Colorado allows married couples to legally separate, divorce, or annul a marriage. A divorce ends a marriage, distributes marital property, and terminates each spouse’s marital rights. Colorado has residency requirements for divorce. Typically, you must live in Colorado for at least 90 days before you can file.

A legal separation is like a divorce, except that the couple cannot legally remarry (and may retain inheritance rights). Marital property is divided up and child custody and support may be awarded. In Colorado, legal separation has the same residency requirements as a divorce.

An annulment voids a marriage (and it as if the marriage never occurred). If you have questions about whether to divorce, separate, or annul, contact an experienced lawyer for guidance.

What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce? 

To file for divorce, you must file a series of paperwork with your county’s District Court. These documents include:

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation,
  • Summons for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation, and
  • Case Information Sheet.

Additional forms are required during the divorce process, including financial information and a parenting plan (if needed). Once you have filed your petition and other forms, you must serve them on your spouse. You must have another adult deliver the paperwork—you cannot serve it yourself.

While you do not have to notify your spouse before filing divorce, it may be in your best interest. You may be able to negotiate the terms of your divorce amicably—leading to an easier dissolution of your marriage. However, if you are a victim of domestic violence, consider requesting a restraining order before filing for divorce.

How is Property Divided During a Divorce?

It is always best to negotiate with your spouse before going to court. However, if you cannot agree on how to split up your assets, the court will divide your property equitably. Equitable distribution does not divide your assets 50/50. Instead, the court will determine what is fair based on a series of factors (including the value of your property and each spouse’s economic circumstances).

While marital property is evenly divided between spouses, you typically allowed to keep your separate property. This includes property you acquired:

  • Before the marriage,
  • Inheritances, and
  • Property excluded by a nuptial agreement. 

However, if you commingled separate property (allowing your spouse access and the benefits of the asset), it may be considered marital property. If you have questions about property division, contact a divorce lawyer for assistance. An experienced lawyer may be able to negotiate a fair distribution of your marital property—avoiding the time and expense of litigation. 

What Should You Do If There are Children Involved? 

If you and your spouse have children, you must also address child custody and child support during your divorce. If you and your spouse cannot agree on child support and custody issues, the court will award custody and support based on a series of factors and guidelines—focusing on the best interests of the child.
 
It is important to form a fair and appropriate child support and custody plan before you divorce. It can be difficult to modify these orders later on—and changes or disputes will result in additional attorney fees and costs.

Do You Need to Pay Alimony?

Colorado courts weigh a series of factors before awarding alimony or spousal maintenance. These factors include each spouse’s income, financial needs, and the length of the marriage. Alimony can be awarded on a temporary or long-term basis. (And can even be required while a divorce is pending.) An experienced family law attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations concerning spousal support.

Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer? 

Divorces can quickly become contentious and complicated. If your divorce will involve a significant property division, children, or alimony consider hiring a Colorado divorce lawyer. A lawyer will advocate on your behalf and work to secure the best possible results.