Colorado Springs Divorce Lawyer

Divorce in Colorado: Your Comprehensive Guide

Are you facing the challenging decision of ending your marriage? Navigating the intricacies of divorce can be overwhelming, but having the correct information and guidance can make all the difference.

As leading Colorado divorce lawyers, The Law Office of Andrew Bryant is here to provide a comprehensive understanding of divorce in Colorado. We’ve got you covered, from legal requirements to property division and child custody.

Introduction to Divorce in Colorado Springs

Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, is the legal process through which a marriage is terminated. In Colorado, divorce laws are designed to ensure fairness and protect the rights of both parties involved. Understanding the critical aspects of how divorce works in our state is essential to making informed decisions throughout the process.

What Are the Legal Requirements for Getting a Colorado Divorce?

Here are the legal requirements for filing for divorce in Colorado:

Residency Requirement. You or your spouse must have been a resident of Colorado for a minimum of 91 days before filing the divorce petition. This requirement ensures that the state has jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings.

Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage. Colorado is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that you don’t have to prove any specific grounds for divorce, such as adultery or cruelty. It is sufficient to state that the marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown,” indicating that there is no chance of reconciliation.

Waiting Period. Once the divorce petition has been filed, there is a mandatory waiting period of 91 days before the divorce can be finalized. This waiting period allows both parties to consider reconciliation, attend counseling if necessary, and address any outstanding issues.

Serving Divorce Papers. After one spouse files the divorce petition, the other spouse must be properly served with a copy of the petition and related documents. This can be done through a personal service, in which a third party delivers the documents to the spouse, or through an accepted alternative method as approved by the court.

Property Division. Colorado follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing marital property. This means marital assets and debts are divided equitably but not equally. The court considers factors like the contribution of each spouse to the marriage, the economic circumstances of each spouse, and the value of the marital property.

Child Custody and Support. If there are children involved in the divorce, decisions about child custody and support are crucial. Colorado prioritizes the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. Both parents are expected to submit a parenting plan that outlines how they will share parenting responsibilities and parenting time. Child support is calculated based on the combined income of both parents and the number of overnights each parent spends with the child.

Spousal Maintenance. Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, may be awarded to a financially dependent spouse. The court considers factors such as the financial resources of each spouse, the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, and the ability of the requesting spouse to become self-supporting.

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Colorado law requires that couples participate in mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) before proceeding to trial to attempt to resolve issues such as property division, child custody, and spousal maintenance. Mediation and ADR can help couples reach mutually agreeable solutions and avoid the need for a lengthy and costly court battle.

It’s important to note that divorce laws and requirements can be complex and subject to change. Consulting with an experienced Colorado Springs divorce attorney is highly recommended to ensure you meet all legal requirements and understand your rights and responsibilities throughout the divorce process.

How Property Division Works after a Colorado Divorce: Understanding the Nuts and Bolts

Property division in Colorado after divorce follows the principle of equitable distribution, in which marital property and debts are divided fairly but not necessarily equally. Understanding how property division works in Colorado is essential to ensure a smooth and just process.

Marital Property vs. Separate Property

Marital Property: Assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage. This can include income, real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings purchased or accumulated while married.

Separate Property: Assets and debts acquired by one spouse before the marriage, through inheritance or gift, or after the couple’s separation. Separate property is generally not subject to division during divorce.

Equitable Distribution Factors

When dividing marital property, the court considers various factors to determine what is equitable (fair) based on the circumstances of the marriage and each spouse’s contributions. Some of these factors include:

  • Contribution to the Marriage: Each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage are evaluated. This can include earning income, homemaking, childcare, and other efforts.
  • Economic Circumstances: The financial situation of each spouse is considered. Factors such as income, earning capacity, future financial prospects, and needs are considered.
  • Value of Marital Assets: The court assesses the value of marital assets and debts. This includes determining the worth of real estate, investments, retirement accounts, and other assets.
  • Duration of Marriage: The length of the marriage can impact the division. Longer marriages might lead to more complex considerations and potentially a more balanced distribution.
  • Agreements Between Spouses: If spouses have entered into prenuptial agreements or postnuptial agreements that outline property division, these agreements can influence the court’s decision.
  • Custodial Parent’s Needs: If one parent has primary custody of the children, the court may consider their housing and financial needs when dividing property.

Debt Division

Debts accumulated during the marriage are also subject to division. This can include credit card debt, mortgages, car loans, and other liabilities. The court seeks to divide debts fairly based on the same principles as asset division. However, it’s important to note that even if the court assigns a debt to one spouse, creditors can still pursue payment from both spouses if the debt was jointly incurred.

Mediation and Property Division

Many couples opt for mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to negotiate property division outside of court. This allows for more control over the outcome and can result in a more amicable settlement. Working with a mediator or an attorney during this process can help couples reach mutually agreeable solutions.

How Divorcing in Colorado Impacts Child Custody and Support

Child support and custody are significant considerations during and after a divorce in Colorado. The state strongly emphasizes the child’s best interests when making decisions about custody arrangements and child support. Here’s how child support and custody work in Colorado after a divorce.

Child Custody (Parental Responsibilities)

In Colorado, child custody is referred to as “parental responsibilities,” which includes parenting time and decision-making responsibilities for the child’s upbringing.

Parenting time refers to the amount of time each parent spends with the child, while decision-making responsibilities involve major life decisions, such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.

Factors Considered for Parental Responsibilities

When determining parental responsibilities, the court considers various factors to ensure the child’s well-being:

Best Interests of the Child: The primary consideration is the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. The court aims to create a parenting plan that supports the child’s best interests.

Child’s Wishes: Depending on the child’s age and maturity, their preferences about where they want to live and their desired parenting schedule may be considered.  Always remember that while a child’s wishes may be considered, especially the older a child gets, there is no age in Colorado at which a child can pick which parent they would like to live with.

Parent-Child Relationship: The court evaluates each parent’s ability to provide a nurturing and stable environment for the child. This includes the history of caregiving, involvement in the child’s life, and willingness to foster a positive relationship with the other parent.

Stability and Adjustment: The court examines the stability of each parent’s home, work schedule, and ability to provide consistent routines for the child.

Co-Parenting Ability: The willingness and ability of each parent to effectively co-parent and communicate with the other parent are important factors.

History of Abuse or Neglect: Any history of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence is taken seriously and can impact custody decisions.

Parenting Plans

Colorado requires both parents to submit a parenting plan that outlines how they will share parental responsibilities and parenting time.

If parents can agree on a plan, the court will likely approve it as long as it’s in the child’s best interests. If parents can’t agree, the court may create a plan based on the abovementioned factors.

Child Support

Child support is the financial contribution one parent makes to the other for the benefit of the child. The purpose of child support is to cover the child’s basic needs, including housing, food, clothing, education, and medical expenses.

Calculating Child Support

Child support in Colorado is calculated using specific guidelines outlined in state law. The key factors considered in calculating child support include:

  • Each parent’s gross income
  • Number of overnights the child spends with each parent
  • Childcare expenses
  • Health insurance costs
  • Extraordinary medical expenses
  • Other financial factors

Modification of Child Support and Custody

Child support and custody arrangements can be modified if there’s a substantial and continuing change in circumstances. For example, changes in income, employment, living situation, or the child’s needs may warrant a modification.

What You Should Know about Spousal Maintenance Before Getting Divorced in Colorado

In Colorado, spousal maintenance, also commonly referred to as alimony, is an essential aspect of divorce proceedings. Spousal maintenance is financial support paid from one spouse to the other after divorce to help the receiving spouse maintain a reasonable standard of living and transition to financial independence.

Here’s how Colorado handles spousal maintenance:

Factors Considered for Spousal Maintenance

When determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate and how much should be awarded, Colorado courts consider various factors, including:

Financial Resources: The court evaluates the financial resources of both spouses, including income, property, and any potential for future earnings.

Marital Lifestyle: The standard of living established during the marriage is considered. The goal is to help the receiving spouse maintain a lifestyle similar to what they were accustomed to during the marriage.

Duration of Marriage: The length of the marriage plays a role in determining the duration of spousal maintenance. Longer marriages may result in longer maintenance terms.

Earning Capacity: The court assesses the ability of the receiving spouse to become self-supporting through appropriate employment, education, or training.

Contributions to the Marriage: Both financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage are considered. This includes homemaking, childcare, and supporting the other spouse’s career.

Age and Health: The age and health of both spouses are considered. If one spouse has health issues that limit their ability to work, it could impact the spousal maintenance decision.

Financial and Non-Financial Contributions: The contributions of the receiving spouse to the other spouse’s education, career, or professional advancement are considered.

Types of Spousal Maintenance

In Colorado, there are several types of spousal maintenance:

  • Temporary Maintenance: This is awarded during the divorce proceedings to provide financial support until a final settlement is reached.
  • Rehabilitative Maintenance: Awarded for a specific period to allow the receiving spouse to gain education or training to become self-sufficient.
  • Permanent Maintenance: This is rare and is usually awarded in cases where one spouse cannot become self-sufficient due to age, disability, or other factors.
  • Reviewable Maintenance: Maintenance terms are reviewed at a future date to determine if adjustments are necessary based on changing circumstances.

Modification of Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance orders can be modified if there is a significant and continuing change in circumstances. For example, if the paying spouse’s income significantly changes or if the receiving spouse becomes self-sufficient, the maintenance amount or duration may be modified.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Couples can also include provisions for spousal maintenance in prenuptial agreements (before marriage) or postnuptial agreements (after marriage). These agreements can define the terms of maintenance in the event of divorce, and the court will generally uphold them if they are fair and reasonable. Agreements such as these can be particularly advantageous in high-asset divorces.

Should You Consider Mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution for Your Colorado Springs Divorce?

As we have briefly touched on, mediation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) are commonly used methods in Colorado divorce cases to resolve issues amicably outside of court. These processes allow couples to work together to reach agreements on various aspects of their divorce, such as property division, child custody, and spousal maintenance.

Here’s how mediation and ADR work in a Colorado divorce:


Mediation involves a neutral third party, a mediator, who facilitates discussions between the divorcing spouses. The mediator’s role is to guide the conversation, help identify common ground, and encourage productive communication.

Here’s how mediation typically works:

Selection of Mediator: The spouses either agree on a mediator, or the court may appoint one. The mediator should be experienced in family law and knowledgeable about Colorado’s divorce laws.

Sessions: The mediation process usually involves a series of sessions during which the spouses and the mediator discuss the issues that must be resolved. These issues include property division, child custody, parenting time, child support, and spousal maintenance.

Open Communication: The mediator helps the spouses communicate their needs, concerns, and preferences. The mediator ensures that both parties have an opportunity to express their viewpoints.

Problem-Solving: The mediator guides the parties toward finding mutually acceptable solutions to their issues. This may involve brainstorming, exploring various options, and finding compromises.

Agreement: If the spouses agree on all or some issues, the mediator drafts a memorandum outlining the terms. This is not legally binding but serves as the basis for the final legal documents.

Finalization: The agreements reached in mediation are usually reviewed by attorneys, and if necessary, the terms are incorporated into a formal legal settlement agreement and submitted to the court for approval.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Alternative Dispute Resolution encompasses various methods beyond mediation, such as collaborative law, arbitration, and negotiation. These methods share the goal of avoiding traditional courtroom litigation.

ADR processes include:

  • Collaborative Law: Each spouse is represented by their own attorney, and all parties commit to resolving issues through negotiation and collaboration. Experts, such as financial professionals and child specialists, may also be involved to provide guidance.
  • Arbitration: Similar to a private trial, arbitration involves a neutral arbitrator who listens to both parties’ arguments and makes decisions on unresolved issues. Arbitration decisions are typically binding.
  • Negotiation: Spouses and their respective attorneys negotiate directly to reach agreements. This process may involve exchanging proposals and counteroffers and working toward compromises.

Benefits of Mediation and ADR

  • Control: Mediation and ADR give couples more control over the outcome compared to leaving decisions to a judge.
  • Cost Savings: Mediation and ADR are often more cost-effective than courtroom litigation.
  • Privacy: These methods offer greater privacy than public courtroom proceedings.
  • Preservation of Relationships: Mediation and ADR can help maintain a more amicable relationship between the parties, which is particularly important when children are involved.
  • Faster Resolution: Mediation and ADR processes are generally faster than traditional litigation.

How Can You Ensure Your Rights Will Be Protected When Divorcing in Colorado?

Protecting your rights during a Colorado divorce is crucial to ensure that you achieve a fair and favorable outcome. Here are several steps you can take to safeguard your rights throughout the divorce process:

Consult with an Experienced Attorney

Hiring an experienced family law attorney is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your rights. An attorney can provide legal advice, guide you through the process, and advocate for your interests.

Educate Yourself

Take the time to understand Colorado’s divorce laws and your rights under those laws. Knowledge is power, and being informed about your rights will help you make informed decisions.

Gather Important Documents

Collect all relevant financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, property deeds, mortgage documents, retirement account statements, and any other assets or liabilities. This documentation will be crucial during property division and financial discussions.

Open Individual Accounts

If you have joint accounts with your spouse, consider opening individual bank accounts and credit cards to ensure you have access to funds and credit during and after the divorce process.

Preserve Communications

Keep records of all communication related to the divorce, including emails, text messages, and phone calls. These records can be important if disputes arise later.

Prioritize Children’s Interests

If you have children, prioritize their well-being and best interests. Maintain open communication with your co-parent and be willing to work together to create a parenting plan that benefits the children.

Attend Mediation or ADR

Participate in mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) if possible. These processes can help you and your spouse reach agreements outside of court, which often leads to more amicable settlements.

Negotiate in Good Faith

Approach negotiations with a cooperative attitude. Being willing to compromise and find solutions that work for both parties can help avoid lengthy and costly litigation.

Avoid Impulsive Decisions

Emotional decisions made in the heat of the moment can have long-term consequences. Take your time and make decisions based on rational thinking and consultation with your attorney.

Protect Personal Information

Safeguard your personal and financial information. Change passwords, update security settings, and consider freezing joint accounts if necessary.

Follow Court Orders

If temporary orders or agreements are in place, adhere to them to maintain a positive track record in court.

Document Property and Assets

If you have valuable personal property, take photos and make a list. This documentation can be useful in the event of disputes over property division.

Consider Mediation or ADR

Engage in mediation or ADR to resolve disputes outside of court. This can help protect your rights while promoting a more cooperative and less adversarial process.

Be Mindful of Social Media

Be cautious about what you post on social media, as it could be used against you in legal proceedings.

Seek Emotional Support

Divorce can be emotionally challenging. Seek emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist to help you navigate the process.

Remember, every divorce is unique and may require specific strategies to protect your rights. Working closely with an experienced attorney is essential to ensure that you take the necessary steps to achieve a fair and favorable outcome.