When your marriage does not work out, the mounting paperwork is the last thing you want to deal with. However, filing the right documents at the right time and knowing your rights is essential to make the divorce process less stressful and emotionally draining. This post outlines the key steps of getting a divorce in Colorado.
The divorce process starts with filling a divorce petition. One party (the petitioner) writes this document and serves it on their spouse. If you have an established domicile in Colorado for at least 90 days, you will need to file the petition to a local court, even if your marriage was registered in another state.
The petition should include essential information about your union:
- Full name of husband, wife and children (if any).
- List of all separate and community property.
- Child custody and child/spousal support.
- There’s no need to include a “fault” in your petition. Simply state that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
The other party has 21 days to file a written response to your divorce petition. If your divorce is uncontested, ask a Denver divorce attorney (or a local expert) to draft a settlement agreement with your spouse and file a joint petition to the court. In this case, you will not have to attend any hearings. Note that Colorado divorce law mandates a 91-day statutory waiting period before your divorce becomes final.
If you cannot reach a settlement with your spouse, you will have to take matters further to the court. Within 42 days of receiving a divorce petition, you will be called to attend an Initial Status Conference held by a judge or a “family court facilitator." At this point, you should have a trusted attorney by your side to help you lead the negotiations. During this period, you and your spouse will be asked to disclose and exchange all the financial information regarding your assets (bank accounts, real estate retirement savings), liabilities (debt), income and monthly expenses.
What To Expect At The First Divorce Hearing
The first divorce hearing or Initial Status Conference is scheduled to discuss administrative matters such as dates of future hearings. In Colorado, such meetings are mostly informal and held outside the courtroom. You will be asked to present the major issues in your case:
- Outline preferred child custody arrangement and visitation rights.
- Discuss child support obligations.
- Propose a property division plan.
- Request alimony.
Depending on whether you agree on most issues or not, the court will decide on additional measures. You may be asked to go through divorce mediation or attend mandatory parenting classes. The court will also hear requests for temporary orders and help establish custody and visitation schedule while the divorce is pending.
Temporary Orders Hearing
After the Initial Status Conference is held and financial disclosures are filed, there may be Temporary Order hearings. These serve to arrange for temporary financial support for either party or their children during the divorce proceedings. Temporary orders will stay in place until the divorce is settled or your case goes to trial.
Permanent Orders Hearings
In Colorado, divorce trials are called "Permanent Orders" hearings. They are scheduled when you and your spouse cannot agree in certain aspects of your divorce during earlier stages. In this case, Colorado court will hear evidence from both sides and make the final ruling. Divorce trials can be lengthy and come at a high emotional toll. You will need to have an experienced family law attorney by your side to help you navigate through the discovery stage and prepare you for divorce depositions.
After the hearings, the judge will issue permanent orders concerning child support, visitation, alimony, and property division and a decree of dissolution of your marriage. You will become officially divorced and bound to comply with the issued divorce decrees.
Divorce hearings can stretch on and become heated if your spouse is unwilling to cooperate. Partnering with a family law attorney experienced in both trial practice and divorce preparation is essential to resolve your divorce case as smoothly as possible. Get in touch with Tolison & Williams today to arrange a free consultation.