How Domestic Violence Impacts Divorce In Colorado

May 1, 2021

Domestic Violence Impacts Divorce

The manner in which domestic violence impacts divorce in Colorado is legally complex and varies from case to case. Colorado is a “no-fault state” meaning that fault (or wrongdoing) is not required for a couple to file for divorce. That being said, any individual is able to file for a faulty divorce in light of domestic violence, but the existence of abuse must be proven in court. Depending on the extent of the domestic violence, the nature of the separation, and/or any potential child custody issues, a divorce proceeding can take several different forms. Consider contacting an experienced attorney at Johnson Law Group at (720) 463-4333 or (720) 730-4558 (text to chat) to discuss your options.

What Is Considered Domestic Violence?

C.R.S. 18-6-800.3 of Colorado Law defines domestic violence as an act (or even a threat of an act) of violence upon another person with whom the attacker is involved domestically. It is important to note that domestic violence also accounts for any damage to physical property as a means of coercion, intimidation, or revenge. For example, if an angry spouse destroys his or her family’s automobile, this is considered domestic violence in Colorado.

Domestic Violence Among Non-Spouses

A common misconception is that domestic violence only occurs between spouses, but in reality, domestic violence laws encompass any abuse that occurs between members of the same household. While spousal domestic violence may be the most common, Colorado law protects children, relatives, and roommates who reside within the same household.

Types of Domestic Violence

In the conversation surrounding what is domestic violence, it is key to note that many forms of abuse can be considered domestic violence in Colorado. These different forms oftentimes occur simultaneously, with multiple forms of domestic violence happening at once. The following are examples of domestic violence.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the most easily identifiable form of domestic violence, as it can leave behind evidence of the occurrence. The following are examples of physical abuse:

  • Punching, grabbing, shoving, slapping, choking, and hair-pulling.
  • Denial of medical care.
  • The act of forcing drugs or alcohol onto an individual.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse refers to any unwanted sexual activity that was forced, without consent, on an individual. The following are examples of sexual abuse:

  • Unwanted touching.
  • Any form of penetration without consent.
  • Sexual contact with minors.
  • Rape.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is often difficult to identify due to its pervasive and sometimes subtle nature. It is common to see victims of emotional abuse who are unaware of the full extent of the violence. Examples of emotional abuse include:

  • Threatening the safety of an individual and/or an individual’s family members.
  • Shaming, humiliating, and/or name-calling.
  • Refusing to allow an individual to spend time alone.
  • Purposefully damaging an individual’s relationships and/or reputation.

Economic Abuse

Economic abuse refers to any situation wherein one individual has complete control over another’s finances, oftentimes rendering them financially dependent and/or unable to support themselves. This type of abuse is another way of controlling an individual, typically by forcing the individual to depend on the perpetrator financially.

Domestic Violence and Divorce

The issue of how domestic impacts divorce in Colorado takes a variety of different issues into consideration. Under Article 10 of Colorado’s Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act, any individual undergoing divorce proceedings must disclose the existence of any civil protection orders, any criminal protection orders, and/or any emergency protection orders that occurred within the past two years. The court will then advise the parties of domestic violence services and resources that are available to them. Evidence of any prior protection orders can largely impact the result of a divorce proceeding.

Orders of Protection in Colorado

In situations of domestic violence, victims are encouraged to seek an order of protection if possible. Regardless, Colorado district courts have the authority to issue an order of protection unilaterally. An order of protection can take a few forms:

Any individual who is a victim of domestic abuse is encouraged to remove both themselves and any children from the home unless otherwise explicitly instructed by the courts. The safety of the victim(s) is paramount, and the court will not penalize any individual who flees from an abusive situation. Consult an experienced attorney at Johnson Law Group to better understand all of your legal options, and ensure your rights remain protected.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody

The impact of domestic violence on divorce in Colorado largely centers around child custody. Article 10 of the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act states that children have the right to live in a home that is free of domestic violence and abuse. The court will consider several factors before making a decision in a divorce proceeding that involves domestic violence. An important factor to consider is whether domestic violence was committed against the child/children or the other parent.

Patterns of Domestic Violence

Consistent patterns of domestic violence can negatively impact the abusive spouse’s access to child custody. Nevertheless, Colorado courts will make a custody decision based on the child or children’s best interest. With the exception of extreme cases, courts will generally grant parenting time to both parents, even the abusive one. To alleviate the burden on the abused spouse, the court may arrange for alternative methods of communication. For example, pick-up and drop-off may occur in a public, supervised location in order to ensure the safety of all parties involved.

Supervised Visitation

If the abused parent raises concerns about the physical or emotional safety of the child, however, the allocated parenting time may be limited by the courts. For example, a court may order “supervised visitation,” wherein visitation may only take place in public, under the supervision of an authorized third party.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney

Each divorce proceeding is unique, and the manner in which domestic violence impacts divorce in Colorado is legally complex. Consider visiting with an experienced attorney at Johnson Law Group at (720) 463-4333 or (720) 730-4558 (text to chat) to help you better understand all of your options and protect the members of your household.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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