The short answer to this is No, in Colorado, you cannot refuse a divorce. It’s pretty simply: if your spouse wants to divorce you, then he or she will file divorce papers and have you served.
Theoretically, the only way you could prevent the divorce is if you somehow avoid service, but even if you manage to avoid service, under the right circumstances your spouse can serve you by publication. In this scenario, your spouse can publish a divorce notice in the local newspaper if the situation meets certain qualifications.
What Happens When I Am Served Divorce Papers?
Once you’re served divorce papers, it is inevitable that the divorce will be processed by the Court system unless one of several things happens:
- If you claim the Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the case or the person.
- If two different states have jurisdiction over the case.
- If one person is unable to defend him- or herself.
I’ve had cases where somebody files for divorce in Texas but the spouse runs to Colorado to try and file for divorce here. (This can happen for several reasons, including when a spouse perceives that he or she will benefit more from local laws in one state or the other.) This is a scenario where the Court’s jurisdiction could come into question, especially if there are children of the marriage.
Now, if two different states have jurisdiction over the case, the Court can do an analysis as to where it makes the most sense to process the divorce. This is called an “inconvenient forum.”
I once had a case where the parties had dual residences. They spent significant time in both Colorado and California, and while the mother wanted to get divorced in Colorado, the father tried to file for divorce in California because he thought he would get a better deal in that state. Because the children went to school in Colorado, the Courts conferred and ultimately decided that the divorce should go through a Colorado court.
In some cases, if one party is unable to defend him- or herself, the judge may “freeze” the case, that is, put it on hold until both parties are able to defend themselves. I worked on a case where a man was trying to divorce his wife while she was in the midst of a manic bi-polar episode. She was not in a position to defend herself, and I successfully convinced the Court to put the case on hold. Despite the fact that the other side pushed back, the judge agreed with me, and postponed the case.
From these examples, you can see that, while it’s not possible to outright refuse to get divorced in Colorado, each specific situation may call for postponement or an evaluation as to whether Colorado is the right state to oversee the divorce.
Participate and Protect Your Rights
The bottom line is that, at least in Colorado, it is best to actively participate in your divorce — whether you want it or not — and protect your rights.
Trying to avoid being served divorce paperwork will ultimately be a difficult and likely fruitless endeavor (just look at Representative Mo Brooks’ very public and ultimately unsuccessful attempt at avoiding being served papers for his involvement in the January 6 Capital Riot).
Once you are served, if you ignore the papers and default, the Court will only hear from one side, and you will be at a substantial disadvantage. The Court’s decision will be final.
So, as I mentioned, whether or not you want to be getting divorced, the best thing you can do is hire an attorney, figure out your next best steps, and make choices that are in the best interest of you and your children.
Getting ready to go through a divorce proceeding, or already in the midst of one? Let’s talk. Call our office today at 303-449-1873 to set up a complimentary consultation.