Colorado Divorce Attorney
Divorce Lawyers in Denver
Ending a marriage can be a difficult and emotional experience. Parties must come to an agreement on how to divide assets and property, who will receive spousal maintenance and more. If children are involved, additional complicated issues arise regarding the children, including which parent will receive custody of the children, who will pay child support, and other matters concerning their well-being.
If you are going through divorce, contact Feldmann Nagel Cantafio PLLC for a free consultation with a Colorado divorce lawyer.
Types of Divorce in Colorado
Although Colorado is both an equitable distribution state and a no-fault state when it comes to divorce, we strongly advise that you consult with an experienced Steamboat Springs divorce attorney before you begin divorce proceedings.
A Colorado divorce lawyer at Feldmann Nagel Cantafio PLLC will be able to thoroughly review your specific situation and needs, advise you of the legal options and resources available to you, and help you determine the best course of action to pursue.
- Collaborative Divorce – A collaborative divorce is perfect for those couples who are willing and able to collaborate, with each other and their attorneys, to determine the family needs and how to get through the divorce in a healthy and productive manner. Our attorneys will work with you closely to resolve all outstanding issues and ensure all agreements are finalized before divorce papers are filed with the court.
- Legal Separations – A legal separation allows a couple the time they may need to either resolve their marital issues or come to a final decision to legally dissolve their marriage. During this time, the couple can request to separate their financial responsibilities and marital property.
- Annulments – Filing for a marriage annulment is completely different than filing for a dissolution of marriage. In the state of Colorado, specific criteria must be met in order to annul a marriage. One of our Colorado divorce attorneys will be able to answer your annulment questions and help you determine if an annulment best suits your needs.
- Military Divorce – Service men and women have unique lifestyles and concerns. Although military divorces can be just as difficult and emotionally challenging as a civilian divorce, certain special circumstances must be taken into account when one spouse is a military member, especially if he or she is active duty or stationed overseas.
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Related Divorce Services
Most divorce cases involve other issues that require legal assistance. At Feldmann Nagel Cantafio PLLC, our Steamboat Springs divorce lawyers are prepared to handle any and all matters you may encounter during your divorce, including:
No Fault Divorce
The concept of the “no-fault divorce” was originated in California in 1970. “No-fault divorces” were originated because it did not seem to make sense to force people to stay in a marriage when they were not happy, and that requiring someone to prove legal grounds to dissolve the marriage was not serving any useful purpose.
Rather this extra step made divorces more expensive for the already aggrieved spouse. Moreover, there are defenses to a “fault divorce,” such as provocation, condonation, or collusion. Thus, if one spouse alleges a basis for a “fault divorce” that is unseemly such as abuse or adultery, the other spouse may argue there was a defense for the behavior causing that issue to become very expensive to litigate. Further, citing a specific reason for the divorce made already heightened emotions worse.
Historically, in order to obtain a divorce one had to prove the existence of legal grounds such as adultery, abuse, excessive use of alcohol or drugs, mental cruelty, or abandonment. In recent years, when people had to prove fault, courts often had to grant divorces on bases that were easier to prove, such as “mental cruelty.” In this situation, the spouse would testify that he or she was being subjected to mental stress as a result of the actions of the other spouse. Over time, the “no-fault divorce” law expanded to the majority of states making it much easier to obtain a divorce - simply because one was unhappy and the marriage was irretrievably broken.
However, in Colorado, which is a strict “no-fault divorce” state, Courts are very restrictive about hearing any evidence regarding any fault basis. In Colorado, the Court will only allows evidence that there was an extramarital affair, if the financial expenditures paid on for the affair were extreme and expended without the consent of the unknowing spouse, but the amount of those expenses have to be established such as hotel costs or expensive gifts. Further, where a spouse engaged in acts of domestic violence, the law has presumptions against joint decision-making and parenting time as the law deems domestic violence acts committed against a spouse to be harmful to children, whether the children are involved or not.
In Colorado, the concept of what testimony and evidence is relevant in a “no-fault divorce” can be confusing. The best course of action is to speak with an experienced Colorado divorce attorney.
Colorado Divorce Process
In Colorado, to commence a divorce case, one party files a Petition for Dissolution and serves the other party with the same. One can obtain service either by utilizing the local Sheriff’s office or a private process server.
There are four critical steps in the first phase of a divorce case:
- Filing & Response: First, once a party is served with a Petition, they have 21 days to file a Response to the Petition. The Response merely admits or denies the allegations in the Petition.
- Parenting Class: Second, if there are minor children at issue in the divorce case, each party is required to attend a Parenting Class. The Parenting Class is a four hour class and is a great source of information as it pertains to children issues during a divorce case.
- Initial Status Conference: Third, the Court will set an Initial Status Conference 4-8 weeks out, depending on the County. The Initial Status Conference is more procedural than substantive in nature. This is where you introduce the case to the Court and schedule out the deadlines in the case. In some counties, temporary orders may be addressed at the conference.
- Financial Disclosure: The fourth step in the first phase of a divorce case, and the most critical, is 16.2 Financial Disclosures. Each side is required to submit a Sworn Financial Statement setting forth their income and expenses as well as their assets and liabilities. Further, each side is required to produce to the other side the complete list of 16.2 Financial Disclosures which includes, but is not limited to, three years of tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, retirement account statements, and real estate documents.
Once these initial steps are complete, the case moves into the settlement phase, which will include Mediation (which is typically ordered by the Court in most counties). If you are unable to settle one or more of the pertinent issues, ultimately, you will have a trial in front of the Judge on said issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What Is the Waiting Period for Divorce in Colorado?
A: No two divorce cases are the same, but the minimum "waiting period" for a divorce is 90 days from the time the divorce petition is filed to the day it is finalized by the court. This means that some divorces can be finalized in as little as 91 days; however, most divorces take more time due to litigation, mediation, and otherwise coming to an agreement about the various aspects of a divorce.
Q: Is Colorado a No-Fault State for Divorce?
A: Yes, Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you don't need any grounds for your divorce aside from stating that your marriage is "irretrievably broken."
Q: How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Colorado?
A: Filing a divorce petition in Colorado costs $195; however, since every divorce case involves unique factors, there is no predictable total cost for divorce.
According to survey results compiled by Martindale-Nolo Research, here is a breakdown of the average cost of various types of divorce in Colorado:
- Average Cost of Divorce in CO: $14,500
- Average Range: $4,500 – $32,000
- Average with Kids: $21,700
- Average for High-Net Worth Divorce: $37,000
Q: What Is the Difference Between Legal Separation & Divorce?
A: While both legal separation and divorce involve separating property and creating child custody/support orders, the main difference is that a legal separation does not officially terminate the marriage. Both parties will still remain legally married. A legal separation is not required for a divorce.
Q: Can I File for Divorce in Colorado If My Spouse Lives in Another State?
A: If either you or your spouse lived in the state of Colorado in the last 90 days before filing for divorce, you meet the residency requirements to file for divorce in Colorado.
The Differences between Divorce and Legal Separation in Colorado
There are a few differences between divorce and legal separation in Colorado. If you are thinking about pursuing a legal separation rather than a divorce (dissolution of marriage), it is important to understand that you will still need to perform all the requirements of a dissolution of marriage. This includes:
- Producing your financial disclosures
- Attending hearings
- Preparing a parenting plan
- Either paying or receiving child support or spousal maintenance
Furthermore, at the end of the legal separation proceeding, you will still have to settle the case or attend a permanent orders hearing, in which the judge will divide the marital assets and liabilities, make a finding as to support, determine parenting time and decision-making, and determine the Colorado divorce attorney’s fees and costs.
At the end of the proceedings, you will be issued a Decree of Legal Separation. In order to be divorced, you will then have to convert the Decree of Legal Separation into a Decree of Dissolution after 182 days have elapsed. You must remain legally separated for those six months after the decree was issued.
The health insurance policies that you had prior to the decree will remain in effect, unless otherwise agreed. So many individuals make the choice to be legally separated to maintain the health insurance policy, especially if that policy is paid by the other spouse’s employer. This also helps the spouse who is paying maintenance, as it may reduce or eliminate the need for maintenance. Also, if you are legally separated, you may continue to jointly file your taxes or file married but separate, which can increase the refund or reduce the tax liability in some circumstances.
Finally, if you are legally separated rather than divorced, the estate and life insurance policies may remain as they were prior to the decree, especially if you or your spouse do not have an estate plan or have failed to designate beneficiaries. In this scenario, those items will be distributed through intestate succession at death. If you are legally separated and not divorced, the person who claims the right to your assets through intestate succession is most often your spouse (adult children may take a percentage, depending on the state law at the time of death).
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Our legal team at Feldmann Nagel Cantafio PLLC is prepared to help you learn more about filing for divorce, your options, and how we can be of assistance. Our Colorado divorce lawyers are committed to providing personal attention and step-by-step guidance through clients' legal journeys. Contact us today to begin yours!
Going through divorce? Contact Feldmann Nagel Cantafio PLLC for a free consultation with a Colorado divorce attorney.