I Live in Colorado and My Wife Lives in Another State, Can I Get a Divorce Here?
In a very general and basic sense, the answer if, “yes.” So long as you have been domiciled in Colorado for more than 91 days you have the legal right to file for divorce here pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-106. Domiciled, though not quite the same as being a resident, essentially means that a person has made Colorado his or her home and not just a temporary location.
Though a person domiciled in Colorado for 91 days or more can file for divorce here, whether they will be able to deal with financial or child issues in that case will depend on other factors.
If a married couple resided in Colorado together and one of the spouses moved to another state, say Nebraska, the person remaining in Colorado could file for divorce in Colorado and would be able to deal with all financial issues of the marriage in that divorce case, regardless of how long the other spouse had been gone. Pursuant to C.R.S. 13-1-124 (the “long arm statute), a spouse moving away from Colorado is still subject to the State’s jurisdiction. If the parties resided here then Colorado retains jurisdiction over a party to a divorce who has moved away.
However, if the situation is reversed in that one party moved here, leaving the other party behind in their original state of residence, then Colorado would not have jurisdiction over the out-of-state party for purposes of dealing with financial issues in the divorce, such as child support, alimony, or property division unless an exception was applicable. Under notions of Constitutional law, a state can exercise jurisdiction over a party they if they either have “minimal contacts” with Colorado or are personally served with the divorce filing while they are in Colorado. Another exception to this rule would be in instances in which one spouse has moved from elsewhere to Colorado, at the doing or behest of the other party. Ownership of real property or a business interest in Colorado could also subject that out-of-state spouse to our jurisdiction.
As relates to children, if the party moving here from another state has brought the children to Colorado, then he or she will have to wait at least 6 months from the date of arrival before Colorado could exercise jurisdiction over the children. If the children are with with the other parent, having either never moved to Colorado or having left Colorado more than 6 months before filing, then the other state would have jurisdiction over the custody issues.
Interstate jurisdiction can be somewhat tricky to navigate through and it is quite common for the Denver family law attorneys at Plog & Stein to receives calls from people with the misconception that they can automatically deal with their divorce case (or custody case) just because they arise here. In light of the jurisdictional soup that can come with interstate cases it’s always important to methodically analyze the situation prior to filing. Sometimes that analysis leads to the conclusion that the other state is the more proper forum for the divorce case.