Navigating the complexities of divorce can be an emotional and stressful experience. Understanding the basics of how the process works in your state can provide some clarity during this difficult time. At Boal Law, we strive to assist you in understanding these complexities. When seeking a divorce in Colorado, there are several critical aspects to consider, such as division of property and assets, spousal support, and child custody, which is referred to in divorce cases as the “allocation of parental responsibilities”.

The Divorce Process in Colorado

The divorce process in Colorado begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage by one spouse, who is designated the “Petitioner”, or both spouses as “Co-Petitioners”. If filed by only one spouse, the other spouse, termed the “Respondent”, is then served with the divorce papers and has 21 days (if they are in Colorado) or 35 days (if they are out of state) to respond1.

If the Respondent fails to respond within the given timeframe, the court may grant a default judgment for the Petitioner, but they are not required to.  In practice, however, many judges will not do this especially if the unresponsive spouse does not have an attorney.

If both parties agree on all issues, the divorce can proceed uncontested. However, if there are disagreements over any issue, the divorce is considered contested, and the court will need to make decisions on those matters. Whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, it’s always a good idea to have a competent and reputable attorney on your side to help guide you through the process and protect your rights.

Division of Property and Assets

Colorado follows the principle of “fair and equitable” division of marital property and debt, which means that the court will divide the marital estate fairly, but not necessarily equally2. Factors considered by the court include each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition of marital property, the value of the property set apart to each spouse, and the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective3.

Spousal Support

Spousal support, also known as alimony or maintenance, is not guaranteed in Colorado divorces. The court considers a number of factors when determining whether to award spousal support, including the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, the lifestyle during the marriage, and the distribution of marital property4. The goal of spousal support is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a standard of living similar to that enjoyed during the marriage for a period of time after the marriage while they get on their feet.

Child Custody

In Colorado, child custody is referred to as parental responsibilities, which include parenting time (physical custody) and decision-making responsibilities (legal custody). Colorado courts make parenting decisions in the best interests of the children. Factors considered include the parents’ wishes, the child’s wishes (if sufficiently mature), the child’s interactions and relationship with each parent, the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community, and the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, as well as several other factors5.

Divorce is undoubtedly challenging, but understanding the process can help you navigate it more confidently. At Boal Law Firm, we are committed to providing our clients with the legal counsel they need during this difficult time. If you have any questions or need assistance with your divorce, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Please note that this article is intended to be a general guide and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult with a qualified family law attorney for advice specific to your situation.


  1. Colorado Judicial Branch – Self Help – Forms – Divorce, Family Matters, Civil Unions
  2. Colorado Revised Statutes Title 14. Domestic Matters § 14-10-113
  3. Colorado Revised Statutes Title 14. Domestic Matters § 14-10-114
  4. Colorado Revised Statutes Title 14. Domestic Matters § 14-10-114
  5. Colorado Revised Statutes Title 14. Domestic Matters § 14-10-124
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