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Colorado Divorce - General Law
No Fault Divorce
Colorado is a no-fault divorce state.
Colorado judges ignore marital misconduct and make judgments on divorce
matters without regard to who did what to whom. Many persons find it
frustrating that the judge will not hear the wrongs and insults they have
suffered at the hands of their spouses. Although some states still try
issues of fault, such as infidelity, cruelty, abuse, desertion, etc.,
Colorado does not. The legislature has chosen to abolish the fault
system in the matter of divorce and family law, believing that the process of
assessing blame only makes relations worse between the spouses. Divorce
is based on irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. That means that if
one spouse wants out of the marriage, he or she can obtain a divorce in
Colorado whether the other spouse agrees or not to the dissolution of the
marriage. Marital fault may back into the picture when it affects a
party's ability to parent a child, or there is a request for a restraining
order, but absent such matters, it will not be considered. The court
has limited time and many litigants, and the last thing the judge wants to
hear about is infidelity and other marital misconduct.
All marital property is subject to division in Colorado. Property is
marital, unless it is excluded under the law. Exclusions include
property acquired before the marriage, inheritances, gifts to one spouse
which were not joint gifts, and several other categories. Increases in value of a spouse's separate property is
considered to be marital. Property can be divided without regard to
legal title. Property division can be extremely complex, because
property acquired prior to a marriage or as a gift must be valued both at the
time of the marriage or gift and again at the time of the trial.
Consideration is also given to debts, so that it is the overall equities
which are divided, not just the asset value.
In the majority of cases, the parties end up with the personal property
and vehicles in their possession during the divorce. He gets his car,
and she gets her car. Encumbrances usually go with the vehicle.
Likewise, if a party keeps the family home or furniture subject to a mortgage
or other encumbrance, that party will have to make the payments. Even
when the other party is ordered to pay a debt for property received by the
other party, there is no absolute assurance that will happen. A party
may simply ignore the order or lack the ability to pay. In some cases bankruptcy
is filed, discharging the obligation.
Ordinarily the Colorado court will apply Colorado law to the property
division. In some cases, however, where property was acquired prior to
a move to Colorado, the law of a different state may be applied.
If a major item of property was acquired when living in a different state,
the attorney needs to know so that he or she can determine whether the law of
a different state should be argued. If Colorado law is more favorable
to the client, however, then the client would not want to apply the other
Property Division is supposed to be "equitable." The court
must consider a list of statutory factors in making the division. Often
the court will find that the factors offset each other. The result may
simply be an equal division. In other cases, the court may find one
factor or another sufficient to justify an unequal division. The case
law does not require a precisely equal mathematical calculation. It
requires that the division be objectively "fair and equitable."
Some divorcing couples will have a sense of what is fair and just to the
other, and they will find it easy to come to an agreement. It is
common, however, to find that unresolved emotional attitudes make it difficult
to reach an agreement. Such cases will take longer to process, and they
will be more difficult to resolve.