When you go through a divorce, there are so many things to consider. Whether or not you have children, shared assets, joint debt, and other factors will play a role in how things unfold during your divorce. But being a legal procedure, a divorce still has a certain structure to it. In this post, we offer a step-by-step overview of the divorce process in Colorado.
1. Submit a Petition For Dissolution of Marriage
When people say they “filed for divorce”, this is what they mean. If you and your spouse both agree that you will be getting a divorce, you can file the petition for dissolution of marriage with the court jointly. If not you, may file on your own, and your spouse will be served the paperwork.
This is a mandatory procedural step that essentially starts your divorce process. To complete it you’ll need to download the necessary divorce forms, fill them in, and submit them to the court. You can also have a family law attorney do that for you.
2. Serving Divorce Papers on Your Spouse
Even if your spouse is aware of the upcoming divorce, they will still need to be served with the divorce papers. Serving means handing them a copy of the completed divorce forms, checked and reviewed by the court clerk.
In Colorado, you have several ways you can legally serve your spouse — by mail, by asking any third-party over the age of 18, through a lawyer, or through a professional process server.
3. Provide Financial Disclosures
The court must examine your finances before making any decisions regarding the division of marital assets. Thus, you and your spouse must provide financial disclosures to the court within 42 days of filing for divorce.
The information you may be asked to provide includes:
- Bank statements
- Real estate ownership
- Any other asset ownership
4. Attend The Initial Status Conference
The court clerkship office sets the date for the initial status conference date when filing for divorce. It's set within 40 days after your petition is accepted. If your spouse has filed, check with the court clerk to determine your ISC date.
By the time of this meeting, you’d need to prepare:
- Financial disclosures
- Initial separation agreement
- Any extra forms asked to provide during filling
An initial status conference is when you will present any issues you have to the court. It’s not a formal hearing, but rather than opportunity to provide some details of your case.
If your divorce is uncontested and you already have a settlement, the proceedings may end at this stage. The court may decide on granting you a divorce without any further appearances.
The remaining steps are only necessary when there is a need to settle unresolved disputes.
5. Temporary Orders Hearing
Temporary orders hearings are optional and depend on your personal circumstances. You can file a petition for a temporary order if pre-divorce decisions need to be made. Or better — ask your attorney to do so.
The judge will review these and grant a temporary decision prior to the divorce being finalized. For example, they may issue a temporary child support order.
Discovery is an information-gathering process. It’s a meeting scheduled by the attorneys on both sides to exchange documents and evidence. They may also issue interrogatories — a list of questions that must be answered honestly under penalty of perjury by another party. The purpose of Discovery is to collect information for further presentation to the judge.
Mediation is optional but highly recommended. Colorado courts often encourage couples to work with a professional mediator to resolve divorce issues, instead of settling them in the courtroom. Any decision reached during mediation will become a permanent order when the divorce is finalized.
8. Permanent Orders Hearing
When things cannot be resolved in mediation, divorcing couples will attend a permanent orders hearing. This is essentially a ‘divorce trial’. Both sides will present their cases, and the judge will make the final determination.
The end result of this hearing is that the divorce is finalized. All orders regarding child support, custody, and division of assets/debts will be recorded as permanent court orders.
Getting A Divorce Attorney
Divorce is stressful enough. Thankfully the state of Colorado has created a somewhat predictable framework for getting a divorce. This helps everyone involved to know what is going to happen next. Just keep in mind that this is not a one-size-fits-all process. That's why most people hire a family law attorney to help them navigate each step. Request a free consultation today to see how Tolison and WIlliams can help!