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Parker/Denver Separation Attorney
Steps to Filing for Divorce
Divorce & Custody Issues
Tom is a strong family man and he takes great pride in working with others who are committed to the health, welfare, and future of their loved ones. In a perfect world, families stay together forever. But, we don’t live in a perfect world. As strange as it may sound, divorce is sometimes the wisest course of action for husbands and wives who want what is ultimately best for those closest to them. When the family unit no longer serves the best interests of its members, tough choices may be necessary. Tom can help you understand all of the options available to you, advise you on the most prudent course of action relative to your goals, and navigate you through the often harsh and confusing legal system. Whether he is helping you iron out minor domestic relations issues, assisting you with the difficult prospect of divorce, or battling against a serious attack on your family and your life, Tom is dedicated to helping you find solutions with care and compassion. Tom doesn’t ignore the personalities, emotions, expectations and fears that are involved in every domestic relations case. You can only get a divorce in Colorado by going through the courts to legally dissolve your marriage. The process varies depending on whether you have minor children of the marriage or not. Obtaining a divorce can be confusing, and every divorce situation is different, but routinely follows a specific process outlined here:
Types of Petitions
- DOM: A “Dissolution of Marriage” is the term Colorado law and courts use to mean “divorce”.
- APR: “Allocation of Parental Responsibility” Similarly, when there is no marriage, but a child or children of relationship, custody is called APR under Colorado law.
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage/Legal Separation With or Without Children
This is the first step in obtaining a divorce and the process of dissolving the marriage. The parties can file as co-petitioners or one party will initiate and be known as the Petitioner the Other Party the Respondent. One party will file with the court. If you are seeking a Petition for Legal Separation the primary difference is, you are not divorced and are not legally able to marry another person. You are married but separated. Divorced means your marriage has been legally dissolved by the court.
Petition for Parental Responsibility
This is the first step in obtaining custody orders outlining parenting time, child support and all issues surrounding the children born of a relationship, without a marriage. Similar to a dissolution petition the parties can file as co-petitioners or one party will initiate and be known as the Petitioner the other party the Respondent. One party will file with the court. It is important to consult with a Colorado Divorce attorney in order to understand the process.
To start a divorce case, the following documents must be completed and filed with the courts by one party:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
- Case Information Sheet, and
- Summons to serve the other party if you are not filing the case together.
There is a filing fee to file for divorce. You will have to go to court for at least one initial appearance (called a status conference), and, depending on how complicated your case is and how much you and your spouse agree on, you may have other more formal court hearings in front of a judge.
Service of Process
The spouse who files the initial petition must provide proper documentation, the service of process, that their partner has been notified of the pending divorce. If the parties are amicable, the responding party can sign a waiver of service and avoid having to be served.
Once the divorce papers have been served, the court requires a response from the other party. Any property or child custody disputes need to be outlined in this document. 1st – Get legal advice to find out what your rights and responsibilities are. 2nd – DO NOT ignore your divorce! If you don’t at least respond to being “served paperwork”, the court has the right to make decisions for you without your input. If you live far away you can still participate in your case by asking the court for permission to appear at hearings over the phone. 3rd – if you feel safe communicating with your spouse, you should try to work out how you’re going to divide the property and debts of your marriage. If you have minor children, you and your spouse should try to work out how you’re going to provide for and spend time with them after your divorce. The court can make these decisions for you, but it is usually better to try to work out as many of these issues on your own since you and your spouse know your situation and family better than the judge will. 4th – if your spouse has hired an attorney, it is best to communicate through the attorney. 5th – if you don’t feel safe communicating with your spouse because of domestic violence in your relationship, get legal advice immediately.
Colorado divorce law, of course, does allow separated spouses to formalize their temporary living and parenting arrangements, and to structure their expense and debt sharing, and support obligations by agreement. Such formal agreements may be submitted by stipulation to the Colorado court for issuance of so-called “Temporary Orders.” If the parties cannot agree on how to maintain the status quo, the courts will conduct a temporary orders hearing and issue interim orders resolving financial and support issues on a temporary basis.
If there are any disputes between the divorcing parties these can be settled, or attempted to be settled, during the negotiation phase. Almost all, Colorado counties do require mediation before any contested court hearing. Of course, there are great advantages to mediating early in the process, before parties’ positions harden and workable options are foreclosed. Divorcing parties and couples with parenting issues generally are more motivated when they self-refer themselves to mediation as well. The mediation process can allow divorcing parties to discuss and attain their vision of a fair approach to divorce or co-parenting, which may result in a memorialized vision in a durable binding agreement, to be entered as a Court Order.
Permanent Orders Hearing
Permanent Orders hearing is the final hearing in the divorce or parental responsibility action. Some counties refer to the Permanent Orders hearing as the “Final Orders” hearing. If necessary, there could be a hearing to settle any disputes not resolved during the negotiation phase. Hearings typically cost both parties more money in the long run, since you have to pay your lawyer for more time, and the court’s rulings could be very different than expected.
Order of Dissolution
At the conclusion of a permanent orders hearing, the court will issue the Decree dissolving the marriage and or issue custody orders. This is the final order that officially ends the divorce or custody dispute. (Any necessary information about child custody, property, debts, spousal support, etc., will be denoted in this document). Tom firmly believes that not all divorces have to be contentious. In a recent interview about how he achieves such successful outcomes in his divorce cases, Tom stated, “My goal is not to stick my nose in these divorces and muck them up. I will help keep things as simple as possible for those who are able to be reasonable and civilized with each other.” Tom is ready to navigate you through the many stages of separation and divorce, from the initial stage of deciding to end a marriage to the closing stage of obtaining final orders. With Tom as your attorney, you have a wise and strong advocate by your side. During this difficult time, Tom’s help can make all the difference. We handle all family law matters including:
- Divorce & Separation
- Child Custody & Child Support
- Child Visitation
- Division of Finances & Property
- Support, Alimony & Maintenance
- Restraining Orders and Protection Orders
- Post-Decree Modifications
- Grandparent Rights
For a free consultation on these and other legal matters, send us a message, or call us at 303-840-2700 today.