Divorce: Am I Required to be Separated from My Spouse before Officially Divorcing?


Every state has different laws about how a couple can get divorced. Recently, a client asked me if she needed to be officially separated from her spouse before the Court would allow them to divorce.

The short answer is, in the State of Colorado, no.

However, there are a few more details that are important to note if you’re planning on getting divorced in Colorado. Let’s take a look.

Requirements for Divorcing in Colorado

Colorado does not require couples to be formally separated in order to get divorced, and in fact, I’ve had clients that continued to live together up until the divorce is finalized—and even afterward (sometimes it just makes financial sense, depending on the couple).

Although these rules may seem lenient, the State of Colorado does have two requirements for getting a divorce:

  1. You have to have been legally married in the first place.
  2. Colorado must be your domiciliary (your permanent home).

How do you prove that Colorado is your domiciliary?

The law states that someone must live in Colorado for at least 91 days in order to file for divorce. So, theoretically, if someone came to Colorado (perhaps they were assigned here for their job), even if he or she lived here for an extended period of time (less than 91 days), they would not be able to file for divorce.

And, as I’ve written about previously, once the divorce paperwork is filed, the state will not grant a divorce for another 91 days—so, usually, a person must have lived in Colorado for 182 days in order to get divorced here. (Technically, a person could move after the divorce was filed, and, if they were here for 91 days before they filed, they could still get divorced in Colorado.)

Married in One State, Divorced in Another

As a rule, if you are married in one state you are married in all states. If you are divorced in one state, you are divorced in all states. This means that, despite the varying laws surrounding the way people are allowed to get married and divorced, all states uphold your marital status.

(Interestingly, when Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to allow same-sex marriage in 2004, the marriages that were performed had to be upheld everywhere: even states that wouldn’t offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples were still legally obligated to treat the couple as married if the marriage license was issued by a state that recognized same-sex marriage.)

If you’re looking for a quick divorce and you live in Nevada, you’re in luck: it may not come as a surprise that Nevada has some of the most lenient marriage laws. People get married and divorced in Nevada all the time—and you can bet they don’t have to wait 182 days.

However, if you live in Colorado, it will take a while longer. We can help. Working with an attorney is the best way to make sure that your divorce is done right the first time, saving you time, energy and heartache in the future. Call us at 303-449-1873 to set up a free consultation.

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