No Fault Divorce
Under Colorado law, the term, “No Fault Divorce” means that regardless of fault, either party may seek to have a court dissolve a marriage. This concept only requires proof that the marriage is, “irretrievably broken.” The parties may agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken by simply stating that for whatever reason or reasons, they choose not to be married to one another.
Fault as an Issue
Under the “No Fault” provision of Colorado law, fault is not usually allowed. However, there exists certain circumstances, which allow a judge to consider the impact of fault by either party. The most likely situation where fault is allowed to be proved occurs when one of the parties has spent or used marital monies on a venture or while engaging in conduct that was not approved by an agreement of the parties beforehand. A husband or wife who has a gambling or drug or alcohol problem and depletes marital accounts to support this behavior, is an example of when fault could be an issue. Usually, evidence that a party in a divorce action has been having an extra-marital affair is not going to be allowed by the court to support the other party’s claim or allegations against the other party. But, when a husband or wife in a divorce proceeding intends on showing the court that the other party used marital funds for travel or entertainment, that evidence may be admitted to establish that the other party, “wasted” marital assets.
COLORADO’S NO FAULT DIVORCE LAW
The law in the State of Colorado permits either a Husband or a Wife to file a Dissolution of Marriage action. Those cases are commonly called “divorces.” The parties to a divorce will not be required to prove or allege the reasons why they want a divorce, because Colorado is a “No Fault Divorce” state.
When a divorce action is filed a petition is prepared and filed with the Clerk of the Court in the County where the parties reside. The petition must allege certain facts or elements. The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must state that: “The marriage is irretrievably broken.” The meaning of those terms are that, one or both of the parties do not want to stay married based on differences that can not be reversed, and therefore the parties have differences that can not be healed, repaired or fixed. It only takes one spouse to say that the marriage is irretrievably broken, even if the other party disagrees and wants to stay married. This is the “No Fault” provision of the law.
It is important to keep in mind that even if your spouse has done something underhanded or behaved in a deceitful manner, most likely, that evidence will be deemed, “irrelevant” and will not be allowed by the judge. Here are some common examples of “fault” that usually will not be allowed:
- Drug or alcohol addiction;
- Extra marital affair, infidelity, or marital misconduct of any kind;
- Criminal activities, arrests or convictions, such as Domestic Violence;
- The entry of a Permanent Protection Order or Restraining Order by a judge;
- Abandonment of the family or failure to provide support;
There are rare exceptions to the “No Fault Law” such as when a spouse uses joint marital monies or a joint marital credit card for purposes that are not truly, “marital.” In one case I represented a woman, whose husband had a serious gambling addiction. The husband spent well over $100,000 on gambling trips to Las Vegas and had accumulated massive credit card debt as a result of his addiction. It was proven that he hid his gambling debts from his wife for over 5 years! The evidence at trial was allowed by the court because it showed that the husband depleted marital assets and caused the marriage significant debt, all of which was husband’s fault. The husband’s gambling addiction and wild expense habits caused the marital estate to suffer terrible financial loses. The husband was ordered to be personally responsible for all debts related to this type of misconduct.
In determining whether there is evidence of “fault” that should be considered by the court, it’s always best to consult with an experienced member of the Colorado Bar. Keep in mind however, the “No Fault” provisions of Colorado divorce law usually will not allow the kind of mud slinging and character assassination that used to be commonplace.
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