The Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) or Legal Separation process will vary depending on whether or not you have children. Once the Respondent (non-filing party) has been served a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Children, s/he should seek legal advice to learn what his/her responsibilities and rights are. If the responding party does nothing, the court may enter orders for both parties without the Respondent’s involvement.
Once the Divorce papers are signed and served, there is an “Automatic Temporary Injunction” that takes effect. This is a Court Order intended to prevent either spouse from transferring, concealing, or encumbering property that may or may not be considered marital; from discontinuing or altering insurance coverage; from taking the children out of the state or country without written permission; or from harassing the other party or the children.
Once the Divorce is filed, the parties are required to wait 91 days before the Divorce may be finalized. A Judge cannot enter a decree dissolving the marriage until after the 91-day period mentioned above. There is not a set amount of time to know precisely how long a Divorce will take. Usually, the more spouses work together to resolve their issues, the less amount of time it takes. The more spouses argue, the longer and more expensive the Divorce will be. The length of time your Divorce may take before you have a resolution also depends heavily upon the County in which your family resides.
There are many other variables and factors, but an initial consultation with competent counsel can help to clarify and provide more detail on the process as it affects you and your family.
To secure a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation in Colorado, one of the spouses must have been domiciled in state for at least 91 days before the Petition was filed. If children are involved they must have been residents of the state for at least 182 consecutive days prior to the filing date (or since birth, if under six months of age).
The Dissolution of Marriage may be filed in the county in which the Petitioner (spouse who initiates the filing procedure) or Respondent (spouse who does not file the initial divorce papers) resides. Colorado is a “No-Fault” divorce state. That means that you do not need to have a specific reason to get divorced, such as infidelity or alcoholism. Rather, all that is required is that the marriage is found to be “irretrievably broken.”
As mentioned, while some states would still look for specific “grounds” for a divorce, such as adultery, Colorado is a “No-Fault” divorce state.
This means that the only issue needed to be proven to secure a divorce in Colorado is proof that the marriage is broken and cannot be repaired. While that might sound expansive, what it means in practice is that only one spouse must maintain that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and testify to that fact before the Judge. The court is generally not interested in getting into the private details of why and how a marriage fell apart. However, it may want to hear details if there is a claim of economic fault, or a claim that actions on the part of a spouse affect the best interests of the children.
Evidence regarding problematic acts of the parties that do not substantially affect the economics of the family or the best interests of the children are likely to be excluded by the court. It is important to seek the advice of a competent attorney to advise you on whether any particular issue of fault is relevant or, on the other hand, if raised might risk alienating the Judge.
Economic fault may be considered by the court in the property distribution. If a spouse is wasting marital funds, this is not “grounds” for a divorce, but rather goes to the division of the assets and debts in the divorce.
Examples of economic fault might be extravagant spending on the new love interest, secret gambling, or fraudulent conveyance to a third party.
Examples of non-economic fault, which the Court will generally not consider, might be adultery, deviant sexual conduct, extreme cruelty, inhumane treatment, habitual drunkenness, mental illness, imprisonment, sexual desertion, drug addiction, or nonsupport.