Colorado is a No-Fault Divorce State (And Why it Matters)

What is a no-fault divorce? Divorces in Colorado are “no-fault” divorces and Colorado is a “no-fault” divorce state. Simply put, this means that you can get divorced at any time and for any reason. Colorado has been a no-fault divorce state since the 1970s. 


No-Fault vs. Fault-Based Divorce

A “no-fault divorce” is a divorce where the parties are not required to prove fault where as a “fault divorce” is where certain “grounds for divorce” need to be proven. In general, Colorado refers to the breakdown of the relationship as a marriage that is “irretrievably broken.” In the old days, parties to a divorce needed to allege one of several “grounds for divorce” such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, mental illness, and various others. The various “grounds for divorce” are seen as outdated, and lawmakers have replaced them with the “no-fault” rule where parties can get divorced at any time for any reason.


Economic vs. Marital Fault

Because divorces in Colorado are treated this way, each party’s indiscretions during the marriage are irrelevant and are usually not considered by the court. However, Colorado courts make a significant distinction between what they term “marital fault” and “economic fault.” Generally, “marital fault” is the type of fault that is excluded from evidence and includes affairs and other the like. See, e.g., In re Marriage of Jorgenson, 143 P.3d 1169, 1173 (Colo. App. 2006) (“Marital fault or misconduct may not be considered by the trial court when it is dividing the marital assets.”). “Economic fault,” on the other hand, is where one of the parties engages in behavior that financially harms the marital estate. Examples of this include spending money on paramours and may consist of extremely reckless financial behavior.

You can learn much more about each state’s no-fault divorce laws in this comprehensive article.