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Colorado Divorce Process

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Ending a relationship can be an emotional and challenging time for both parties. If you are considering a divorce, take time to understand Colorado's divorce laws, or “dissolution of marriage" laws, as well as the general process for getting a divorce in Colorado.

Colorado is a no-fault state. This means the courts do not need either party to have done something wrong to grant a divorce and they will not assign responsibility to you or your ex-spouse. To get a divorce, only one spouse needs to say the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” From that point, the divorce petition process will begin with the local courts.

Colorado Divorce Process Overview

The table below outlines the general process you can expect and the requirements you will need to fulfill to get a divorce in Colorado.

Statutes

Colorado Revised Statutes Title 14 Domestic Matters:

  • Section 14-10-105 – There must be a petition for a dissolution of a civil union or marriage. The other party must respond to the petition.
  • Section 14-10-106 – One spouse must say the marriage is broken and at least one of the spouses must have lived in Colorado for 91 days prior to the divorce proceeding. Even if you move after the petition starts, the Colorado courts will handle the process.
  • Section 14-10-107 – Both parties must be civil and continue temporary child custody agreements until the divorce is final.

Filling Out the Divorce Petition

 

The divorce petition and overall process will ask for some specific items that you must complete or answer, including:

  • Where you live now;
  • If you have lived in Colorado for the past 91 days;
  • The day and place where the wedding certificate was signed;
  • The day you decided to separate or ask for a divorce;
  • Any arrangements already in place for your children;
  • The specific outcome you want (i.e., divorce or legal separation);
  • Your Social Security number; and
  • Any restraining orders or protection orders filed against either party within the past two years (Section 14-10-1078).

Divorce Proceedings

The following steps are common during Colorado divorce processes:

  1. One spouse says the marriage is irretrievably broken;
  2. Your attorney creates the divorce petition;
  3. A court official hands your spouse the petition and a summons to appear in court, which is known as “serving” them;
  4. Your spouse has 35 days to respond to the petition;
  5. You must provide written acknowledgment that you understand the divorce petition;
  6. The judge will likely create temporary orders (Section 14-10-108) for custody, child support, property division, or other legal issues;
  7. You and your spouse either agree to the terms of the divorce or go to a court hearing;
  8. The divorce terms change until you agree to them, or a judge makes the final ruling;
  9. Both parties sign the document and the divorce is final.

If a spouse is missing, the courts will try to find and notify them to the best of their ability. The missing spouse has 35 days to respond or the divorce will proceed.

Where to File for Divorce

Colorado requires you to file at the District Court level. These 22 different courts are divided by city or county, so you need to find the closest one to where you live. An attorney can explain the process and help you file all paperwork correctly, or you can research how to start the process yourself.

You can expect the cost to be around $230 to file the petition (Section 13-32-101(1)(a)). You may have to pay other court, filing, or attorney fees.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Factors That May Affect the Divorce Process

If you have children, you can expect a longer divorce process that may involve extra steps such as interviewing your child (Section 14-10-126) or assigning an arbitrator (Section 14-10-1285) to serve as a neutral court official to help resolve disputes regarding your children.

Overall, the divorce process cannot take less than 91 days; but, often takes longer. Knowing your terms for a divorce (Section 14-10-112) and what you are willing to compromise on can help the process proceed smoothly.

Research the Law

Colorado Divorce Process: Related Resources

Start Your Divorce Petition With an Attorney’s Help

Having a Colorado attorney on your side can smooth the process and help you avoid common mistakes. In the long run, an attorney can save you time and money and gives you a chance to explain your custody or child support preferences. You do not need to go through the process alone – find a Colorado divorce lawyer to stand by your side.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.