Divorce basics in Colorado: part one

When a marriage is irretrievably broken, one or both parties has the option to seek a divorce. While most couples aren't thinking about that possibility when they tie the knot, it is an option when a union breaks down.

This week we'll address some basic, nuts-and-bolts questions about the nature of divorce and similar legal concepts in Colorado. In a future post we'll talk a bit more about state law governing property division, alimony and other concerns for couples who are parting ways.

Is there a difference between divorce and dissolution of marriage?

In Colorado both terms are used interchangeably to refer to divorce. So if you see "Dissolution of Marriage" on any court papers don't be alarmed - it's just another way of saying divorce. Similarly, you may hear the term "maintenance" in divorce proceedings, which is just another way of saying alimony.

What is a legal separation?

It can be confusing to determine the differences between a legal separation and a divorce because they similarly arise from different circumstances. During a legal separation a couple is still technically married, but living separately. A person cannot remarry someone else during a legal separation as the marriage has not been dissolved.

Do both spouses have to agree to a divorce?

No. Under Colorado law the only standard that must be met to grant a divorce is one spouse must show that a marriage is "irretrievably broken." Usually, the fact that one spouse has filed for divorce is enough proof. In some rare cases, a couple may be asked to get counseling before a judge grants the divorce.

In a future post we'll talk some more about Colorado's divorce laws and how they may affect the end of your marriage.

Source: Colorado Legal Services, "Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce/Dissolution of Marriage"

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