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Colorado Family Law: An Overview

Family law issues are inherently complicated by intense emotions that can cause problems for reaching a quick and satisfactory resolution. Whether you’re going through the nerve-wracking process of adoption or the stress of divorce, going into these issues with focus and an understanding of the Colorado family laws affecting your case can help you attain your goals.

If you have a family law case in Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs or elsewhere in Colorado, LawInfo is your source for information and legal help. LawInfo’s Colorado Family Law section includes legal overviews, summaries of state laws and other resources to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.

If you need help navigating the complex laws governing your case, a Colorado family law attorney can help and treat your case with the sensitivity it deserves.

Colorado Child Custody and Parenting Time

One of the toughest parts about divorce is deciding which parent will have custody of the minor children (under age 18) and the noncustodial parent’s rights to visitation, known as “parenting time” in Colorado. In determining the best interests of the child concerning custody and parenting time, Colorado courts often try to ensure that both parents continue to each play an important role in the child’s upbringing.

A parent who has been charged with sexual assault or domestic violence may have their custody and parenting rights restricted or withheld. Otherwise, the court bases its custody and parenting time decisions on several factors, including:

  • The child’s wishes.
  • The parents’ wishes.
  • How close each parent’s residences are to one another.
  • Each parent’s ability to place their child’s needs before their own.
  • The child’s relationships and interactions with each parent, siblings and any other person who plays a significant role in the child’s life.

The Colorado Revised Statutes § 14-10-124 contains the rules courts must use to determine custody and parenting time.

Colorado Marriage Requirements

Colorado places restrictions and rules on who can get legally married in the interest of both parties’ respective health and the community. (See § 14-2-110.) The state’s marriage laws are also concerned with each party’s willingness to enter into marriage. Neither party can be forced to marry the other and the law invalidates (annuls) marriages that were entered into under fraudulent pretenses.

Colorado’s marriage restrictions include:

  • No party under age 16 may marry.
  • Parties age 16 or 17 must obtain the consent of both parents/guardians or, if the parents are separated or divorced, the consent of just the custodial parent to marry.
  • Bigamy is prohibited.
  • Marriage between siblings, parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews or any two parties of ancestral descent by whole or half blood is prohibited. If incestuous marriage is permitted by indigenous customs, it is legally permitted.

If you and your partner meet Colorado’s marriage requirements, you must then apply for a marriage license before performing your marriage ceremony. Once you’ve obtained a license, you have 35 days until it expires to perform the ceremony. There’s no waiting period once you have the license. (See § 14-2-107.)

Colorado No-Fault Dissolution

Some states only allow for divorces if specific grounds are met, such as adultery or abandonment. Colorado doesn’t require any reason other than an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. (See § 14-10-106.)

An irretrievable breakdown means that, at neither party’s fault, the marriage is no longer harmonious and there’s no hope of amending the damages through counseling or other means. The court may order a couple to counseling if there isn’t a clear case of an irretrievable breakdown but if nothing changes after counseling, the court may enter into a final divorce decree.

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