Same-sex marriages became legally recognized in Colorado on October 7, 2014, by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Kitchen v. Herbert. This decision also led to the legalization of any gay divorce in Colorado. One year later, in June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriages legal throughout the country.
Same-sex divorce in Colorado falls under the same laws established for heterosexual couples and regulated by Colorado Family Law. Technically, divorce laws in Colorado are the same for same-sex unions and different-sex marriages, although some situations can be unique.
Same-sex divorce online
Filing for divorce without a lawyer is a standard solution for many couples with an uncontested divorce and those who know how to file a same-sex divorce in Colorado independently. The only thing that such spouses need is to prepare same-sex divorce papers in Colorado and file them with the court. Usually, an attorney is responsible for this task, but their services are very costly. If you are looking for an easy and inexpensive way to obtain a marriage dissolution decree, think about a do-it-yourself divorce where you collect same-sex divorce paperwork in Colorado by yourself.
An even better option is to opt for a divorce over the Internet. Same-sex couples can file for divorce in Colorado with one of the best online divorce websites in the state — coloradoonlinedivorce.com. It provides the necessary package of printable documents at an affordable price of $139. And the process is fast — it only takes a few days to get your papers after registration.
Same-sex divorce papers in Colorado
Same-sex divorce forms in Colorado differ for contested and uncontested cases and in cases with minor children. Typically, they include a Petition for Marriage Dissolution, Separation Agreement, Certificate of Compliance, Sworn Financial Statement, etc. If you file on your own, you also need a Summons and Pretrial Statement. Couples with children must file a parenting plan for the court’s revision.
Amicable marriage dissolution does not require legal help. Contested cases almost always need a lawyer because there could be many complications along the way. Even if you have collected some information on how to file a same-sex divorce in Colorado, it does not guarantee a positive outcome of the case.
Valid grounds for same-sex divorce in Colorado
Any couple can get a same-sex divorce in Colorado by stating under oath that their marriage is irretrievably broken. There is no need for a spouse filing for divorce to prove the other party’s guilt since all fault-based grounds have been discontinued in Colorado, which is now considered a no-fault state for marriage dissolution. Colorado courts recognize common-law marriage, requiring the same procedure for formal marriage dissolution as official unions.
Same-sex spouses who file for divorce in Colorado must meet the residency requirements and indicate in a petition that their marriage is irretrievably broken. If you are married to a same-sex spouse who is out of state, you can get a divorce in Colorado if you have lived in this state for 90 days before filing a petition.
Under Colorado law, if one of the parties denies this fact, a judge must consider all factors and circumstances that led to filing a petition and the prospect of reconciliation. After all necessary findings, the matter will continue at a further court hearing. A judge might suggest the spouses seek counseling or proceed with the marriage dissolution procedure (Colorado Rev. Stat. § 14-10-110).
Custody of the Child
The divorce process in Colorado for same-sex couples with children is essentially the same as for heterosexual couples. If both spouses are legal parents, they have equal rights to be awarded child custody. The couple may submit joint or individual parenting plans where they determine visitation time and allocate decision-making responsibilities.
In the absence of an adequate parenting plan, a judge makes decisions according to the child’s best interests. Joint legal custody is preferable if each parent is fit for parenting and does not have a history of violence or abusive behavior.
A judge considers the following factors when making a decision:
- the relationship between a child and each parent;
- the wishes of the child;
- the mental and physical health of all parties;
- the willingness of the parent to encourage frequent contact of a child and another parent;
- other factors.
A person married to a same-sex can get a divorce in Colorado when all custody and visitation issues have been resolved. Some courts require that couples attend a parenting class (CFIT Classes) to better understand their children’s needs.
Under Colorado law, both parents must support their minor children after separation. The amount of this support is determined according to child support guidelines. Colorado uses the Income Shares Model that takes the adjusted gross monthly income of both parents as a basis for the calculation of child support.
Apart from the guidelines, a judge can also consider the following factors (Colorado Rev. Stat. § 14-10-115 (2)):
- financial needs and resources of a child and both parents;
- the standard of living during the marriage;
- physical and emotional condition of a child and their educational needs.
Child support obligation ceases when a child becomes emancipated or turns 18 years old. In case he or she is still in high school at age 18, child support ends when they either turn 19 or graduate from high school.
In Colorado, unlike other states, several legislative efforts were made to establish a more straightforward procedure to award spousal support, also called spousal maintenance. In particular, the state added a specific table for calculating the amount and duration of alimony. It includes the parties’ combined adjusted gross income. Typically, for marriages longer than three years and AGI more than $240,000, alimony equals 40% of a higher income minus the lower income.
The duration of alimony payments is calculated according to the length of the marriage. The Colorado Statutes use a table for unions from three to twenty years long. For instance, if a couple was married for five years, the court will award alimony for 21 months. For marriages longer than 20 years, a court may award the maintenance for at least ten years and sometimes even longer than that.
However, judges can deviate from guidelines by considering other important factors such as the financial resources and needs of both parties, the standard of living during the marriage, property distribution, etc. Each party can apply for a modification of the alimony order. To do that, they must present adequate financial information that shows a significant change in circumstances.
In a divorce proceeding, the court shall decide how to divide assets and debts between the spouses according to the principle of equitable distribution. How is property divided into equitable states such as Colorado? First of all, each spouse receives their separate property acquired by gift, inheritance, or valid agreement of the spouses (Colorado Rev. Stat. § 14-10-113).
Next, a judge will divide marital property considering all relevant factors:
- Each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition of the property;
- The value of the separate property of each spouse;
- Financial circumstances of each party when the division takes place;
- Any improvements or depletion of individual property during the marriage for all family purposes.
All retirement benefits, especially those established during the marriage, and gifts from one party to the other, are considered marital property divided between the spouses.
Spouses that file for same-sex divorce in Colorado and cannot reach an amicable agreement have an option to resolve their conflicts at mediation sessions conducted by a neutral third party (a mediator). It is usually a quick and relatively inexpensive solution compared to a full-scale divorce trial.
The parties to the case are encouraged to find compromises through the process in a peaceful environment. The agreement reached via mediation is not binding, and any of the spouses can decide to proceed with the standard procedure as if there were no negotiations.
Filing fees for same-sex divorce in Colorado
Currently, when spouses in a same-sex marriage file for divorce in Colorado, they must pay filing fees in the amount set by the court’s local rules where the case is filed. A Petition for dissolution of marriage costs $230, and the Response — $116. If a couple has minor children and wants to allocate parental responsibilities, such a petition will cost $222 to submit to the court.
Also, you need to decide how to serve your spouse with the papers because it costs additional fees. Serving your spouse with the help of a private server will be more expensive than if you choose a Sheriff’s department.
How long will it take
Divorce for same-sex couples in Colorado has a mandatory 90-day waiting period before it can be finalized. The length of a divorce process depends on circumstances such as the presence of minor children. Also, the court workload affects the date for a court hearing. For childless couples with no contested issues, the duration of a marriage dissolution process is approximately 3-4 months. As for contested cases with substantial property and minor children, the process may take as long as 9-12 months.