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Colorado Family Law

Colorado Family Law

Colorado Family Law: Understanding the Basics

Family law is a branch of legal practice that deals with domestic relations and family matters such as marriage, child custody, adoption, and divorce. In Colorado, family law governs the rights and responsibilities of individuals in relationships, providing guidelines and legal remedies for family conflicts. Whether you are going through a divorce, seeking custody or child support, or adopting a child, understanding Colorado family law can help you navigate the legal system and safeguard your rights. This article provides an overview of Colorado family law, including recent updates and changes in the field.

Marriage in Colorado

Marriage is a legal and social institution that grants couples certain legal rights and obligations. In Colorado, couples can get married if they are both at least 18 years old or if they are 16 or 17 years old with parental consent. Colorado recognizes same-sex marriages, and couples can obtain marriage licenses from county clerk and recorder offices throughout the state. Before getting married in Colorado, couples should be aware of the legal requirements and restrictions of marriage, including the following:

– Marriage requirements: Couples must provide proof of identity, age, and residency to obtain a marriage license. They must also sign a marriage certificate and have it witnessed by an authorized person.
– Legal restrictions: Colorado law prohibits certain marriages, such as those between close relatives, persons with mental disabilities, and persons already married or in a civil union.
– Common law marriage: Colorado is one of the few states that recognizes common law marriages, which are legal unions between two people who have cohabited for a certain period of time and held themselves out as married. To establish a common law marriage in Colorado, couples must meet certain criteria, including mutual consent, cohabitation, and public recognition of the relationship.
– Marriage dissolution: If a couple decides to end their marriage, they can file for divorce in a Colorado court. Divorce is a complex and emotional process that involves dividing assets and debts, determining child custody and support, and addressing spousal maintenance, among other issues.

Child Custody and Support in Colorado

Child custody and support are two of the most contentious issues in family law. In Colorado, child custody refers to the care, control, and maintenance of a child, while child support is the financial assistance provided by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent for the support of their child. Colorado law requires that child custody decisions be made in the best interests of the child, taking into account factors such as:

– The child’s wishes, if mature enough to express them
– Each parent’s ability and willingness to care for the child
– The child’s relationship with each parent
– The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
– The mental and physical health of all individuals involved

When parents cannot agree on custody arrangements, Colorado courts may order a custody evaluation, which involves a neutral evaluator assessing the needs and preferences of the child and the fitness of each parent to provide for those needs. The court may also consider the parents’ history of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse when making custody decisions.

Child support in Colorado is based on the incomes of both parents, as well as the physical custody arrangement. Colorado uses a child support formula that takes into account each parent’s income, the number of children, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. The non-custodial parent is typically responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent, unless the parties agree otherwise or the court orders a different arrangement. Failure to pay child support can result in serious legal and financial consequences, including wage garnishment, license suspension, and even imprisonment in some cases.

Adoption in Colorado

Adoption is a legal process that allows individuals or couples to establish a permanent and legal relationship with a child who is not their biological offspring. In Colorado, there are several types of adoption, including:

– Agency or private adoption: In agency adoption, a licensed child placement agency handles the adoption process, including screening and matching adoptive parents with children. In private adoption, birth parents place their child directly with an adoptive family, without the involvement of an agency.
– Relative or stepparent adoption: In relative adoption, a family member, such as an aunt, uncle, or grandparent, adopts a child in need of a permanent home. In stepparent adoption, a spouse of a biological parent adopts the child, typically with the consent of the other biological parent.
– International or foster care adoption: In international adoption, a child from another country is adopted by a family in the United States. In foster care adoption, a child who has been placed in temporary foster care is adopted by a permanent family.

Adoption in Colorado is governed by state law, which requires that adoptive parents meet certain eligibility criteria, including age, health, and background checks. The adoption process typically involves a home study, which assesses the suitability of the adoptive home and family, as well as legal proceedings to finalize the adoption. Colorado also allows open adoptions, which allow birth parents and adoptive parents to maintain contact and communication with each other after the adoption.

Recent Updates and Changes in Colorado Family Law

Family law is a dynamic and evolving field, with changes and updates often driven by shifts in societal norms, legal precedent, and legislative action. In Colorado, recent updates and changes in family law include the following:

– Parental Rights for Unmarried Fathers: In 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that unmarried fathers have a fundamental right to parent their children, even if they are not listed on the birth certificate or have not established paternity through the legal system. This ruling affirms the constitutional rights of unmarried fathers to participate in child custody and support decisions, and provides a framework for establishing parental rights outside of marriage.
– Child Custody and Relocation: In 2019, the Colorado legislature passed a law that requires a parent seeking to relocate with a child to provide written notice to the other parent at least 60 days in advance. The law also requires that the notice include specific information about the proposed relocation, as well as a statement of the other parent’s rights to object and seek a modification of the custody order. This law aims to reduce the potential disruption and conflict caused by unexpected relocations and promotes cooperation and communication between co-parents.
– Kinship Placement Act: In 2021, Colorado passed the Kinship Placement Act, which provides financial assistance and support to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other kin who take on the responsibility of caring for children who are unable to live with their parents. The Act aims to promote more stable and permanent placements for children who may otherwise be placed in foster care, and to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of kinship caregivers.


Family law is a complex and emotionally charged field that affects the lives of millions of individuals and families every day. In Colorado, family law provides a framework for resolving conflicts, establishing legal relationships, and safeguarding the best interests of children. Whether you are considering getting married, seeking custody or support, or adopting a child, understanding Colorado family law can help you make informed and empowered decisions about your family’s future. By staying current on updates and changes in the field, you can ensure that your rights and interests are protected and that your family’s welfare is safeguarded.

Understanding Colorado Family Law

When it comes to the CO Family Law niche in the legal industry, there are numerous issues the niche contends to:

1. Divorce

2. Marriage

3. Adoption

4. Surrogacy

5. Juvenile Adjudication

6. Guardianship

7. Domestic Violence

And even these sub-niches of Colorado Family Law involve certain specific situations as well, such as:

For Divorce:

1. Child Support

2. Child Custody

3. Parenting Time

4. Property Distribution

5. Alimony

For Adoption:

1. Stepparent Adoption

2. Temporary Adoption

3. Overseas Adoption

4. Permanent Adoption

For Juvenile Adjudication

1. Child Abuse

2. Domestic Violence

3. Runaway

4. Delinquency

Yes, it’s a massive niche. A lot is handled when involving CO Family Law.

More Details on Divorce Law under CO Family Law

In Colorado, there are specific rules when filing for a petition. Residency is a must. The correct grounds in Colorado – a marriage that is irretrievably broken – has to be met in the petition.

Property distribution is generally decided on an equitable distribution standard where property is “fairly” divided between both parties without regard to value of property. Alimony is also determined both by the parties involved and the court system.

Marriage Under CO Family Law

Colorado Family Law even deals with the concept of marriage! It is, after all, a legal contract in the state of Colorado. Any two people can actually have a ‘wedding’ right in the courthouse if they so choose, because in marriage there are Colorado family laws to follow:

1. A Valid Marriage License

2. Witnesses

3. Ordained Person

4. Legal Age

Adoption Under CO Family Law

This is a massively complex niche. The fact is all of these sub-niches require the professionalism of a quality Colorado family law attorney.

Typically, a home study is established along with a screening process and interview. It could take anywhere between weeks to even years to finalize an adoption. Hiring an adoption attorney would be advisable.

Surrogacy Under Colorado Family Laws

It’s sometimes called Reproductive Law under the Colorado family laws, but there are definitions here that would serve anyone considering surrogacy. There are two types Colorado recognizes:

1. Traditional Surrogacy

2. Gestational Surrogacy

Traditional is pretty basic. It’s about artificial insemination where a woman utilizes her own eggs and has one fertilized by a man’s sperm outside of sexual intercourse.

Gestational, though, can be a much larger legal matter, as it generally involves the harvesting of eggs and then a fertilization of one egg into another woman’s uterus, hence making that woman the carrier of the embryo for the actual mother of the child.

A legal contract under Colorado family laws does have to be written up in the sense that the carrier must not lay claim to the child about to be born, even though the carrier is the one bringing the baby into the world. Parental rights are specifically stated in Colorado family laws so that everything is clear.

Guardianship, Domestic Violence, and Juvenile Adjudication Under Colorado Family Law

These can overlap from time to time, because it centers around the importance of fostering some protection over the children in Colorado. Children who are either:

1. Orphans

2. Abused

3. Delinquents

The court mandates guardianship solely on the grounds that any given child for a certain case must be protected in terms of legal and physical custody. This actually falls in line with adoption laws as well. Domestic violence, of course, plays a role, because a child may be removed from a home with such violence for the purpose of protecting the child; and then the state holds custody of that child as a “ward.”