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Divorce Q & A
Q: How long does it take to get divorce in Colorado?
A: In Colorado, a Court cannot grant your divorce until 90 days after you have filed for divorce. It will, however, usually take longer than 90 days.
Q: Are there forms available to obtain a divorce on your own?
A: Yes. Forms can be obtained from: “State Divorce Forms.” If you are contemplating trying to obtain your divorce on your own, please check out our blog for things to consider when doing your divorce on your own.
Q: What is “No Fault” divorce?
A: Each state has its own laws related to divorce. Colorado, like most states, is a “no fault” divorce state. This means that neither party is required to prove that the other is “at fault” in order to be granted the divorce.
Factors such as infidelity, cruelty, or abandonment are not necessary to receive a divorce. In most cases the testimony of one party that reconciliation efforts have failed and that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” is sufficient evidence for the granting of the dissolution of the marriage.
In short, it is neither necessary to have your spouse agree to the divorce nor to allege the specific difficulties which arose during the marriage in order to obtain a divorce.
Q: What is the Preliminary Injunction about?
A: The Preliminary Injunction prevents (“enjoins”) each spouse from doing certain things that might damage the person, property, or legal rights of the other spouse. The purpose of the Preliminary Injunction is to keep each spouse from making decisions or taking actions about money and property belonging to both spouses and preserves the legal interests of any minor children until written agreement is reached by the parties or the court has had the opportunity to make fair decisions about these matters. As much as possible, it keeps everything as it was during the marriage while the divorce case is before the court. The Preliminary Injunction is an official court order that is effective until the divorce case has ended.
The Preliminary Injunction does these things:
- Directs the spouses not to sell, give away, transfer, borrow against, or hide any marital property, unless needed for the necessities of life or done in the usual course of a business.
- Orders both spouses not to remove any children living in Colorado from the state without the written agreement of both spouses or the court’s permission.
- Requires that all types of insurance coverage for the spouses and any children remain effective and that no one be removed.
A spouse who disobeys the Preliminary Injunction may be arrested and prosecuted for the crime of interfering with judicial proceedings; that spouse may also be held in contempt of court (violation of a court order for which a party may be punished by a fine or jail).
Q: What is the difference between a divorce and a legal separation?
A: Basically, the procedures for a divorce and a legal separation are the same. The same actions are taken for both, and the cases are filed in the same way and go through the court system in the same way. In the end, for both divorce and legal separation, judgments will be entered that divide assets and debts. The judgment determines the financial obligations for each party, and will establish the placement and custody rights for children involved. A legal separation is different from a divorce in a few ways. First, if you get a legal separation then you cannot remarry anyone until you actually get a divorce. Also, if you want to get back together with your spouse, then you just dismiss the legal separation. If you are divorced and want a reconciliation, then you would have to get remarried. Getting remarried cancels the divorce agreement and settlement.
Q: Can a couple become legally married by living together as man and wife under Colorado law (common law marriage)?
A: Yes. Colorado law determines that you are “common law” married if you have lived together in the State of Colorado, had a proven intent to be married, and held yourselves out to others as husband and wife. There is no minimum time that you have to live together. However, even living together and having children together does not automatically mean you are common law married under Colorado law. The facts and circumstances of each case must be considered to determine whether a common law marriage exists.
Q: If I am common law married, do I need to get divorced?
A: Yes. Once you are considered married under Colorado law, you need to get formally divorced. There is no “common law” divorce in Colorado.
Q: Is alimony available in Colorado?
A: Colorado does allow awards of alimony (now more commonly referred to as spousal maintenance). A number of factors are considered to determine if spousal maintenance is appropriate, including length of the marriage, ability of the parties to work, the parties’ ages, the parties’ health and financial needs, among others. Sometimes spousal maintenance is substantial and permanent. Sometimes it is temporary or “rehabilitative” to permit a former spouse time and opportunity to obtain job skills.
Q: How is property divided?
A: When two people divorce, part of the divorce process is the division of property. Property that is acquired during the marriage such as houses, cars, income and debt are considered “marital property”. This type of property is usually divided at the discretion of the judge that is presiding over the divorce case. Property that is acquired prior to or after the marriage is classified as “separate property”. This type of property is usually not subject to division between the spouses.
Q: If I get divorced, will I still be eligible for health insurance through my ex-spouse?
A: If your spouse works for a company that employs 20 or more people, then you are eligible to apply for continued health insurance coverage in his employer’s plan under a Federal law known as “COBRA” (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). Under COBRA, you can continue the insurance for up to 36 months.
Your spouse’s employer is required to provide COBRA coverage for you, but only if you timely notify the health plan administrator within the limited time period. If you don’t give the administrator proper notice, then you will not be eligible for COBRA coverage.
Glen B. Goldman
Emily T. Roberts
Douglas A. Thomas