This section has basic information about divorce in Colorado. You will find more information about divorce, including the risks of taking your children out of state while a divorce is pending, on our general Divorce page. To watch brief videos about divorce in Spanish with English sub-titles, go to our Videos page. Lastly, learn more about the court process on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself page.
What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Colorado?
To file for divorce in Colorado, you or your spouse must have been a resident of Colorado for at least 91 days immediately before the filing for the divorce.1
1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-106 (1)(a)(I)
What are the grounds for divorce in Colorado?
Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for a divorce. The judge can grant you a divorce or legal separation in Colorado if the judge finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken.1 This means that the marriage is no longer working and cannot be fixed.
Note: A divorce decree can only be entered after 91 days have passed from one of the following:
- the day your spouse was legally notified of the divorce proceedings;
- the day s/he joined as a co-petitioner in the divorce petition; or
- the day s/he appeared in the case in any other manner.2
1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-106 (1)(a)(II)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-106 (1)(a)(III)
Can I get alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is financial support paid by, or to, your spouse and can be awarded during a divorce, legal separation, or annulment (known as a “declaration of invalidity” proceeding).1
If either spouse files for maintenance, the judge will consider the following factors when deciding whether or not to order maintenance:
- the amount of your income and your spouse’s income;
- the division of the marital property;
- the financial resources of each spouse, including but not limited to the actual or possible income from separate and marital property;
- reasonable financial needs established during the marriage; and
- the tax effects (implications) of paying or getting maintenance.1
If the judge decides to award maintenance, s/he will determine the amount and length (term) of the maintenance that is fair and reasonable (equitable) to both spouses after considering the guidelines put forth in the law and the following factors:
- financial resources of each spouse, including the actual or possible income from separate and marital property;
- the financial resources of the spouse paying maintenance, including the actual or potential income and his/her ability to meet his/her own needs;
- the lifestyle established during the marriage;
- the distribution of marital property;
- both spouses’ income and employability (including additional training or education if necessary) and any reduction in employment due to:
- the needs of minor children of the marriage; or
- the circumstances of the parties;
- whether one party has historically earned a higher or lower income and the duration and consistency of income from overtime or secondary employment;
- the length of the marriage;
- the amount of temporary maintenance and the number of months that temporary maintenance was paid;
- the age and health of the parties, including consideration of significant health care needs;
- significant economic or noneconomic contributions to the marriage or to the economic, educational, or occupational advancement of one of the spouses;
- the tax effects (implications) of paying or getting maintenance and any adjustment that may be needed to the amount of maintenance in order to make the tax burden more fair between the parties;
- whether the circumstances of the parties at the time of that the judge is issuing a permanent order calls for the award of a minimal (nominal) amount of maintenance in order to preserve that spouse’s claim of maintenance in the future; and
- any other factor that the judge believes is relevant.2
1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-114(3)(a)(I)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-114(3)(a)(II), (3)(c)
What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?
While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:
First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state in which you wish to file.
Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse. (To learn more about filing a summons, preparing a petition, and service of process, go to the Starting the Court Case page in our Preparing for Court - By Yourself section.)
Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, he will then have the opportunity to file papers telling his side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” In this case, you will have to attend a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, he should sign the papers and send them back to you and/or the court. This is called an “uncontested divorce.” If a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. You should speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers the divorce papers before you can continue with the divorce.
Fifth, if there is property that you need divided, or if you need financial support from your spouse, you will have to work that out in an out-of-court settlement, or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.
You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?
Where can I find additional information about divorce?
The Colorado Judiciary has a lot of material on the divorce process, including:
- a pamphlet on divorce and related family law matters that describes residency requirements;
- a flowchart to help you better understand the divorce process if there are no children;
- a flowchart to help you better understand the divorce process if there are children;
- both a general explanation of the divorce processand specific instructions regarding the process if there are no children;
- both a general explanation of the divorce process and specific instructions regarding the process if there are children;
- the forms you may need if you wish to file for divorce if there are no children;
- the forms you may need if you wish to file for divorce if there are children;
- instructions and forms to convert a legal separation to divorce; and
- instructions and forms to file for spousal support (called “maintenance” in Colorado).
Colorado Legal Services has answers to frequently asked divorce questions, including information on grounds for divorce in Colorado, which are posted on Lawhelp.org.
WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of their sites. These links are informational resources only.