Colorado Family Law. Period.
No professional, in any walk of life, can master everything, and the attorneys at Graham.Law are no exception. We do not try to be “jacks of all trades”, representing any client who walks in our door, regardless of type of case. We focus on what we know and do best – Colorado divorce & family law.
We have published two guides loaded with useful articles about your family law situation which you may find useful:
- Colorado Family Law Guide. Comprehensive guide to Colorado family law with up-to-date articles on all aspects of family law, including divorce, legal separation, child custody & support, common law marriage, paternity, alimony, and more. Includes the Do-it-Yourself Divorce Guide, with links to necessary forms.
- Military Divorce Guide. Comprehensive guide to military divorce & family law issues with up-to-date articles on military retirement, survivor benefit plan (SBP), VA disability, Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, former spouse benefits & more.
A divorce, or dissolution of marriage, is the most common way to end a marriage in Colorado. The process takes a minimum of 91 days, although a contested case will typically take 6-9 months. A divorce will resolve all outstanding issues between the spouses, including dividing property & debt, determining parenting, child support & maintenance. For more information, see the divorce articles in the Colorado Family Law Guide.
Military Divorce Issues
While there is no such thing as a “military divorce”, a divorce case involving military members or retirees presents unique issues that require specialized knowledge on division of military retirement, VA disability, 20/20/20 benefits, deciphering an LES, addressing parenting issues during deployment, etc. Graham.Law has several military veterans and family members, and our managing partner, Carl O. Graham, is widely acknowledged as Colorado’s leading authority on military family law matters, and is author of the Military Divorce Guide. You should especially review the articles on Division of Military Retirement.
Colorado is somewhat unique by offering an alternative means of ending a marriage called a “legal separation” It is procedurally identical to a divorce, and the parties are divorced in all but name, with a final determination of property, debt, parenting and support. For more information on whether a legal separation may be beneficial, see the Legal Separation article in the Colorado Family Law Guide.
An annulment, or a “declaration of invalidity of marriage”, is a rare procedure by which spouses end their marriage based upon very specific grounds, including marrying a void marriage (such as marrying a close family member), lacking the capacity to marry, or marrying under duress or as a dare. For more information, see the articles on Annulment in the Colorado Family Law Guide.
Common Law Marriage
Colorado is one of the very few states where spouses can enter into a “common law marriage” without obtaining a marriage license, by cohabitating, holding themselves out as married, and intending to be married. A common law marriage is just as legally binding as a “ceremonial marriage”, and requires a formal legal proceeding to end. For more information, see the Common Law Marriage article in the Colorado Family Law Guide.
Child Custody & Visitation
In a divorce or other family law case involving children, the Colorado domestic relations court will enter parenting orders addressing where the children live, decision-making, and more, based upon the “best interests of the children” standard. For more information, see the Parenting & Custody section of the Colorado Family Law Guide., and if you are a military family, the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody & Visitation Act article in the Military Divorce Guide.
When children are involved in a Colorado family law case, the court will order child support based upon the Colorado Child Support Guidelines, taking into account the parents’ incomes, number of children, how many overnights each child has, day care & health insurance costs, and more. Child support is generally owing until the youngest child turns 19, unless the child emancipates at a different age. For more information, see the Family Support section of the Colorado Family Law Guide.
Known as “maintenance” or “spousal support”, a court may order a spouse to pay maintenance to the other based upon a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, spouses’ financial situations, ability to work, need, ability to pay, and more. Colorado also has maintenance guidelines providing a non-binding formula for the amount and duration of maintenance. For more information, see the Family Support articles in the Colorado Family Law Guide.
Division of Property & Debts
In Colorado, property acquired during the marriage is usually “marital property”, and includes real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, businesses, stock options, pets, and more. The property and debts acquired during marriage are known as the “marital estate”, and the court in all divorce, legal separation and annulment cases is required to divide assets & debts “equitably, or fairly. That almost always means equally. For more information, see the Asset & Debts section of the Colorado Family Law Guide.
A juvenile court will determine parenting time, decision-making and child support for children whose parents were not married to each other. The issues and law are similar to other parenting cases, except that the court addresses additional issues such as determining the father, genetic testing, addressing multiple presumptive fathers, and changing the child’s name. For more information, see the Paternity & Unmarried Parents article in the Colorado Family Law Guide, and, if one parent is in the military, the Paternity & the Military article in the Military Divorce Guide.
Domestic Violence & Restraining Orders
Spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, or even neighbors and others, may need to obtain a restraining order (“protective order” in Colorado) against the other party. Such orders either prohibit the other party from contacting the protected party or going to his/her home or workplace, or they may severely limit the type of contact which is permitted. For more information, see the Domestic Violence section of the Colorado Family Law Guide. And if the perpetrator is in the military, the Domestic Violence section of the Military Divorce Guide has articles on both additional protections victims can obtain from the command, as well as possible benefits which may be available.
Grandparent Rights & Visitation
Grandparents and other third parties may be able to obtain court-ordered visitation with children if certain conditions are met. For more information, see the Grandparent Rights & Visitation article in the Colorado Family Law Guide.