to prove any wrongdoing as the cause of the divorce.

Instead, one or both partners can state that the marriage has become “irretrievably broken” and that reconciliation is impossible.

What is the cost of divorce in Colorado?

When considering divorce in Colorado, many individuals are eager to understand the potential expenses involved.

The cost of a divorce in the state can vary significantly based on several factors, including:

  • Whether the divorce is contested or uncontested

  • Whether there are children involved

  • Whether there are complex assets to divide

  • Whether the parties need mediation or litigation

According to the Colorado Judicial Branch, the filing fee for a divorce in Colorado is $232, which must be paid when the divorce petition is filed. However, this is only one of the expenses that may arise during a divorce process.

Other costs may include:

  • Attorney fees

  • Court fees

  • Mediation fees

  • Expert fees

  • Other miscellaneous fees

According to CCB Law, the average cost of a divorce in Colorado is between $10,000 and $15,000. However, it could be much more or significantly less, depending on the unique circumstances of each case.

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How to file for divorce in Colorado?

Filing for divorce in Colorado involves several steps that individuals must follow to initiate the legal process:

1. Meet residency requirements: Before filing for divorce in Colorado, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for a minimum of 90 days.

2. Gather necessary documents: Collect all relevant documents, including:

  • Financial records

  • Property deeds

  • Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements

  • Other relevant paperwork related to assets, liabilities, and children.

3. Complete required forms: Obtain and complete the necessary divorce forms for Colorado, including:

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

  • Summons

4. File the forms: Submit the completed forms to the appropriate county court along with the filing fee.

5. Serve divorce papers: If you are the petitioner (filing spouse), serve the divorce papers to the other spouse (respondent) through:

  • Process server

  • Law enforcement officer

  • Another qualified person.

6. Waiting period: After serving papers, a mandatory waiting period of 91 days begins as a cooling-off period required by Colorado law.

7. Parenting class (if applicable): Complete a parenting class covering co-parenting issues and child well-being if you have children under 18.

8. Negotiate settlement (if applicable): If both spouses agree on issues like property division, child custody, and spousal support:

  • Draft a written settlement agreement.

  • Submit the agreement to the court for approval.

9. Finalize the divorce: After the waiting period and upon approval of the paperwork, the court issues a final divorce decree.

Remember, divorce procedures can vary based on individual circumstances and local court rules.

How do you split up assets in Colorado?

In Colorado, equitable distribution principles outlined in the Colorado Revised Statutes govern the division of assets during a divorce.

According to these statutes, the courts aim to divide marital property fairly, though not necessarily equally, between the divorcing parties.

Key factors influencing this division include:

  • Length of the marriage: The duration of the marriage plays a role in asset division, with longer marriages often leading to more equitable distribution.

  • Financial contributions: Courts consider the financial contributions made by each spouse during the marriage, including income and investments.

  • Economic circumstances: The post-divorce economic circumstances of each spouse are taken into account to ensure a fair division.

  • Non-monetary contributions: Courts also consider non-monetary contributions such as homemaking and childcare.

According to Colorado law, marital assets include property and debts acquired during the marriage, while separate property typically remains with the original owner.

How does alimony work in Colorado?

In Colorado, alimony, often referred to as "spousal maintenance," is a financial support arrangement that can be awarded to one spouse during or after a divorce to assist them in maintaining a similar standard of living to what they had during the marriage.

The determination of alimony is based on several factors:

  • Length of the marriage: The duration of the marriage plays a significant role, with longer marriages often leading to a higher likelihood of alimony being awarded.

  • Financial resources and needs: Colorado courts consider each spouse's financial resources and needs, including their income, assets, and financial obligations.

  • Marital lifestyle: The lifestyle maintained during the marriage is taken into account, as alimony aims to help the receiving spouse maintain a similar standard of living.

  • Contributions to the marriage: The contributions of each spouse, both financial and non-financial, are evaluated when determining alimony.

Colorado courts consider both temporary and permanent alimony arrangements, with temporary support often designed to bridge the financial gap until the receiving spouse becomes self-sufficient.

Permanent alimony, on the other hand, is typically awarded in long-term marriages and may continue indefinitely.

It's important to note that alimony laws and calculations can be complex. The specific terms of alimony are determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the unique circumstances of each divorce.

What happens to children during a divorce in Colorado?

Children are often caught in the middle during a divorce. 

Here is a breakdown of how such matters are resolved during a divorce in Colorado:

1. Child custody

According to Colorado state law, child custody matters during a divorce are primarily determined with the best interests of the child in mind. This involves considering various factors:

  • Each parent's ability to provide a stable and loving environment.

  • The child's relationship with each parent.

  • The child's adjustment to their current living situation.

  • The child's physical and emotional needs.

Courts in Colorado encourage parents to reach a mutually agreeable parenting plan whenever possible.

If parents cannot agree on custody arrangements, the court may appoint a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) or a Parental Responsibility Evaluator (PRE) to assess the family's circumstances and make recommendations.

These recommendations are carefully reviewed by the court to arrive at a final custody arrangement.

2. Child support

Child support in Colorado is determined using statutory guidelines outlined in the Colorado Child Support Guidelines (CCSG). This involves the consideration of several factors:

  • Each parent's gross income

  • The number of children involved

  • Parenting time arrangements

  • Other relevant expenses

According to data reported by the Colorado Judicial Branch, child support calculations in the state are based on a specific percentage of the obligor's income for one child, two children, and so on, as stipulated by the CCSG.

Courts take child support matters seriously to ensure the financial well-being of the child post-divorce.

How to protect your finances when going through a divorce in Colorado

Going through a divorce can be a stressful and challenging time, especially when it comes to finances.

You may have many questions and concerns about how to protect your assets, manage your debts, and plan for your future.

Here are some ways you can protect your money when going through a divorce:

  • Organize your finances: Before filing for divorce, gather all relevant financial information and documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and retirement accounts. Make a list of all assets and liabilities, both marital and non-marital. This will help you and your spouse negotiate a fair distribution of property and debts.

  • Consider mediation: Mediation is a process where you and your spouse work with a neutral third party to resolve issues related to your divorce, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Mediation can be less time-consuming, less expensive, and less stressful than going to court. It can also help you maintain a cooperative relationship with your spouse after the divorce.

  • Think about Social Security: If you have been married for at least 10 years, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. This can provide valuable income during retirement, especially if your ex-spouse earned more than you. However, certain criteria must be met to qualify for this benefit.

  • Seek professional help: Divorce can significantly impact your financial situation. Consider consulting with a financial advisor specializing in divorce to help you navigate these changes and plan for your future.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

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Writer

Charlie Barton

Charlie Barton is a writer at Unbiased. He has been writing about personal finance and investing since 2017, with extensive knowledge of platforms and products. Charlie has a first-class degree from the London School of Economics.

Need help managing your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.