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Divorce 101

For most people, divorce is an emotionally devastating experience. Hurt feelings and uncertainty about the future make it difficult to think objectively about the legal aspects of divorce. Nevertheless, divorce requires couples to make important decisions about division of their property and debts, alimony, child custody, child support, and visitation. This is why it vital to seek the advice of an experienced Colorado divorce attorney. In addition to providing an objective perspective, a skilled Colorado divorce attorney can explain divorce options to you and represent your best interests in divorce proceedings.

Basic things you should know about divorce in Colorado include:

Divorce Options
There are a few options in Colorado for couples wishing to formally separate. These options are:
Dissolution of Marriage - The legal term for divorce in Colorado is “a decree of dissolution of marriage.” A divorce or dissolution formally ends a marriage with a legally binding agreement regarding distribution of assets, debts, and other issues.
Annulment - An annulment ends a marriage by declaring it never existed. Couples often seek annulments for religious reasons. A spouse must prove certain grounds in order to get an annulment. This can be difficult, so annulments are less common than divorce.
Legal Separation – A legal separation is similar to a divorce with a legally binding agreement; however, it does not legally end the marriage. Legal separation allows individuals to lead separate lives while remaining married for religious, moral, or other reasons. Legally separated couples may not remarry.

Grounds for Divorce
Colorado is a “no fault” divorce state, which means it is not necessary to prove that either spouse is at fault for the divorce. An irretrievably broken marriage is a valid reason for divorce in Colorado.

Resolution of Divorce Issues
Certain issues must be resolved before a divorce can be granted. These basic issues include alimony (spousal support), property division, and debt distribution. If children are involved, both spouses must also agree upon child support, custody, and visitation issues.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
If both spouses agree on the terms of their divorce, including how to divide their assets and issues related to their children, the divorce is uncontested. A contested divorce results when spouses do not agree to the divorce terms. In this case, the spouses may go to trial to have a family court judge resolve the issues. Contested divorces tend to be more expensive and lengthier than uncontested divorces.

Divorce Court Alternatives
Couples may seek divorce court alternative methods to resolve their issues. These alternatives include:
Arbitration – Instead of going to trial with before a judge, spouses and their attorneys meet with an arbitrator. The arbitrator then makes the final decision regarding the divorce terms.
Mediation – Divorcing couples work with a mediator to reach an agreement on contested divorce issues.
Collaborative Divorce – This is a newer process in which couples and their attorneys work together to negotiate and compromise on contested divorce issues. If this process fails and the divorce goes to trial, the spouses must hire new attorneys to represent them in court.

Residency Issues
Before filing for divorce in Colorado, you must reside in Colorado for at least 90 days prior to filing. Couples can file for divorce as long as one spouse lives in Colorado and the non-resident spouse submits to Colorado jurisdiction.

Divorce issues can be confusing and it is critical to understand Colorado state divorce laws. A qualified Colorado divorce attorney can guide you through the legal maze of divorce so you can get your life back on track.

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