Anyone facing the possibility of divorce has a lot to worry about. You may be concerned about the cost of divorce, child custody, and the impacts of all this on your mental health. With COVID-19 added to the mix, the divorce proceedings can seem not just emotionally draining, but also physically risky. In addition, courts are now working in a limited capacity, so the divorce process may move slower.
Considering that so many regular chores — work, shopping, education, even healthcare to some extent — can be now managed online, you may be wondering if you can file for a divorce online in Colorado.
The short answer is no, state law does not currently allow you to get a full divorce online in Colorado, no matter what some online divorce service ads may claim. Most of those ads for online divorce are a bit misleading - such services won't allow you to complete the divorce process online. However, there are certain aspects of the divorce process that you can handle remotely on your own, such as:
- Divorce form filling and document preparation
- Divorce filing (with certain limitations)
- Legal consultations with divorce attorneys
How Can I File for an Online Divorce in Colorado?
Recently, the Colorado court announced a beta e-filing pilot for online divorces. This means you are eligible to submit your divorce forms and supporting documents through their website if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You are a legal resident in either of the next counties Teller, Arapahoe, El Paso, Moffat, Routt, Grand, or Larimer.
- You are self-filling your forms — your attorney cannot fill them online and submit for you.
- Your divorce case is uncontested. You and your spouse have already agreed on the terms of your separation and are jointly filling all the divorce papers online.
If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse cannot agree on the division of property, child custody, or other matters, then your divorce will have to proceed via traditional means through a contested divorce.
Can Any Other Part of The Divorce Process be Completed Online?
If you do not meet all of the above criteria, you cannot e-file for your divorce in Colorado. However, you can still get legal support online.
This includes remote assistance with divorce document filling and verification. A qualified family attorney can remotely help you fill out and double-check the forms you've downloaded from the court website.
Also, many lawyers now provide online case consultations via video conferencing apps (Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams). Such sessions can be as effective as in-person visits, plus they take the commute time out of the equation.
Lastly, to expedite your divorce process, you can file many of the required supporting documents via mail or fax. These include:
- Proof of income
- Lists of pre and post-marital assets
- Account and mortgage documentation
- Budget worksheets
- Parenting plan(s)
Which Parts of a Divorce Cannot Be Completed Online in Colorado
Unfortunately, all other steps of the divorce process cannot be handled online at the moment. Specifically, all of the following procedures are still conducted in-person and require the presence of all the participants:
- Divorce papers serving
- Hearings for temporary orders
- Mediation sessions
- Court appearances
However, some states such as Texas and Michigan recently implemented virtual court hearings. While this is not the case in Colorado yet, we can see the trend of the ongoing digitization happening in courts across the country - and it may hit Colorado soon.
Do I Still Need to Hire a Divorce Attorney?
If you’ve been on the fence about hiring an attorney, now may be a good time to take that step. A qualified attorney will be able to give you legal advice on the specifics of your case, even remotely, and explain how to file the paperwork online.
Further, they can consult you on how the COVID-19 related shutdowns will impact your divorce case. Your lawyer may even be able to handle the filing of the final decree of dissolution of your marriage without your presence being mandated. Get a free consultation with an award-winning Family Law Attorney today!