Colorado is a “no-fault” state; what does that mean?

Posted on May 21, 2017

Before Colorado became a “no-fault” state, both spouses had to consent to a divorce or one party had to show grounds, or justify the reasoning, as to why a divorce should be granted. One of the following grounds had to be proven before the court allowed a divorce case to proceed:

  • If a spouse had committed adultery, the innocent party had the right to go to court and file a divorce petition.
  • If one of the parties to a marriage neglected or abandoned his or her family, the deserted party could ask the court to allow a divorce to proceed.
  • Cruelty or other bad behavior as a ground for divorce was invoked when a spouse had been abusive to the other party. The denial of conjugal rights also amounted to cruelty.

At Pollart Miller LLC, we still meet people who believe that in Colorado they need to present grounds for a divorce. Colorado is a “no-fault” state, which means that neither party has to explain to the court why a divorce is being requested. Either party in a divorce proceeding simply has inform the court that the existing marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

What are the pros and cons of “no-fault” state?

Pros.

  1. The process of divorce has been streamlined.
  • The effect of Colorado being a “no-fault” state is that the process of filing and hearing of divorce proceedings has become less complicated. This is unlike the initial process where you had to prove at least one of the grounds for divorce and has cut back on the nastiness and blaming that existed previously.
  1. Saves time.
  • Colorado being a “no-fault” state, allows for divorce matters to take a relatively shorter period of time, hence saving time for both the court and the parties to the proceedings.
  1. Property is divided equitably.
  • Matrimonial property is divided in a just and equitable manner, which doesn’t always mean equal. The court, in most instances, disregards the bad conduct of either party when it wants to decide on the financial implications of the divorce. The court aims to objectively divide the assets (e.g. property) and liability (e.g. debt) equitably. Keep in mind that the court may still consider the bad conduct of one party if it directly resulted in a dissipation or waste of the marital estate when deciding how to equitably divide the assets. However, bad conduct is not a consideration in the actual granting of a divorce.

Cons.

A party who has committed cruel or bad behavior will still get to benefit of the property that was acquired during the marriage. This might seem unfair to other spouse.

How is the adoption of “no-fault” laws impacting marriages?

As everything else, “no-fault” laws see opposition in many people. It is seen as an easy out of marriages, leading to the destruction of the family unit.

The changes of divorce law in Colorado have simplified the process of divorce. The administrative side is only one aspect of the picture, however. In 2004, research conducted by Professor Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson, a Harvard-trained economist, showed decreased rates of suicide, domestic violence, and spousal homicide for women, in states that had adopted “no-fault” laws. In a separate study, Wolfers also discovered that while divorce rates rose sharply immediately after a state adopted no-fault divorce laws, the trend reversed within about a decade. The initial spike in divorces is explained by the bottled up need for separation.

Using the “no-fault” approach in Colorado has proven to be a good and effective approach to the parties who are involved. The divorce matter is heard and determined speedily and the properties and liabilities are divided in a just and equitable manner as the courts deem fit.

Here at Pollart Miller LLC, we believe in family and happiness, and always encourage people to explore all their options, before making the final decision to pursue divorce. Our team is here to answer any questions you might have and to guide you through these emotionally difficult times.

2019-01-08T13:19:52+00:00