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Out of State Issues in Divorce

Often times, I come across parties who have relationships that are not entirely contained within Colorado. It may be that they own property out of state or that spouses live out of state, either partially or full-time. There are important jurisdictional implications when dealing with people and property that is not located within Colorado.
The most difficult issue is when one party lives in Colorado and the other lives elsewhere, particularly if they have lived separately, although married, for some time. In that case, parties may wonder – in which state is it proper to file the divorce? The answer is likely that either state is proper.

In Colorado, for the court to have proper subject matter jurisdiction over your divorce, at least one of the parties must have been domiciled within Colorado for 91 days preceding the filing of the Petition for Dissolution. Other states’ jurisdictional requirements may vary. Therefore, if you have lived in Colorado for at least 91 days and wish to obtain a divorce, you may file in Colorado to obtain jurisdiction in Colorado. This may be preferable because it is more convenient for you, you have property in Colorado, or your children are in Colorado. This does not, however, mean that the other party may not challenge jurisdiction. Indeed, it may be that two states simultaneously have proper jurisdiction to enter a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. The question then becomes, which venue is more proper. This article does not delve into venue discussions. We will save that for another day.

Once it is determined that Colorado has proper jurisdiction to dissolve the marriage, the next question is, does Colorado have personal jurisdiction over your out-of-state spouse? Jurisdiction may be obtained via a number of avenues, including consent, activities within Colorado, or the maintenance of a marital home in Colorado. Absent personal jurisdiction over the out-of-state spouse, the Colorado court may not divide marital property or enter orders against that spouse – including orders regarding maintenance and child support. Indeed, unless personal jurisdiction can be obtained, via legal means, consent, or otherwise, the court may be limited to dissolving your marriage.

Jurisdictional issues in divorce are challenging and complicated. Snodgrass Law, LLC can help you navigate this complex issue and help you obtain the resolution you seek. Contact us to find out how we can help.