Is a DUI Grounds for Divorce In Colorado?

Is a DUI Grounds for Divorce In Colorado?

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Is a DUI Grounds For Divorce In Colorado?

Experiencing the break up of a marriage is an emotionally fraught and sometimes traumatic time. Divorcing spouses may drown their sorrows or act out by enjoying late nights at popular clubs, but choosing to get behind the wheel while intoxicated is not only a crime and a danger to others, but it also can have a substantial impact on your divorce terms.

But is a DUI grounds for divorce in Colorado?

Legal Grounds for Divorce in Colorado

Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. Years ago, spouses had to prove legal grounds for divorce such as adultery or abandonment. Today, the only allowable grounds for divorce is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

If one spouse has a DUI conviction before the divorce or during the divorce process, the spouse cannot use the DUI as grounds for divorce because they don’t need grounds beyond the broken marriage.

This doesn’t mean that a DUI won’t impact the divorce. In fact, there are several ways a conviction for drunk driving affects the divorce process and the final judgment.

A DUI Could Impact Child Custody

Although a single DUI conviction isn’t likely to cause a parent to lose their right to shared custody, it does open the door to further scrutiny by a judge in the divorce case. Your spouse’s attorney—and the judge—will investigate the parent’s criminal history.

A history of previous DUIs, other crimes, and any known history of substance abuse is highly likely to have an impact on a judge’s child custody decision.

Courts make all decisions in the best interests of the children and living with a parent with a substance abuse problem is not in a child’s best interest.

The parent won’t lose all access to the children but may be limited to supervised visits until they can show they’ve successfully completed a treatment program and gained sobriety.

If the children were in the parent’s vehicle when the DUI occurred, a judge is almost certain to restrict the parent to supervised visitation only.

Other Impacts of a DUI on a Colorado Divorce

No time is ever a good time for a DUI, but DUI charges during divorce can be devastating, and a conviction is even worse. The potential impacts of a DUI during divorce include the following:

  • Defending against a DUI conviction means the spouse has expensive legal costs for a criminal defense attorney in addition to the expenses of a Colorado divorce lawyer
  • A DUI conviction comes with expensive fines
  • A conviction for DUI in Colorado can impact the ability to earn a living if the conviction comes with jail time, potentially impacting the division of assets, including a greater amount of assets going to the other spouse due to the incarcerated spouse’s inability to contribute to child support or pay spousal support
  • DUI convictions result in license suspension so even without a jail sentence, the conviction makes it difficult to make it to attorney meetings, court dates, and supervised visits with children
  • A DUI conviction comes with probation, community service, and mandatory treatment programs that impact the spouse’s schedule and ability to earn a living

While a DUI isn’t grounds for a divorce in Colorado or elsewhere, the conviction has a significant effect on divorce proceedings, child custody, a judge’s decisions, and the spouse’s ability to move forward successfully after the divorce. If you need assistance with filing for a divorce from an ex-spouse who repeatedly gets DUIs, contact a Denver divorce lawyer from Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. today.