Family Law:

Dissolution of Marriage/Divorce


The daily demands and challenges families face can be overwhelming. When family dynamics change, whether you are a spouse deciding to take a different path or have a mutual and collaborative decision together, it is important to seek the guidance and support of a legal team that can walk you through every step of the process.

Understanding Divorce in Colorado

In Colorado, divorce is commonly referred to as “dissolution of marriage.” Colorado is what is known as a “no-fault” state, which means that you do not have to show that your spouse is “at fault” (i.e., abusive, committed adultery, etc.) in order to dissolve your marriage. All you need to allege is that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

A proceeding for dissolution of marriage is commenced by the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the county to which you or your spouse resides, and the serving of the Petition and Summons to your spouse. Alternatively, you and your spouse may file a joint Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. You or your spouse must live in the State of Colorado for at least 91 days prior to the commencement of an action for dissolution of marriage, and the court cannot enter a decree dissolving your marriage until at least 91 days after your spouse has been served with the Petition and Summons.

Whether you have been married only a few years or you have been together for decades, our experienced, knowledgeable and supportive attorneys will help you navigate any issues that may arise during a dissolution of marriage.

Alternative Option: Collaborative Law Process

A collaborative divorce emphasizes joint and cooperative problem solving instead of, and prior to, litigation and most recently has become a progression in divorce law, nationwide. Both parties remain in control of the entire process without interference from mediators, courts, and judges. It is important to remember that no one knows your personal lives or family dynamic better than you do —especially not a judge. This process is holistic and intended to permit parties to dissolve their legal marriage in a prompt and amicable fashion, minimizing harm and impact to the family unit – especially when children are involved. A collaborative case process will likely keep your family out of court and your legal affairs private.

Typically, assistance from mental health professionals and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) are needed during this collaborative law process. These resources will help ensure an amicable result, showing a model positive dispute resolution. Every Family Law attorney at McConaughy & Sarkissian, P.C. are collaboratively trained and recognized as founding members of the professional group, “Denver Source for Collaborative Divorce.”


Beyond the social and emotional benefits of a collaborative resolution, there is also the opportunity to alleviate some of the monetary burden that often comes with a dissolution of marriage. Traditional divorce proceedings often times take longer, with more a great deal of expenses shared in attorney fees and costs of litigation. Often times, a collaborative case stays out of the Court, which removes any of that risk. From the day your case begins, your money is spent working towards settlement and not trial preparation. While working towards this settlement, you and your family will have the tools and experience needed to resolve matters, which may be used again should post-decree issues arrive including spousal maintenance, child support or parenting time.

Attorney Disqualification

It is important to recognize and understand the potential for attorney disqualification in the event a resolution cannot be agreed upon. Many attorneys see this potential disqualification as support for a settlement incentive to the potential litigants because if the case does not settle, both attorneys would be disqualified from representing either party in the forthcoming proceedings, nor would anyone at the previous attorneys’ firms be able to represent either party. Should be concerned that a resolution might not be met, and risk losing your attorney, there are possible solutions available, like a binding arbitration. Our team can help you navigate next steps, as applicable, should this be the reality you face.

Common Law Marriage

Colorado is one of only a handful of states that recognizes common law marriage.  People often mistakenly believe that someone is their common law spouse because they have cohabited for a certain number of years.  Cohabitation is not the only factor in determining whether parties have entered into a common law marriage. 

In order to find the existence of a common law marriage, a couple must mutually consent to be husband and wife openly and mutually assume a marital relationship.  It is key to establishing a common law marriage that the parties intended to be married and represented to others that they were married.  Examples of some types of evidence of common law marriage are filing a joint tax return as a married couple, or naming a party on a life or health insurance party as your spouse.  However, be aware that there is no such thing as common law dissolution of marriage.  If you are common law married, you will have to obtain a formal decree of dissolution of marriage.