I want to talk to you a little bit about where you should file your case if you’re going through a divorce, whether it is a civil union divorce or not, or a custody action. In a child custody action, the child must be in Colorado and in the county in which the child can be found for at least 182 days before it’s permitted to file an action involving allocation of parental responsibilities.
In a divorce action, there are more complex rules. One of the parties must allege in filing a petition that at least one of the parties has been in Colorado for more than 92 days prior to the petition being filed. If there are children, that party must be able to show that the children have been here in Colorado for more than 182 days, so it’s a combination of the two. But let’s suppose that a couple was married in the state of Massachusetts and they were married six years ago in Massachusetts and they’ve been living in El Paso County for the past year. It doesn’t matter where they were married as long as the court has subject matter and personal jurisdiction over the parties, meaning that as long as they can establish that they’ve been here for more than 92 days then either party can file a petition or in some situations parties file petitions together and wait 92 days until the court can grant a decree.
Decrees of dissolution of marriage are granted in one of two ways. One way is obvious, it’s through an agreement. Those agreements must be signed, they must be in writing, and they must spell out all the details as to how all the property or assets and debts are divided and how spousal maintenance is to be determined. In cases involving parenting you must also have a parenting plan that describes child support and how all the parenting is to be shared. And the other option, of course, is that a judge is called upon to make a decision on contested issues and has to make rulings as to how the marital estate and how custody is going to be determined.