Divorce: FAQ

What is a Divorce?

A Divorce, or dissolution of marriage, is a decree which dissolves a marriage, eliminating the legal marital relationship between the husband and the wife, or ‘co-petitioners.’

Can I get a divorce in Colorado?

Generally speaking, if you are a resident of Colorado, you can get a divorce in Colorado. The guidelines vary, but, even if your spouse lives out of state, it is likely that if you are a Colorado resident, you can get divorced in Colorado.

What decisions can the court make in regards to our children?

The court will act in the best interests of the children, whenever they are involved. If you can agree on arrangements with your spouse as to who makes the decisions and about what, who gets to see the children and when and who will cover what expenses, the court will usually find that it is in the best interests of the child and accept your agreement, entering it as a court order. If you cannot agree, the court will have to make a determination after hearing all of the evidence.

How quickly can I get divorced in Colorado?

There is a 90 day period between filing the petition and issuing the dissolution decree. The fastest you can get divorced in Colorado is 90 days.

My spouse cheated on me, can I get a divorce?

In Colorado, unfaithfulness alone is not a reason to grant a divorce. The court must be satisfied that the marriage is irretrievably broken, that is, there is no reasonable hope of reconciliation in the future.

Can I change my name back to my ‘maiden’ name?

Yes. You will need to demonstrate that you are not changing you name to avoid creditors. You may need to contact your creditors to notify them of the name change.

What is child support?

If there are children of the marriage, the court may require one spouse to pay the other spouse a certain sum of money in order to help support the children. The goal is to ensure that the children enjoy the same quality of life after the divorce as they did before; this would often not be possible without some type of support arrangement.

Do I need a lawyer to get divorced? What if we agree upon all of the terms?

Strictly speaking, no. A lawyer will help to protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome according to your goals and interests. However, there is no requirement that you get an attorney. Many couples agree on the terms themselves and file the paperwork. In this case, we recommend at least having a lawyer look over the paperwork for you so that he or she can advise you of your rights and obligations under the proposed agreement. Remember, once the agreement is accepted by the court, it becomes a court order which you and your spouse are required to follow. If there are terms that you cannot agree upon, it is highly recommended to get a lawyer to help fight for a favorable outcome. Getting it done right in the first place reduces long terms costs in terms of money, time and stress, as it reduces the likelihood of issues arising later.

My spouse has all of the money, I can’t afford an attorney, how can I hire one?

You can ask your spouse to pay. If he or she has control over all of the money and refuses to pay, it is possible to ask the court to order him or her to pay for a lawyer to represent you in the proceedings. If your spouse cannot afford his or her own attorney, it may be less likely that the court would order him or her to pay for your attorney.

Why do I need to disclose so much financial information just to get divorced?

Colorado rules require these disclosures. It is intended to simplify the process by collecting information, which will inevitably be needed, in a reasonably timely manner. The court needs to consider this information when making certain determinations in regards to the final orders.

Can orders related to a divorce ever be changed?

A court is much more likely to grant a motion to change an order if it relates to children of the marriage and there has been a change in circumstance. You can, of course, also reverse the effect of the divorce decree itself by re-marrying.

What happens to our debts?

Your debts are split up by the order. Normally if you agree as to how they should be split, the court will accept your agreement as part of the order. As divorces become more complex, even if  you both agree in theory on how they should be split, it is still a good idea to consult an attorney on your behalf on how the agreement affects your interests.

My spouse is incurring new debts, what should I do?

It depends, it is a good idea to try to get separate accounts and to re-finance things like cars under your separate names if you can. Regardless of what can eventually be done it is a good idea to keep very detailed records of what debt was incurred and who received the benefit of the proceeds from the debt. Although there is a statutory injunction, it does not require that lines of credit or other joint accounts be canceled.

What is a statutory injunction and how does it affect my divorce case?

In divorce cases, upon the service of the other spouse, or upon waiver, an automatic temporary injunction is in place. This injunction prevents either spouse for doing the following:

  1. Removing the children from Colorado without permission from the other spouse or the family law court. Generally, ordinary trips out of state, like vacations, are granted permission by either the other spouse or by the court.
  2. Disturbing or harassing the other spouse.
  3. Hiding, destroying, transferring or disposing of marital property, except in the ordinary course of business.
  4. Canceling or modifying any insurance without your spouse’s written consent or the court’s permission, or allowing the policy to lapse on account of non-payment.

Given that the injunction is effective upon service, can I make a large withdraw just before the filing?

This normally leads to problems. Unless it is part of a previous plan unrelated to the divorce or is occurring in the normal course of business, it is probably not a good idea. Property transfer implication can be very complex and should you have the need to do so, you should contact a lawyer to make sure that it is correctly and legally effectuated.

Once we are divorced, will the IRS separate our tax debts, especially if we owe back taxes?

If you filed your tax return jointly, the IRS will not automatically separate the tax debts. The court may order one spouse or the other to take on most of the tax debt but the IRS is typically not bound by this agreement and maintains the ability to enforce the debs against you or your former spouse as parties joint and severally liable for the debt.

The IRS owes us a refund, who gets that?

The court will order how the refund is split. Again, if you and your spouse can agree upon this, the court will normally accept your proposal provided that it does not find it to be unconscionable toward either spouse.