Whether months of marriage counseling failed to resolve deep issues with your relationship, or your spouse blindsided you over dinner one night with a request to separate, you are reeling. What options do you have? What’s the most strategic course of action?
At Stahly LLC, we believe in empowering our clients. We want you to understand your choices—to know what options are available. Clarity is key to regaining a sense of control over your circumstances.
Grounds for Divorce
Colorado is one of nearly 40 US states that has a “no fault” policy. “No fault” means just that–a divorcing spouse does not have to prove any malfeasance by the other spouse in order to file for divorce. (By contrast, in states with a fault requirement, one spouse would need to accuse the other of some wrongdoing–such as infidelity–to be entitled to the divorce.)
Timeline for Divorce Proceedings
At least one spouse must reside in Colorado for a minimum of 91 days before a petition for divorce can be filed. If the divorce is uncontested, with no property division issues or no minor children, a divorce may be granted in as few as 91 days. However, contested divorces in Colorado can take significantly longer–around 6-12 months.
Division of Property
While in some states, spouses are entitled to half of the marital estate, Colorado is considered an “equitable distribution” state. This means that, if the parties cannot mutually agree on how to divide marital assets, a judge will decide: Each spouse is required to complete and disclose financial affidavits outlining their income, debts and property. With this information in hand, the court will make a fair distribution based on the relevant facts.
Spousal Support/Financial Maintenance
Similar to the equitable division principle, Colorado law doesn’t automatically require one former spouse to financially support the other. Again, parties may agree to a spousal support arrangement. But if they cannot come to mutually acceptable terms, Colorado courts use a formula to help determine financial support–whether as alimony or another form of financial maintenance. To make this determination, courts review financial disclosures to find out both parties’ incomes, assets and ability to provide for themselves and each other.
Child Support and Visitation
If you have children, the preferable solution is to design a mutually agreeable plan regarding primary custody, visitation and financial support. If you and the other parent cannot agree, the courts will work with you to determine an arrangement in the best interests of the children.
While your reasons for divorce may not be relevant for the divorce itself (given Colorado’s “no fault” laws), these same issues may be relevant in custody determinations. If there are extenuating circumstances that could impact either spouse’s suitability for child custody or visitation, or the ability to pay child support, it may be important to discuss these with an attorney–prior to any court proceedings.
For insight into your situation, please contact the experienced Boulder divorce lawyer at Stahly LLC to set up a private consultation.