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14-10-120. Decree.

Statute text

(1) A decree of dissolution of marriage or of legal separation is final when entered, subject to the right of appeal. An appeal from the decree of dissolution that does not challenge the finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken does not delay the finality of that provision of the decree which dissolves the marriage beyond the time for appealing from that provision, so that either of the parties may remarry pending appeal.

(2) No earlier than one hundred eighty-two days after entry of a decree of legal separation, on motion of either party and proof that a notice has been mailed to the other party at his or her last-known address, the court shall convert the decree of legal separation to a decree of dissolution of marriage, and a copy thereof shall be mailed to both parties.

(3) The clerk of the court shall give notice of the entry of a decree of dissolution to the office of state registrar of vital statistics in the division of administration of the department of public health and environment, which office shall make this information available to the public upon request.

(4) No decree that may enter shall relieve a spouse from any obligation imposed by law as a result of the marriage for the support or maintenance of a spouse determined to be mentally incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction prior to the decree, unless such spouse has sufficient property or means of support.

(5) Whenever child support has been ordered, the decree of dissolution, legal separation, declaration of invalidity, allocating parental responsibilities, or support shall contain an order for an income assignment pursuant to section 14-14-111.5.

(6) Notwithstanding the entry of a final decree of dissolution of marriage or of legal separation pursuant to this section, the district court may maintain jurisdiction to enter such temporary or permanent civil protection orders as may be provided by law upon request of any of the parties to the action for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, including, but not limited to, any protection order requested pursuant to section 14-10-108.


Source: L. 71: R&RE, p. 528, 1. C.R.S. 1963: 46-1-20. L. 75: (3) R&RE, p. 585, 1, effective May 31; (4) amended, p. 925, 21, effective July 1. L. 77: (2) amended, p. 825, 1, effective May 26. L. 85: (5) added, p. 592, 11, effective July 1. L. 94: (5) amended, p. 1539, 6, effective May 31; (3) amended, p. 2731, 348, effective July 1. L. 96: (5) amended, p. 622, 31, effective July 1. L. 98: (5) amended, p. 1399, 44, effective February 1, 1999. L. 99: (6) added, p. 500, 2, effective July 1. L. 2003: (6) amended, p. 1012, 16, effective July 1. L. 2012: (2) amended, (SB 12-175), ch. 208, p. 831, 27, effective July 1.


Cross references: For the legislative declaration contained in the 1994 act amending subsection (3), see section 1 of chapter 345, Session Laws of Colorado 1994.





Law reviews. For article, "Income Tax on Alimony", see 30 Dicta 263 (1953).

Annotator's note. Since 14-10-120 is similar to repealed 46-1-7, C.R.S. 1963, 46-1-9, CRS 53, CSA, C. 56, 13 through 17, and laws antecedent thereto, relevant cases construing those provisions have been included in the annotations to this section.

The general assembly intended to eliminate the six-month delay for a decree of dissolution to become effective and intended to terminate the marital status of the parties immediately upon entry of the decree of dissolution. Estate of Burford v. Burford, 935 P.2d 943 (Colo. 1997).

This section permits a party to appeal the termination of the marital status only when the party challenges the district court's finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken or by raising a jurisdictional defect in the proceedings. Estate of Burford v. Burford, 935 P.2d 943 (Colo. 1997).

An unappealed decree of dissolution is final when entered to determine the status of the parties and that abatement does not occur should one party die after the decree is entered. Estate of Burford v. Burford, 935 P.2d 943 (Colo. 1997).

There was but one final decree in a divorce suit, although it may consist of different provisions, one for a dissolution of the marriage relation, another for security for the payment of alimony, and various other provisions embodied in the one instrument. Diegel v. Diegel, 73 Colo. 330, 215 P. 143 (1923).

No other decree was required to be entered than the interlocutory one which in a normal situation mechanically became final. Morris v. Propst, 98 Colo. 213, 55 P.2d 944 (1936); Rodgers v. Rodgers, 137 Colo. 74, 323 P.2d 892 (1958).

A court need not have entered a final decree reiterating or summarizing or tying together its previous orders including an interlocutory decree in Colorado. Rodgers v. Rodgers, 137 Colo. 74, 323 P.2d 892 (1958).

It may have been said that the interlocutory decree was a final order by express provision of the former statute, but, it was pertinent to observe that while the statute said that the interlocutory decree was a final order and therefore subject to review on writ of error, that it did not say that such order was a final decree of divorce. Doty v. Doty, 103 Colo. 543, 88 P.2d 573 (1939).

An unverified, unsupported motion to set aside an interlocutory decree of divorce was not a "motion or petition" within the meaning of the former section concerning the setting aside of interlocutory decrees. Morris v. Propst, 98 Colo. 213, 55 P.2d 944 (1936).

The prevailing party in a divorce action could not be compelled to permit a decree to become final against his express desire and over his objection. Faith v. Faith, 128 Colo. 483, 261 P.2d 255 (1953); McClanahan v. County Court, 136 Colo. 426, 318 P.2d 599 (1957).

Where the prevailing party in a divorce action moved to dismiss the same prior to the entry of a final decree, a trial court lacked jurisdiction to act in the case other than to dismiss the same. McClanahan v. County Court, 136 Colo. 426, 318 P.2d 599 (1957).

Decree of dissolution entered after a spouse's death is void for lack of jurisdiction, and the dissolution action is abated. In Re Connell, 870 P.2d 632 (Colo. App. 1994).

A reversal of the judgment of the trial court was had because of its refusal to grant plaintiff's motion to dismiss her divorce case after the entry of the interlocutory decree. Faith v. Faith, 128 Colo. 483, 261 P.2d 225 (1953).

Where it appears from a record and from the conduct of counsel that the parties agreed that a court would defer determination of permanent alimony, property settlement, and related matters until after the entry of a final decree of divorce, orders entered pursuant thereto were not void because not included in such decree, or the questions reserved therein. Rodgers v. Rodgers, 137 Colo. 74, 323 P.2d 892 (1958).

Where orders for permanent alimony and related matters were not included in the interlocutory decree, because a court had taken the matter under advisement, orders resulting therefrom were valid and remained in full force and effect, constituting a modification of the interlocutory decree and were merged in a final decree which recited upon the terms and conditions contained in the interlocutory decree or any modification of change thereof. Rodgers v. Rodgers, 137 Colo. 74, 323 P.2d 892 (1958).

Provision in agreement incorporated into dissolution decree which required a father to pay a daughter's medical bills until the daughter was "gainfully employed" was not ambiguous and required that the employment of the daughter be self-supporting, rather than remunerative, in order to terminate the father's obligations. In re Norton, 757 P.2d 1127 (Colo. App. 1988).

The former section relating to the entry of an interlocutory decree in a divorce action within 48 hours after close of a trial, or the return of a verdict, was directory and not mandatory or jurisdictional. Kemper v. Kemper, 140 Colo. 367, 344 P.2d 449 (1959).

Formerly, the necessity for the lapse of six months and the entry of a final decree was just as essential to the power of a court to order a division of property, as to authorize it to enter a final decree. McCoy v. McCoy, 139 Colo. 105, 336 P.2d 302 (1959).

A writ of error in a divorce case was not dismissible on the ground that it was not filed within six months after the issuance of the interlocutory decree. Simmons v. Simmons, 107 Colo. 78, 108 P.2d 871 (1940).

However, notice of a motion to vacate an interlocutory decree of divorce, served upon the administrator of the estate of successful party after the latter's death and after the expiration of the six-month period designated by statute, was futile and without effect. Morris v. Propst, 98 Colo. 213, 55 P.2d 944 (1936).

Where the wife's lien was created by the judgment of the court in a divorce action based upon the stipulation of the parties, the judgment became final and where a subsequent order of abatement terminated the proceedings relative to the motion which the husband had filed to reduce the payments to the wife, it had no effect upon the final judgment which created the lien. Willis v. Neilson, 32 Colo. App. 129, 507 P.2d 1106 (1973).

C.R.C.P. 59(e) specifies that a party may move to alter or amend a judgment by a motion filed not later than 10 days after entry of judgment; therefore, where appellate filed such a motion within the allotted time, and the trial court subsequently did amend its judgment pursuant to such motion and the supplemental motion, the original court's judgment never became final, and it was not enforceable by either divorced party with respect to his or her property rights, because it did not create an enforceable right either in the husband or in his estate to take a divided share of the joint tenancy property. Sarno v. Sarno, 28 Colo. App. 598, 478 P.2d 711 (1970).

Order under C.R.C.P. 54(b) authorized. Section 14-10-105, providing that the Colorado rules of civil procedure apply to dissolution proceedings except as "otherwise specifically provided" in the act, and this section, providing that a decree of dissolution of marriage is "final" when entered, subject to the right of appeal, authorize the trial court to enter an order pursuant to C.R.C.P. 54(b) making the decree final for purposes of appeal. In re Baier, 39 Colo. App. 34, 561 P.2d 20 (1977).

Appealability of decree on entry of such order. Upon the entry of an order under C.R.C.P. 54(b) a decree of dissolution of marriage may be appealed prior to entry of permanent orders on the issues of child custody, support, and division of property. In re Baier, 39 Colo. App. 34, 561 P.2d 20 (1977).

Stay of decree pending appeal. When an appeal is taken from the finding that the marriage is "irretrievably broken", the finality of the decree dissolving the marriage may be stayed upon an appropriate motion duly made. In re Franks, 189 Colo. 499, 542 P.2d 845 (1975).

Where a decree in a divorce action ordering title to real property to remain in joint tenancy, and granting the right to possession and income therefrom to the wife, had become final and the time for appeal had expired, the decree could not be reversed by the supreme court. McDonald v. McDonald, 150 Colo. 492, 374 P.2d 690 (1962).

Dissolution decree severing joint tenancy upheld, even though documents conveying house into tenancy in common were not executed. Cannon v. Waddell, 642 P.2d 520 (Colo. App. 1981).

Where the record on error in a divorce action contained no reporter's transcript, the supreme court had no means of reviewing the evidence; hence, the findings and judgment of a trial court were presumed to be supported by the evidence. Schleiger v. Schleiger, 137 Colo. 279, 324 P.2d 370 (1958).

Erroneous divorce decree valid and binding. Although divorce decree was an erroneous judgment, until modified by the court which entered it, or set aside on motion for new trial, or until reversed by an appellate court on direct review proceedings, it was valid and binding. McLeod v. Provident Mut. Life Ins. Co., 186 Colo. 234, 526 P.2d 1318 (1974).

The validity of the arbitration agreement is not governed by the characterization of the proceeding as one for legal separation or for dissolution of marriage. While the agreement for binding Rabbinical arbitration was entered into in the context of a legal separation proceeding that was later dismissed, its validity and application to the current dissolution of marriage proceeding between the same parties is not affected. In re Popack, 998 P.2d 464 (Colo. App. 2000).

For appeals procedure in divorce cases under early laws, see Daniels v. Daniels, 9 Colo. 133, 10 P. 657 (1886); Mercer v. Mercer, 13 Colo. App. 237, 57 P. 750 (1899); Mercer v. Mercer, 27 Colo. 216, 60 P. 349 (1900); Eickhoff v. Eickhoff, 27 Colo. 380, 61 P. 225 (1900); Eickhoff v. Eickhoff, 29 Colo. 295, 68 P. 237 (1902); Carlton v. Carlton, 44 Colo. 27, 96 P. 995 (1908); Dickinson v. Dickinson, 46 Colo. 351, 104 P. 414 (1909); Rudolph v. Rudolph, 50 Colo. 243, 114 P. 977 (1911); Prewitt v. Prewitt, 52 Colo. 522, 122 P. 766 (1912); Harrington v. Harrington, 58 Colo. 154, 144 P. 20 (1914); Gill v. Gill, 59 Colo. 40, 148 P. 264 (1915); Boyd v. Boyd, 63 Colo. 157, 164 P. 703 (1917); Chamberlain v. Chamberlain, 66 Colo. 562, 185 P. 354 (1919); Kurtz v. Kurtz, 70 Colo. 20, 196 P. 530 (1921); Hobbs v. Hobbs, 72, Colo. 190, 210 P. 398 (1922); Diegel v. Diegel, 73 Colo. 330, 215 P. 143 (1923); Perry v. Perry, 74 Colo. 106, 219 P. 221 (1923); Miller v. Miller, 74 Colo. 143, 219 P. 783 (1923); Unzicker v. Unzicker, 74 Colo. 211, 220 P. 495 (1923); Fowler v. Fowler, 74 Colo. 231, 220 P. 988 (1923); Diebold v. Diebold, 76 Colo. 255, 230 P. 605 (1924); Hultquist v. Hultquist, 77 Colo. 260, 236 P. 777 (1925); Lednum v. Lednum, 78 Colo. 57, 239 P. 877 (1925); Weston v. Weston, 79 Colo. 478, 246 P. 790 (1926); Ikeler v. Ikeler, 82 Colo. 278, 260 P. 104 (1927); Taylor v. Taylor, 85 Colo. 65, 273 P. 878 (1928); Blackmer v. Blackmer, 87 Colo. 173, 286 P. 114 (1930); Laizure v. Baker, 91 Colo. 48, 11 P.2d 560 (1932); Hayhurst v. Hayhurst, 91 Colo. 58, 11 P.2d 804 (1932); Pierce v. Pierce, 97 Colo. 39, 46 P.2d 748 (1935).