Colorado Divorce Laws and Guidelines

Colorado state has its own unique set of divorce laws, which can be complex and nuanced. Understanding these laws is crucial for anyone going through a divorce in CO.

If you are getting into a divorce in Colorado, it is beneficial to be knowledgeable about the divorce laws. Whether you decide to hire an CO family attorney or handle the divorce yourself, you will need to make important decisions and should be aware of what to anticipate.

The courts in CO will consider various factors in the divorce settlement, including property division, spousal support, and child custody and support. Colorado is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally.

In this article, we will take a comprehensive dive into everything you need to know about Colorado divorce laws and guidelines, so you make your best decision while you move along.

Types of Divorce in CO

In Colorado, there are two types of divorce options available:

  1. Contested Divorce: This type of divorce occurs when the parties cannot agree on the terms of their divorce, including issues such as property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. In a contested divorce, the parties must go through the court system, and a judge will ultimately make the final decisions on these issues.
  2. Uncontested Divorce: This type of divorce occurs when the parties are able to reach an agreement on all issues related to their divorce, including property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. In an uncontested divorce, the parties may be able to file for divorce without going through the court system, and a judge will simply review their agreement to ensure that it is fair and equitable before granting the divorce.

Divorce rate in Colorado

The divorce rate in Colorado has fluctuated over the years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, the divorce rate in Colorado was 3.4 per 1,000 people. This is slightly lower than the national average of 3.7 per 1,000 people.

The divorce rate in Colorado has been on a downward trend since the 1980s, with a slight increase in the early 2000s before continuing on a downward trend. It’s worth noting that while the divorce rate has decreased, the number of divorces in Colorado has remained relatively stable due to the state’s growing population. Overall, divorce is a common occurrence in Colorado, but it has become less frequent in recent years.

How to File for Divorce in CO

Filing for divorce in Colorado State can be a complicated process, involving various legal requirements and procedures. In general, the process involves filing the necessary paperwork with the CO family court, serving the other spouse with the divorce papers, and attending court hearings as required. The specific steps involved can vary depending on the type of divorce, whether it is contested or uncontested, and other factors.

Divorce Process in Colorado

Here are the general steps to file for divorce in Colorado state:

  1. Determine if you meet the residency requirements. To file for divorce in Colorado, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 91 days before filing.
  2. Decide if you will file for a contested or uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse agree on all the terms of the divorce, you can file for an uncontested divorce. If you cannot agree on some or all of the terms, you will need to file for a contested divorce.
  3. Obtain and complete the necessary divorce forms. You can obtain these forms from the Colorado state court website or from your local court clerk’s office.
  4. File the completed divorce forms with the court clerk’s office in the county where you or your spouse resides. You will need to pay a filing fee at this time.
  5. Serve your spouse with a copy of the divorce papers. If you filed for a contested divorce, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the papers, usually through a process server or certified mail.
  6. Wait for your spouse’s response. If you filed for a contested divorce, your spouse will have 21 days to respond to the divorce papers.
  7. Attend any necessary court hearings. If you filed for a contested divorce and cannot reach an agreement, you may need to attend court hearings to resolve any outstanding issues.
  8. Receive the final divorce decree. Once all issues are resolved and the divorce is granted, the court will issue a final divorce decree.

Online Divorce in Colorado

In Colorado state, an online divorce is a viable option for couples seeking an uncontested divorce. You can read our comprehensive guide about online divorce here.

Cost of Divorce in Colorado

In Colorado state, the cost of divorce can vary depending on several factors, such as the complexity of the case and whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce. Generally, the cost of divorce in Colorado can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Some mandatory fees include the court filing fee, which is around $230, and the service fee to serve the divorce papers to your spouse, which can range from $30 to $100 depending on the method used.

Divorce Papers and Forms CO

Colorado requires various forms and papers to be filed in order to initiate and complete a divorce. These papers and forms can vary depending on the circumstances of the divorce, such as whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, whether children are involved, and the assets and debts of the couple.

Some of the most common forms required in an Colorado State divorce include a Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint, a Verified Complaint, Affidavit of Service, and a Judgment of Divorce.

Grounds for Divorce in CO

There are various grounds for divorce that can be used to legally end a marriage in CO. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, which means that couples can file for divorce without proving that one spouse was at fault. The only requirement is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. However, there are other grounds for divorce that can be used, including:

  1. Adultery
  2. Abandonment
  3. Substance abuse
  4. Physical or mental cruelty
  5. Imprisonment
  6. Incompatibility

Requirement and Waiting Period

In Colorado state, there is a waiting period and certain requirements that must be met before a divorce can be granted.

First, at least one spouse must have lived in Colorado for at least 91 days before filing for divorce.

Second, Colorado has a mandatory waiting period of 91 days after filing before the divorce can be finalized.

During this waiting period, the spouses can work out any issues related to the divorce, such as property division, spousal support, and child custody arrangements. If the divorce is uncontested and both parties agree on all issues, the divorce may be finalized after the waiting period ends.

However, if the divorce is contested and the parties cannot reach an agreement, a court hearing may be necessary to resolve the outstanding issues.

How a CO Judge Will Divide Marital Property

Marital property division in CO is decided by the court based on what is considered fair and equitable under the circumstances of the case. Colorado is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court will divide marital property fairly but not necessarily equally between spouses.

The court will consider several factors when deciding how to divide marital property, including:

  1. The length of the marriage
  2. The economic circumstances of each spouse
  3. Each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition of the marital property, including both monetary and non-monetary contributions
  4. The value of the marital property
  5. Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements between the parties

The court may also consider other factors that are deemed relevant and just in the case. The court will typically classify property as either marital or separate property. Marital property is generally any property acquired during the marriage, while separate property is property acquired before the marriage or as a gift or inheritance.

Basics of Colorado Divorce

While we have discussed major points about CO divorce, there are still some other basics that you need to know when it comes to divorce in Colorado. Here are some of them:

Child Custody in Colorado

In Colorado state, child custody after a divorce is decided based on what is in the best interests of the child. Colorado law recognizes two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody.

Physical custody refers to where the child will live and who will be responsible for their day-to-day care. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions on behalf of the child, such as medical, educational, and religious decisions.

The court will consider several factors when making a child custody determination, including:

  1. The child’s relationship with each parent
  2. Each parent’s ability to care for the child
  3. Each parent’s willingness to encourage a relationship with the other parent
  4. The child’s preference, if they are of sufficient age and maturity to express a preference
  5. Any history of domestic violence or abuse

In some cases, the court may also consider the child’s relationship with siblings or other family members when making a custody determination.

Divorce in CO Without Spouse Signature

In CO, if one spouse wants a divorce and the other spouse does not want to sign the divorce papers, the process can still move forward. The spouse seeking the divorce can file a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Verified Complaint with the court, which the other spouse will be served with.

If the other spouse fails to respond to the court within a certain period of time, the CO court may enter a default judgment in favor of the spouse seeking the divorce. However, if the other spouse contests the divorce, the court may require a trial to determine the grounds for divorce and any related issues such as property division and child custody.

CO Child Support Guidelines

In Colorado, child support guidelines are based on the income of the parents and the number of children involved. The court uses a formula to determine the amount of child support to be paid. Child support is typically paid until the child turns 19 years old or graduates from high school, whichever comes first. However, child support may be extended in certain circumstances, such as if the child has a disability or is still in high school at age 19.

Divorce Records in CO

Divorce records in Colorado are available to the public, and they can be obtained from the county where the divorce was granted. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment maintains divorce records for the state from 1900 to the present day.

To access divorce records, you will need to submit a request to the county court or the state vital records office. There may be a fee for this service, which varies by county and can range from $10 to $30.

How to Hire a Divorce Attorney in CO

Hiring a divorce lawyer in Colorado can be a crucial decision for individuals going through a divorce. A divorce lawyer can provide legal advice and representation throughout the divorce process, ensuring that the individual’s rights and interests are protected.

When hiring a divorce lawyer in CO, you need to consider their experience, qualifications, and reputation. It is recommended to choose a lawyer who specializes in family law and has experience handling divorce cases similar to your own.

The cost of hiring a divorce lawyer in Colorado can vary depending on the lawyer’s experience and the complexity of the case. Some lawyers charge a flat fee for their services, while others charge an hourly rate. It is important to discuss the lawyer’s fees and payment options upfront to avoid any surprises later on.


Divorce in CO; Who Gets What?

In Colorado, the property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally between spouses during a divorce based on the principle of equitable distribution. Marital property acquired during the marriage is subject to division, while some assets such as those acquired before the marriage or through inheritance or gifts may be exempt. The court will make a determination if the parties cannot agree on the division of property.

What is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in CO?

In a divorce in Colorado, a wife is entitled to a fair distribution of marital property acquired during the marriage and may also receive spousal support if she demonstrates financial need and if the court determines the other spouse has the ability to pay.

Divorce in CO with Child; How does it Work?

In a Colorado divorce with a child, the court considers the best interests of the child when making decisions about custody and support. Joint or sole custody may be awarded, and child support is determined based on a formula that considers each parent’s income and the child’s needs. A divorce lawyer can provide guidance and help ensure a fair outcome for the child.

How Long does it take to get a Divorce in CO?

The time it takes to get a divorce in Colorado varies depending on whether it is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce can be finalized in several months, while a contested divorce can take years. There is a mandatory waiting period of at least six months. It’s important to work with a divorce lawyer to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.


Colorado divorce laws and guidelines are intricate and have a wide range of matters to be addressed. It is vital to have a good understanding of these laws in order to make informed decisions and ensure a fair outcome. By understanding these CO divorce laws, individuals can better prepare themselves for the process and take the necessary steps to protect their rights and interests.

Colorado Resource

- Colorado Child Adoption Guidelines
- Colorado Childcare Guidelines
- Colorado Child Custody and Visitation Guidelines
- Colorado Child Support Guidelines
- Colorado Divorce Guidelines
- Colorado Marital Property Guidelines
- Colorado Spousal Support Guidelines
- How to Check Colorado Child Support Payment History

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.

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