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Family & Divorce Law

Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First? (And Other Divorce FAQs)

By Tolison & Williams / April 13, 2020

Going through a divorce is never easy as it’s not something you can fully prepare for in advance. Surely, you will have a lot of woes and questions as the process moves forward. Remember that no question is ever too silly, and you should never be shy about asking!

Based on our years of family law practice, we created this quick FAQ addressing some of the common questions regarding the Colorado divorce process.

Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?

In general, the answer is no. It does not make any difference to the Colorado judges if you decide to take matters to the courtroom. 

However, there may be a few tactical advantages:

  • You will have your attorney upfront
  • You will be able to set the timeline,
  • Also, you could decide the jurisdiction for the process

The latter may be important if you are already legally separated and living in different states or counties. On the other hand, you will have the upfront costs of filing fees.

Remember that Colorado is a no-fault state, which means that you do not have to provide specific reasons for why you want the divorce or put blame on anyone. However, if you are giving specific reasons that involve wrong-doing on the part of your spouse, then you may want to file first.

What Documents Will I Need to File For a Divorce?

As a petitioner, you’ll need to complete several common forms and documents. These include the initial petition or response and will include such things as names, date of marriage, names of children, etc. The forms are self-explanatory.

Beyond that you will have to provide documentation to back up any specific complaints you may have, a financial statement, child support worksheets, a parenting plan, and your original marriage certificate.

If the divorce is complex and involves disagreements, your attorney will guide you through other documents you’ll need to produce.

Who Gets the House in the Divorce?

That depends. A house is usually considered marital property, though there are some legal exceptions. There are many individual circumstances that will affect how a judge divides things up, including the marital home. Your attorney can give the best advice on the matter. 

What is Divorce Arbitration?

In short, you have three ways to get a divorce in Colorado:

Arbitration is rather a last resort when the parties cannot agree on the divorce terms, but wish to keep the matters out of court. In this case, either can hire an arbitrator who makes the final decisions, and those decisions are legally binding.

What Can Make Me an Unfit Parent?

In general, a parent is considered unfit if they cannot meet the emotional or physical needs of their child, or if they have endangered that child’s well-being. This might include neglect, abuse, criminal activity, etc. Only a judge can make respective decisions and those are not taken lightly.

What is a Divorce Decree and Where Do I Get It?

The divorce decree is the final order of the judge. It includes a certificate of marriage dissolution and all of the terms of that dissolution. You can get a certified copy at the courthouse or order your copy online after your divorce is finalized.

Hopefully, this post provided you with some high-level information on the matter. And, please, do not let any question you may have, go unanswered! Divorce is a major change in your life and comes with plenty of stress. So reach out to a qualified family law attorney early on!

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Tags: Divorce

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