Grounds for a Divorce in Colorado

Grounds for a Divorce in Colorado

Grounds for divorce are legal justifications party lists when petitioning a court to grant a decree of dissolution of marriage. Grounds may be either fault-based or no-fault, depending on where you are filing the case and the laws of that particular state. 

Fault-based grounds require a party to demonstrate through sufficient evidence that the other party committed a specific act, such as desertion, cruelty, or adultery. No-fault divorces are more common, and a party does not have to prove through evidence that the other party was at fault.

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Granting Decree of Dissolution of Marriage in Colorado

Colorado is a no-fault state, and you do not need spousal consent to obtain a divorce. The specific reasons you are petitioning the court for a divorce are not considered when the court grants a decree of dissolution of marriage. Family courts in Colorado can grant a decree of dissolution of marriage upon a showing of the following:

  • One party has lived in the state of Colorado for 90 days prior to the beginning of the divorce proceedings.
  • The marriage is irretrievably broken.
  • The 90 days have accumulated since a court obtained jurisdiction over the other party by process or by the other party entering a notice of appearance.

Having an experienced Aurora divorce attorney on your side can help you deal with the complexities of family law.

What Does Irretrievably Broken Mean?

In Colorado, you must state that your marriage is irretrievably broken to obtain a divorce. This can mean that:

  • You believe there is no chance for you and your spouse to reconcile
  • No amount of time, intervention, therapy, or other assistance will repair the marriage

If one spouse challenges that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court will need to consider factors to decide whether to proceed with the divorce or not. If the case proceeds, fault will not play a role in any divorce matters, including child-related or financial issues, unless there are concerns over a child’s safety and well-being due to past abuse or domestic violence.

Starting the Process

To begin a divorce proceeding in Colorado, a party must file a petition for dissolution of marriage either singly or jointly with a spouse. A non-filing spouse has 21 days after being served with the petition for dissolution of marriage to file a response.

If 91 days pass since the summons was served, then the court has the authority to enter a decree for dissolution of marriage. The decree ends the legal relationship between the parties. A party can contest the decree, and the case may then enter mediation. If the parties cannot resolve their dispute, then a trial may ensue.

No-Fault Divorce

In 1972, Colorado abandoned the traditional grounds for divorce and adopted a no-fault approach. At this point, the only method for obtaining a divorce became the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In other words, if either spouse wants a divorce, he or she can obtain one – without having to prove any sort of wrongdoing on the part of the other. If either of you believes your marriage is irretrievably broken, that is good enough for Colorado divorce courts.

The Terms of Your Divorce

Although every divorce is unique, they are all required to address the same terms (as applicable).

Child Custody Arrangements

Child custody in Colorado is called parental responsibilities and parenting time. Parental responsibilities relate to what you may think of as legal custody, and it determines who makes the primary parenting decisions in your children’s lives. Such decisions fall into categories such as the following:

  1. Your children’s schooling
  2. Your children’s healthcare needs
  3. Your children’s religious upbringing
  4. Your children’s extracurricular activities
  5. Your children’s primary residence

Parenting time, on the other hand, determines the schedule whereby you and your children’s other parent divide your time with your children (which means it correlates with physical custody). The court bases every decision related to children on their best interests, which means that the wrongdoing of either parent will not play a role – unless that wrongdoing somehow negatively affected the welfare of the children in question (such as domestic violence or child abuse).

Child Support

Child support is calculated according to careful state guidelines, but the ex who is the higher earner generally takes on the child support obligation. It is very unlikely that a spouse’s wrongdoing would ever play a role in the calculation of child support.

The Division of Marital Property

The division of marital property in Colorado is done equitably, which means fairly – when you take the relevant circumstances into consideration. Often, Colorado courts divide marital assets equally between both spouses upon divorce, but this isn’t always the case. Colorado courts consider a wide range of variables when dividing marital assets, but the only one that has to do with spousal wrongdoing is the spending down of marital assets prior to divorce (thus diminishing the value of the overall property). Spending down assets can occur in any of the following ways:

  • Giving away or gifting assets
  • Going on spending sprees
  • Pouring assets into an affair, lavish vacations, extravagant purchases, or all three
  • Fraudulently disposing of assets
  • Taking on false debt from family members that will never be paid back (in an attempt to offset assets)
  • Hiding assets

This list could go on. If one spouse engages in this kind of wrongdoing, it can have a direct effect on how the couple’s marital assets are divided.


Alimony only comes up in Colorado divorces when one ex is left without the means to support himself or herself financially, while the other has the ability to help. Wrongdoing plays no part in this calculation.

Speak with an Aurora Divorce Attorney Today

An Aurora divorce attorney can help you protect both your financial assets and your legal rights. Making the decision to file for divorce or respond to a petition for dissolution of marriage can be emotionally overwhelming. Contact CNL Law Firm, PLLC today at (720) 370-2171 or online to schedule a free consultation.

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