Divorcing in Colorado is relatively straightforward, as long as each step is followed and respected. While these guidelines can be helpful in understanding the process, each divorce case is unique, these are simply guidelines and do not constitute as legal advice or counsel. Here are common steps to expect when going through the divorce process in Colorado. Note: To get a divorce in Colorado, one spouse must be a resident for 91 days, and there is a 91 day waiting period before the divorce will be finalized.
1) Initial Petition for Divorce: Both parties or one person must file in Colorado
a. At least one person from either party must file for divorce in the State of Colorado.
b. One spouse must have resided in Colorado for 91 days prior to filing for divorce.
2) Review All Divorce Documents from the Court:
These divorce documents will include orders for potential parenting classes, documentation necessary to bring or submit, and the date for your Initial Status Conference.
3) Personal Service and Proof of Service:
If filing separately, both a Personal Service and Proof that all documents have been provided must be submitted to the court.
4) Complete All Colorado Divorce Forms:
Certificate of Compliance, Financial Statement, Separation Agreement, Parenting Plan, Decree, Support Order, Pretrial Statement, and potentially a Child Support Worksheet.
5) Initial Status Conference:
This is the first appearance before the Court; the Certificate of Compliance and the Financial statements are submitted.
6) Divorce Mediation:
If there are any contested issues involved in the divorce, the Court may require that mediation take place before the final hearing.
7) Final Divorce Hearing:
Contested issues will be heard and decided on by the Court.
8) Dissolution of Marriage:
This is the last step, where the court will file any Support Orders and your Decree.
Additional steps involved in the divorce process include:
Representation in Divorce Court
You can file for a divorce and represent yourself in divorce court throughout proceedings or you can hire a divorce attorney to handle the process for you. While it may be less expensive to represent yourself, hiring a divorce attorney has many benefits. An attorney can help you answer the questions you have about how to get a divorce in Colorado. To help you decide, here are the benefits to hiring an attorney or to going it alone.
Benefits of Hiring a Divorce Attorney
- Help navigating what is most likely a foreign process to you. Your divorce attorney has represented many clients just like you through the divorce process. They know the court system well and how to perfectly complete the Colorado divorce papers and forms.
- Objective divorce advice during what might be an emotional time. An attorney can be an unbiased party for you to help ensure you receive favorable terms in your divorce process. A divorce attorney can also help negotiate with the other party so that you don’t have to.
- Professional advice and experience for dissolution of marriage Colorado forms. You can remove the headaches and frustration of completing the many divorce forms necessary by hiring an attorney to handle it for you. Your divorce attorney knows how to file for divorce in Colorado and will make the process much less painful and time-consuming.
Benefits of Representing Yourself in Divorce
- The main benefit of representing yourself in divorce court is to save some money. The thing you need to keep in mind is that you may receive less favorable terms to your divorce without an attorney. This means your cost of hiring a divorce attorney could be offset by cost savings from unfavorable divorce terms depending on how complicated your case is.
- The ability to keep your personal matters to yourself. If you’re a highly personal individual, you can keep information about your income and details of your divorce between just you and the courts. However, your relationship with your attorney is completely confidential. Realize that whatever you would tell a divorce attorney would never be disclosed without your consent.
If you’re in the midst of a divorce and have decided you no longer wish to represent yourself, you can hire a divorce attorney to help you through the remainder of your case.
Filing/Serving of Divorce Papers
Filing your divorce forms is what comes next in the steps to a divorce. The process looks different depending on whether you have chosen to represent yourself or if you have hired a divorce attorney.
Representing Yourself in Divorce
Once you’ve completed the forms listed in the previous section, you’re ready to file them with the court. You will print and take these forms to the clerk on duty at the courthouse in Colorado where you are filing for divorce. The clerk may request that you complete additional paperwork based off of your filing. At this time, you should be prepared to pay the fee for filing for your divorce in Colorado. If you cannot afford it, the clerk will request that you complete Colorado divorce form JDF 205 to prove your financial situation. Once all paperwork is filed, you’re now prepared to serve your spouse with a proof of service. You are not permitted to personally serve the paperwork to your spouse. You can choose to have the Sheriff’s Department or a private process server deliver them for you for a fee. You can avoid paying a fee by having a disinterested party serve the forms for you and have your spouse sign off on the Affidavit of Service showing that the divorce forms were received. Additionally, you can get your spouse to sign off on the divorce paperwork by having the forms mailed. If this is possible, you would include a Waiver and Acceptance of Service form in your mailing that your spouse must sign off on to prove acceptance of service. This can be simple in the case of an uncontested divorce in Colorado.
Divorce Attorney Representation
Your attorney can file for divorce in Colorado for you. This means that they will handle the process of filing all necessary paperwork and responding to any requests for additional information or forms that the courts may request. Having a divorce attorney coordinate serving the forms to your spouse can take some serious stress off of you. An attorney can hire an individual to complete the process and handle any difficulties throughout. It may be hard to get your spouse to accept the paperwork and you don’t want to have to be the one to continue to coordinate those efforts.
Key Issues in Divorce
One of the many crucial steps for a divorce is to get on the same page with the other party about key divorce issues. Some divorces are smooth where both parties have discussed and agreed to the terms of the divorce. Others are more complicated where the two parties do not see eye to eye and want different things from the divorce proceedings. Issues that can get emotional or challenging during divorce include:
- Child custody: it could be that both parties want full custody of the child or children involved in the divorce or that neither want to be fully responsible for the child. Having a divorce attorney and the court system handle the negotiations can make the process less emotional and seamless for both parties. That’s because an attorney and the courts know the right questions to ask to find a child custody scenario that benefits all parties involved, most especially the children.
- Child support: in some cases, you may be asked to pay more in child support than is truly feasible for you. Or if you have custody of your child, the amount your ex-spouse is paying in child support may not be enough to keep up with the day-to-day expenses of raising your child. Whatever the case may be, a divorce attorney in your area, such as Denver or Colorado Springs, can be especially helpful in ensuring the right child support arrangement.
- Division of property: this can be an especially tricky aspect of divorce. You only have one home and two parties involved in a divorce. There are many items you’ve shared that may have significance or appeal to both of you. This can make separation especially difficult and can make for some heated disagreements during divorce proceedings. Your attorney can ensure just division of property so you get your due.
- Alimony: another aspect of finances, alimony can be life-changing. You could be required to pay alimony (now known as spousal maintenance) or receive it depending on your situation and personal finances. Regardless of whether you’re on the receiving or paying end of alimony, you want to ensure it’s fair and allows you to continue your lifestyle as it was before. That’s where a divorce attorney can be greatly beneficial.
Q: What’s the difference between divorce and annulment?
A: When the court decides that a marriage is invalid, an annulment is granted. This is quite different from divorce, which refers to legal dissolution of a marriage not an invalidation.
Q: What’s the difference between divorce and legal separation?
A: In legal separation, the spouses are still technically married but are living as individual persons free from any financial obligations. Divorce is the legal dissolution of marriage where the spouses are no longer married.
Q: How much does divorce cost in Colorado?
A: The typical cost of divorce in Colorado averages around $14,500. Depending on your needs, it could be as little as $4,500 to as much as $32,000. If there are no children involved, the cost for a divorce might be lower.
Q: Who gets the house in a divorce?
A: In Colorado, the equitable distribution method is followed. Any property acquired during the marriage belongs to whoever earned it dividing the property as equally and fair as possible by looking at multiple determinant factors to make the best decision.
Q: What percent of U.S. marriages end in divorce?
A: The current divorce rate for all marriages of all age groups in the U.S. sits around 50%. However, the chance of divorce isn’t uniformly the same for all couples; the statistics differ for first-time marriages compared to higher-order marriages.