The decision to divorce can be an agonizing one, particularly if you have children still in the home. This emotionally tumultuous time can be full of conflict, as you separate your lives, divide your assets, and try to do what is best for your kids.
It is easy to understand how conflicts can arise, even if the divorce is amicable. Alimony, child support, custody, and visitation rights all need to be determined. Asset separation and distribution can be contentious, and filling out and filing the court documentation can be confusing.
If you are getting divorced in Colorado, it is best that you contact a Colorado divorce attorney. It does not matter if you and your spouse are cooperating because things can always change. A family law attorney can explain the full scope of your rights under Colorado’s divorce laws. An attorney can also help you fill out and file your court documentation.
If your divorce is antagonistic, it is even more important to contact a divorce attorney. As experts in family law, attorneys at our office can help protect your interests throughout the divorce process.
Here are a few things to know when considering divorce in Littleton, Colorado.
How Can I Terminate My Marriage in Colorado?
If you have already decided to dissolve your marriage, you should consider your options. Three ways to end a marriage exist in the state of Colorado.
Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage in Colorado
A divorce or dissolution of marriage in Colorado is a permanent ending of a marriage. Once final, the law considers both parties to be fully separated. They file taxes separately and are eligible to remarry. The dissolution orders define any financial connections that may remain between them.
Colorado Marriage Annulment
In Colorado, this is a declaration that a marriage is invalid. In the eyes of the law, this means that the marriage never existed.
If someone wants to file a Declaration of Invalidity, the parties must be able to prove one or more of the following circumstances.
Lack of Consent
If one of the parties was not able to consent to the wedding due to mental issues, substance abuse, or other reasons, the injured party may file for an annulment within six months of learning of the inability to consent.
Inability to Consummate
If one member of the couple could not consummate the marriage sexually and the other partner was unaware of this incapacity, this is an “inability to consummate.” Annulment proceedings must begin within one year after learning of this inability.
When one party was underage at the time of the wedding and did not have a parent or guardian’s permission to wed, annulment proceedings must begin within two years of the wedding date. The underaged party or their parent or guardian must file.
Fraud or Misrepresentation
If one member of the couple entered into the wedding based upon fraudulent intent, a request for annulment must be entered within six months of the other party becoming aware of the fraudulent act.
Duress occurs when one (or both) members of a couple are forced to get married. Regardless of whether the coercion came from one partner or a third party, annulment proceedings must begin within six months of the duress becoming known.
A Jest or Dare
If either party came into the marriage as a joke, the injured party has six months to file for an annulment upon learning of the false motive. This rule applies to marriages that were a result of a dare.
If one member of the couple is still married to someone else, the couple discovers they are blood relatives, or the marriage was illegal from its conception for any reason, the marriage may be annulled.
Legal Separation in Colorado
A legal separation means that, although the couple divides their assets, property, sets up parenting plans, and lives separately, they are still married in the eyes of the law.
A decree of legal separation means that, though the couple lives apart, they can still share insurance or file taxes together if that is more advantageous.
One should not consider a legal separation as a halfway step to divorce or consider pursuing a separation because it seems easier than divorce. Couples who decide to be legally separated go through the same set of procedures as those getting a divorce.
Is Colorado a “No-Fault” State?
A no-fault divorce means that whoever is filing the papers carries no burden to prove their spouse did something wrong to justify the dissolution. There is no need for anyone to be “at fault.” A no-fault divorce requires one of the spouses to assert that the marriage is over.
Colorado’s “no-fault” status also means that you do not need your spouse’s consent to divorce them. Your divorce attorney can file your paperwork, and the divorce process will begin.
Another aspect of Colorado’s no-fault divorce is that the behavior of the spouses during the marriage is not considered by the court when determining financial matters such as spousal or child support. Likewise, the court will not consider behavior when determining parental rights and responsibilities, unless said behavior endangers the children.
Children and Divorce
When a divorce can affect children, everything becomes more complicated and prone to emotional difficulty. Children, in particular, have an incredibly difficult time during a divorce, particularly if it becomes hostile.
When determining child support, custody arrangements, parenting plans, and visitation schedules, Colorado courts will take the best interest of the child into account, ensuring that they are appropriately cared for and supported.
If it is possible for you and your spouse to agree on child support, custody, and a visitation schedule before coming to court, the court will consider your plan first.
Our experienced attorneys can compassionately and expertly help you determine what is best for you and your children.
How is Property Divided in a Colorado Divorce?
Colorado is also an “equitable division” state. This classification does not mean that property and assets will be divided equally. It means that anything acquired during the time of the marriage will be distributed fairly between both parties.
Is an Attorney Required to get Divorced in Colorado?
You do not necessarily need an attorney. However, it is something that you should take into consideration.
The divorce process can be complicated and confusing, especially at a time when emotions are running high. Even though a couple may have the best of intentions and intend a peaceful divorce, the couple will likely run into stressful situations that test their intentions.
When it comes to family law, consider contacting the divorce attorneys at Bahr, Kreidle, and Flicker. We have had over 30 years of experience with divorces and annulments in Littleton and are happy to assist you. Contact us to be advised of your rights and let us support you through what may be one of your most challenging experiences.