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Colorado Divorce Laws and Infidelity

Tolison & Williams | 5 December, 2017 | Divorce
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Unfortunately, infidelity is not a rare cause of divorce. Of course, there are other common factors that can lead up to a divorce. Denver divorce lawyers are here to guide you in this case. 

A spouse who has been cheated on may feel betrayed and angry. They may want the courts to inflict some sort of penalty on their spouse during divorce proceedings. On the other hand, a spouse who has cheated may worry that their actions could have a negative impact in terms of child support or custody.

So, how do divorce laws and cheating relate to each other in the state of Colorado? First, Colorado is a no-fault state. This means the only criteria for getting a divorce is proving that the marriage is not salvageable. One spouse doesn’t need to prove the other wrong or at fault. Adultery doesn’t need to be proven or even brought up in order to be granted a divorce.

Does Infidelity Impact Alimony?

Colorado divorce laws obligate judges to take several factors into consideration when determining whether or not to order alimony. They must also consider how long an alimony obligation will last, and how much the obligee will have to pay. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • Disparities in income.
  • The lifestyle the married couple lived during the marriage.
  • Earnings potential of the proposed alimony recipient.
  • Value and distribution of marital property.
  • Any roadblocks to one of the parties being able to obtain employment or otherwise earn money such as health conditions or caring for a minor child.

Infidelity is not one of the factors taken into consideration. However, there is a potential exception to this rule. While a judge cannot use adultery in and of itself to punish a cheating spouse with a higher alimony obligation or punish a receiving spouse with a lower payment, they can consider it if it had a financial impact on the marriage. For example, if a spouse opened up a credit card to fund an affair causing marital debt and credit damage that could be taken into consideration.

Child Support & Custody

Colorado has fairly complex rules for determining the amount of child support. The courts consider both parents’ income, public assistance received, retirement plans and other factors to determine how much the parent with primary custody will receive. School attendance is also a factor. For example, a child turning 19 while still in high school is entitled to receive support. However, if the child is out of school they are not entitled to child support. Marital infidelity does not have a direct impact on child support awards.

However, there are times when a judge will take infidelity into account when making child custody decisions. Generally, if the cheating spouse practiced discretion and the child was not emotionally or financially impacted by the affair, it is a non-issue. However, a spouse who exposed a child to their indiscretions could see a negative result in court should they go for custody.

While cheating is certainly hurtful, it is rarely taken into consideration in divorce proceedings in Colorado. The only exceptions to this are when infidelity has a financial consequence on the marital home or children are traumatized or exposed to immoral behavior. 

If cheating is a factor in your decision to divorce, the best source for specific advice is a qualified family law attorney. You can contact one of our professionals today and receive a free case evaluation.