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The Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment in Colorado

In Colorado, divorce is the permanent dissolution of a marriage, usually due to irreconcilable differences, while annulment is the formal termination of marriage declaring the marriage invalid. Divorce is effective from the day a divorce proceeding is finalized and a certificate of divorce issued. At the same time, an annulment is invalid from the date of the attempted marriage because it is as if the marriage never existed in the first place in the eye of the law. In Colorado, the Catholic Church and district court grant annulment of marriages. Even the Catholic Church can only proceed with an annulment hearing after the couple has been legally divorced in the court because only a court can issue a divorce decree.

What is a Colorado Divorce Decree?

According to C. R. S. 14–2–302(3), marital dissolution/divorce ends with a court decree. A court judge pronounces the divorce decree at the end of a divorce proceeding. A divorce certificate is usually issued afterward to the separating partners and is binding on both parties involved.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

What is an Annulment in Colorado?

In pursuance of C. R. S.14–10–103(2), an annulment refers to the declaration of marriage as invalid. It can be a civil annulment, that is, carried out in a court of law or an ecclesiastical annulment by a Catholic Church Annulment Tribunal in affiliation with a civil appellate court. Following C. R. S.14–10–111(2&3), a declaration of invalidity cannot be sought after the death of either party in a marriage, except there is a final resolution on the estate of either party after demise.

Annulment records are accessible by contacting the court clerk of the county/district court where the annulment was granted and paying the applicable fees. Requestors must be relatives or representatives of the couples involved in the annulment process and show proof of the relationship.

Annulment vs Divorce in Colorado

Annulment and divorce have a similarity in which both end a marital union. In Colorado, one or both parties having a divorce must have lived for 91 days in the state before filing at the court. For annulment, the two parties must have lived in Colorado for at least 30 days.

While one or both parties in a marriage can file a divorce, an annulment action can be filed by various parties, including either party involved in the marriage annulment, the parents of an underage party, the state, and the children of either party. Criteria for declaring a marriage invalid include;

  • Mental incapacitation resulting from illness or substance like drugs or alcohol.
  • Inability to consummate the marriage (impotence).
  • Age, child marriage with the absence of parents, guardian, or judicial consent/approval as provided by law.
  • Deception into marriage by fraudulent act or misrepresentation of the other party.
  • Coercion/duress of any form at the point of marriage.
  • One or both parties got married as a jest or dare.
  • Others are marriages that occurred before the dissolution of an earlier union (polygamy or bigamy), within certain degrees of kindred (including all forms of incestuous marriages), and marriages prohibited by local area laws.

For a case of divorce, according to C. R. S.14–10–106, the marriage must be irretrievably broken as this is the only criteria to grant a divorce.

Is an Annulment Cheaper Than Divorce In Colorado?

Although an annulment is relatively cheaper than divorce, it can be a more expensive option when contested. According to CRS 13–32–101(1)(a), the current filing fee for divorce and annulment petitions is $230. An annulment does not conclude swiftly (at least 18 months on average in ecclesiastical annulments) because the parties involved must prove that there are suitable grounds for the marriage’s invalidity.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Colorado?

An uncontested divorce is a type of divorce where both spouses agree on all disputing matters and divorce-related issues before filing a divorce petition. This, unlike a contested divorce, is easier to finalize because there are no tangible reasons that require a delay. An uncontested divorce is also referred to as a “decree upon affidavit,” which means that a court can grant the divorce without an appearance. According to the provisions, C. R.S 14–10 of the Colorado revised statutes, eligibility for an uncontested divorce requires spouses to;

  • Have lived in Colorado for about 90 days or more.
  • Have signed an agreement upon separation that covers property division and spousal support.
  • Have agreed that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
  • Ascertain that there are no minors and neither spouse is pregnant. If there are minors, an agreement that oversees child custody, visitation schedule, and child support must be in place.
  • Show that the other party has been served with the affidavit.

Where to Get an Uncontested Divorce Form in Colorado

In Colorado, spouses seeking divorce can obtain the forms online. However, the forms must be personally delivered to the court to initiate the process of an uncontested divorce. Spouses can begin filing by submitting an “affidavit for decree without the appearance of parties” in the district court. Both spouses can do this process as co-petitioners or individually as petitioner and respondent. If one party files the affidavit for the decree, the other party must receive a copy. After this, the judge will hold a hearing to certify the fulfillment of all requirements. Within the stipulated period of 90 days, a “decree of dissolution of marriage” will be issued.

Generally, divorce records are public records in Colorado. The Colorado open acts records provide that some divorce records may be sealed or redacted due to certain confidential information.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Get a Copy of my Divorce Decree in Colorado?

Divorce decrees are court documents containing spousal support, child support, property division, and visitation schedule. It also serves as the final judgment from the court. In cases where the divorce goes to trial, the divorce decree will spell out the terms and conditions that both parties must regard. The Colorado Department of Health and Environment document and maintain divorce decrees. These records are accessible physically at the office of the clerk of the court where the divorce was completed. Requesting parties are to;

  • Find the office of the clerk of court in the county where the divorce was finalized.
  • Submit in-person or mail requests to the office of the clerk of court.
  • Pay the appropriate fee.
  • Know information regarding the divorce, including the divorced party names, location of the divorce, and divorce date will be required to aid the search.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Do I Get a Colorado Divorce Decree Online?

Colorado divorce decrees are not obtainable online but physically at the office of the court clerk. Before inspecting these records, queriers must tender a valid means of identification and a justification of interest, and proof of relationship.

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