Colorado Divorce and Adultery

April 30, 2011

While driving to work through the suburbs of Denver one morning this week, I heard a story on the radio regarding the Colorado Legislature and the repeal, or potential repeal, of Colorado criminal statutes regarding adultery. I then got to thinking about Colorado divorce law and adultery. If I had a nickle for every time a client or potential client raised the issue of his or her spouse cheating, I would be a rich man.

Though infidelity is a horrible thing for one spouse to do to the other (or the children), the reality in Colorado divorce law is that, for most purposes, adultery doesn't matter. It makes for great headlines, such as with Tiger Woods. Though his infidelity wrecked his marriage, and unfortunately his golf game, it would have had no bearing on his Colorado divorce case.

Colorado is a "no fault" divorce state. In essence, this means that one does not need to state a specific reason why he or she wants a divorce or prove anything, such as adultery. As such, adultery is essentially irrelevant in a Colorado divorce case. Judges don't want to hear about it, unless it is relevant to another aspect of your divorce case.

Adultery can be tangentially relevant in generally three circumstances in a Colorado divorce. Adultery can matter in an instance in which a person is cheating and spending or wasting marital money on their mistress or mister, such as buying him or her jewelry, or for clandestine vacations to Las Vegas. In such instances, the infidelity can matter in terms of the mixing and matching of marital assets and debts. Another instance in which adultery may matter is if one spouse, though not necessarily buying items for his/her mistress/mister, is spending marital funds to support her/him. In such an instance, the cheating spouse's ability to provide funds to support his mistress may harm him in a battle over alimony and his ability to support his wife. If he can support his mistress, certainly he could pay alimony to support his wife.

The last area in which adultery may be relevant relates to the children. In this day and age, people sometimes have a new significant other before the divorce is even done. Without passing judgment, I will state that courts can get concerned with infidelity if one spouse is bringing his or her new special friend around the children in such a manner that confuses them, or is carrying on in an inappropriate manner around the kids.

Beyond the above stated, adultery, though certainly wrong, just doesn't matter in a Denver area divorce court. I've seen too many crying people (women and men) looking for some sort of vindication for their broken hearts. I wish the family law attorneys in our Denver area firm could tell them something different, but we can't. There are states in which it matters to the courts, just not ours.