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Colorado Dissolution Jurisdiction

A Colorado court must have jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties to grant a dissolution, AKA divorce, as well as to issue family law orders. Jurisdiction is the basis for a court’s legal decision-making authority. Colorado has a “no fault” legal standard for dissolution. The standard in Colorado is “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. Only one party needs to assert the irretrievable breakdown. Because of the no fault standard, wrongful acts such as desertion, cruelty and adultery are not relevant to dissolution. This can be difficult for a spouse who has been wronged to understand. A dissolution can encompass many aspects to include property division, spousal maintenance, child support and allocation of parental responsibilities.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction

A Court must have jurisdiction over a particular type of proceeding in order to issue an order. This is called subject matter jurisdiction. In Colorado, only district courts can enter dissolution orders. Two components of subject matter jurisdiction are domicile and a waiting period. At least one of the parties must have been domiciled in Colorado for at least 91 days preceding filing. Domicile requires residence at some point in Colorado and an intent that Colorado be that person’s permanent residence. Temporary absences do not necessarily negate jurisdiction. If there is a question about domicile in Colorado, a court will look at various factors such as the issuing state of a person’s driver’s license, voter registration, vehicle registration and state tax return filing.

Colorado also has a dissolution waiting period. The period is 91 days after a court acquires jurisdiction over a Respondent. If both parties file together, i.e. co-petition, jurisdiction is obtained upon filing. Otherwise jurisdiction is obtained upon proper service of the Respondent.

Personal Jurisdiction

If a Colorado Court has subject matter jurisdiction alone and personal jurisdiction over the initiating party, it can issue a dissolution decree. However, it must also have personal jurisdiction over the Respondent to issue orders pertaining to spousal or child support, property division or attorney’s fees.

Commencement of Dissolution Proceedings

Dissolution is initiated by filing a petition, summons and case information sheet and having those served on the opposing party. If the parties “co-petition” service is not necessary. Generally, the action should be filed where the Respondent resides.

The Respondent has the opportunity to file a response within 21 days after service. In the response, the Respondent states whether he or she agrees or disagrees with the complaint allegations and has the opportunity to ask the Court for to issue decision or his or her own behalf.

Property Division

One frequently important aspect of dissolution is marital property division. Separate property is not divided but can be considered by a court when dividing marital property. Generally, any property obtained during the marriage is marital property except for inheritances and gifts to one party. The appreciation of an asset during marriage is also marital property in Colorado. For example, if one person owned a home prior to marriage and the value of the home increased during the marriage, the spouse would have an equity interest in the increase of the value during the marriage. The other spouse would retain the premarital asset and value.

Are you looking for a Family Law Attorney who can assist you in understanding your rights and obtaining a Colorado dissolution? Give Janko Law and Mediation a call for a complimentary case assessment at 303-210-4204.

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