Divorce petition filing is never an easy choice after you determine that your marriage shouldn’t continue or if your spouse has made the decision to file, depending on the situation, you could have a lot of questions. This is due to the fact that, at least from a legal standpoint, the divorce procedure in Castle Rock might be a complicated one.
As provided, as each step is followed and respected, getting a divorce in Colorado is rather simple. These are only recommendations and do not represent legal advice or counsel; however, they might be useful in understanding the process because every divorce case is different. Here are some typical stages you might anticipate while getting a divorce in Colorado.
The Basics of Divorce in Colorado
Every divorce in Colorado is referred to as a “dissolution of marriage proceeding” by the courts and attorneys. As long as they have lived in the state legally for at least 91 days, either partner may initiate a divorce.
The person who files has no advantages or disadvantages in the perspective of the Court. In other words, whether you started the divorce or not won’t affect how much money you receive, but depending on your circumstances, there may be benefits and drawbacks to filing for divorce at different times. Once the case is filed, a number of orders are put in place to try to preserve the parties’ current situation.
State-specific divorce laws exist. Colorado has “no-fault” divorce laws, in contrast to many states in the South. Thus, neither side is required to provide a scriptural or moral justification for the breakdown of the marriage. The usual norm is that in a divorce, the parties’ “fault” throughout the marriage will not be taken into consideration when dividing the assets, however, there may be some extenuating circumstances.
However, it’s crucial to consult a Colorado divorce attorney who is knowledgeable about the nuances of the legislation, including various other factors that are connected come into play, including participation and Disproportionate asset allocation.
While cases can be settled at any time and the Court only needs 91 days after the divorce petition was filed to recognize any final agreement made, the majority of divorces in Colorado take between six months and a year to complete.
If both parties can accurately determine the values of the various assets and if they are able to come to a broad understanding about how parenting will progress during the separation process, things typically move swiftly.
How To File Divorce In Colorado
Despite having to worry about the numerous paperwork and criteria necessary for divorce, the process is already stressful enough. However, depending on the specific situation, getting a divorce in Colorado doesn’t have to be a disaster.
There are three fundamental techniques to initiate a divorce:
You can obtain the necessary forms, complete them on your own, file the paperwork, and carry out the subsequent actions.
Use an online divorce agency that will offer the forms and finish them for you to simplify matters a little (based on your answers to a questionnaire). Some of these businesses will also submit your divorce paperwork on your behalf (for an extra fee).
Hiring a divorce lawyer
As an alternative, you might let a lawyer handle all of the paperwork and filings along with the other legal aspects of your divorce.
Your decision between any of these alternatives will be influenced by the specifics of your divorce as well as your financial and time constraints. The DIY divorce alternative is the least expensive, but it does involve some preparation and close thoroughness to ensure that you have adhered to all of Colorado’s laws and regulations.
Residency Requirements for Divorce In Colorado
You or your partner really should have lived in Colorado for at least 91 days prior to filing your preliminary divorce petition in order to become eligible for a divorce (or “dissolution”).
However, you cannot file a divorce in Colorado that addresses any child custody issues until the children have lived in the state with a parent for at least 182 days (or if a child is fewer than six months old, since birth). Although if you have a consensus regarding those topics, this is still true (more on that below). This is because the divorce settlement might have to include your agreement.
Filing Your Colorado Divorce Papers
Consider making two copies of the forms (one for the judge and one for each partner) when you have completed them, and then present them for submission to the court clerk’s office in the county in which you and your partner reside. You can also use Colorado’s eFiling system to submit your divorce documents electronically.
If the application was prepared jointly, any of you may handle the filing. If not, the applicant will take this action.
A filing fee must be paid when you turn in the paperwork. You can divide the filing fee, which is $230 as of late 2021, if you’re filing jointly. Ask the clerk to request a Motion to File Without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit if you are unable to make the payment (Form JDF 205). After reviewing your affidavit, the judge will decide whether or not to waive the charge. If a waiver is not available to you, you might well be capable of paying the amount over time.
Your documentation will be copied and file-stamped by the court clerk while the original is kept by the Court. If you didn’t file jointly, ensure the summons is signed by the clerk.
A case management order, which details further requirements, due dates, and paperwork you must complete, will also be provided to you by the clerk.
Also, read: Grandparent’s rights in Colorado.
Colorado’s Requirements for Serving and Responding to Divorce Papers
Make absolutely sure that each one of you has a copy of the documentation if you simultaneously file the divorce application. If not, you will need to provide your partner with the petition’s paperwork right away as the petitioner. This can be done in a variety of ways.
- You may just hand over or mail the documentation if your partner agrees to forego formal service. However, you must file the Waiver and Acceptance of Service form (JDF 1102(a)) with the Court, and your partner must sign it in front of a notary public or court clerk. You, therefore, should make these preparations in advance to avoid having to visit the Court.
- You must make arrangements for a process server to personally deliver the divorce documents to your spouse (or your spouse’s attorney) without a waiver. Any adult over the age of 18 who is not a party to the divorce may serve as a process server, including sheriffs, private process servers, and others. The Court or you should get a returned Return of Service form (JDF 1102(b) from the process server (in which case you will need to file the form with the Court).
- If you’ve attempted to serve your spouse individually but have been unsuccessful, you may ask the Court for authorization to do so by placing a notification in your community’s newspaper. When your spouse is serving in the military, incarcerated, or abroad, there may be other rules that apply. For rules on service in these particular circumstances, check with the court clerk.
If you haven’t performed service within nine weeks of filing, the Court will typically dismiss your divorce petition (although the window may be prolonged for a good cause).
The respondent spouse has 21 days from the date of service of the divorce papers to submit a response, or 35 days if service was made by publication or outside of the state. The response requires a filing cost of $116.
Next Steps in Your Colorado Divorce
You and your spouse must share specific financial details soon after filing for divorce (including their income, assets, debts, and monthly expenses). The compulsory exchange of papers is specified in the Mandatory Disclosure – Form 35.5 (JDF 1125). Then, each of you must finish the forms below.
- a Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosures (JDF 1104)
- a Sworn Financial Statement (JDF 1111), and
- if applicable in your case, Supporting Schedules for Assets (JDF 1111SS).
After the divorce petition has been served or after the joint petition has been filed, you both have 42 days to file this paperwork with the Court. Make sure you’ve acquired all the data necessary to accurately and complete fill out the forms. Giving incorrect information could result in a fine or possibly jail time, as well as the reopening of your divorce process.
The Separation Agreement form (JDF 1115), which contains your agreements for spousal support, property distribution, and debt allocation, should also be filed if your divorce is uncontested.
Additionally, you must file your Parenting Plan (JDF 1113) and Child Support Worksheets if you have minor children. (Using the child support calculator provided by the Court, you can immediately determine the amount required by Colorado’s child support guidelines.) You can also be required to finish a parenting course. You can get more details and deadlines by checking your case management order.
Case Management and Court Orders
The act of setting hearings and court dates while compiling the appropriate data is referred to as case management. Depending on the county you reside in, this is frequently accomplished through a case management order and/or an initial status conference. This is because each county in Colorado processes divorce cases somewhat differently.
Your legal team will work with you to arrange impending court appearances or hearing dates, deadlines for required disclosures, requests for any more documentation, the requirement for any expert reports, and other things during this phase.
Although these are frequently not required, the Court prefers to set timelines for the completion of further documents, appraisals, or evaluations in order to allow the parties to reach an agreement more quickly once such materials are done.
Divorcing partners occasionally approach the Court for temporary orders pertaining to child custody, interim support, or even prospective monetary or real estate transactions. In order to give the parties and counsel a deadline to work toward and prevent cases from dragging on longer than necessary, many metro-Denver courts also like to schedule a permanent judgment hearing date, even when the case is likely to settle.
Discovery and Financial Disclosure
Both participants must provide mandatory financial disclosures prior to a hearing or signing a legally binding agreement. In Colorado, the mandated disclosures’ scope has grown over the previous 20 years. The statutory disclosures are comprehensive as of the time of this writing, and many parties seek legal assistance because they are overwhelmed by the requirements.
A comprehensive financial affidavit with financial analysis and a full net worth accountancy are among the obligatory disclosures, along with the disclosure of a plethora of other papers. When making these disclosures, it is best to consult with a skilled Colorado divorce lawyer because if the disclosures are inaccurate or lacking, there is a serious chance that any agreement or order made by the Court could later be ruled invalid if the inaccuracy is discovered. This is in addition to the potential repercussions that could occur if the Court has to place penalties for failing to produce necessary documents.
Along with assets, liabilities and ongoing costs will be taken into account. Therefore, both parties are also required to present evidence pertaining to mortgages, childcare costs, and ongoing commitments, among other statutory criteria. Give us a call to see if we can help you with your case. If you have any questions, our skilled Colorado divorce attorneys are ready to help.
The Division of Property under Colorado Divorce Law
Colorado law aims to divide marital assets in a “fair and equitable” manner during a divorce. In essence, this means that while the Court must determine an equitable partition of the marital estate, it does not simply divide all assets equally.
The Court will decide whether any separate property should be given to either party first. Furthermore, you shouldn’t assume that assets and debts would be split equally between the two spouses, as excessive asset divides are often typical.
Before starting to negotiate with your partner and most definitely before mediating or litigating these issues, it is best to speak with an attorney about them so that you can ascertain what an efficient and reasonable division might be from the outset. Otherwise, it may be too late, and miscommunication in the process may become more ingrained.
The types of assets that each party brought into the marriage, the financial as well as non contributions that each partner made to those completely separate assets, the types of living expenses that each party is likely to face after the divorce, the need for preservation in light of the proposed asset division, and other factors are frequently taken into consideration by the courts.
Particular attention should be paid to possessions that are deemed “marital property” since they were acquired or acquired during the marriage. There are other exclusions, such as gifts, inherited property obtained after a divorce, assets covered by other contracts, such as premarital, prenuptial, marriage, or trust agreements, and the list goes on. These are typically presumed to be marital assets by the Court and will generally need to be divided equally and fairly.
Negotiation, Mediation, and Hearings
At some point before the Court is requested to rule on the final dissolution of the marriage, 5% of our divorce cases reach a settlement before a permanent decree hearing (trial). Divorcing partners frequently settle on certain assets or pieces of property during these discussions, especially something which can be shared equally. Usually, at this point, additional factors like child custody, maintaining ownership of a joint asset, etc., will be explored.
However, before engaging in sensible bargaining, you should consult with a seasoned divorce lawyer who can provide you insight into what a court is likely to do in your case and what would constitute a fair settlement.
When you negotiate from a position of power rather than merely hurling out proposals or attempting to respond to them, which can be daunting for one or both spouses, especially if they don’t have access to all the necessary information or documents, you will be in a stronger position. We can help you move through this process in a way that will result in compromises that benefit both parties.
If the parties and their counsel are unable to come to an agreement, the majority of metro area courts will order mediation. We recognize that mediation may occasionally be scary, so it’s crucial to speak with a lawyer before the mediation to determine what terms you should and should not be willing to accept. A neutral third person fosters dialogue between parties throughout a mediation procedure in order to settle these disputes.
The mediator offers advice, generates ideas, and facilitates discussions about a just outcome. As the mediator does not have the power to bind the parties to a decision like the courts do, the resolution must be satisfactory to both parties. Consensual, cooperative conflict resolution and collaborative issue solving are at the heart of mediation.
The mediator will probably separate the participants at some point during the mediation procedure. The parties will often begin the procedure in separate chambers with their respective attorneys.
The mediator will walk between chambers using “shuttle-diplomacy” to talk about various topics with each party. The parties are occasionally brought together at the start and finish of the process to exchange information and check knowledge and understanding.
Although the mediation procedure is not always successful, if you choose top-notch mediators, more than 90% of cases settle during or shortly after the mediation process. The choice of a mediator is extremely important because anyone can serve as a mediator in Colorado.
Couples with children who want to maintain peaceful relationships after divorce and qualified mediators who are seasoned divorce attorneys or retired family law judges benefit most from mediation.
Both participants must show up to the mediation with the intention of resolving the difficulties in order for it to be successful. If the mediation is mandated by the Court, the parties who refuse to participate in good faith mediation may be subject to punishment from the judge. You are expected to take part with the intention of attempting to resolve these difficulties; nevertheless, you are not required to come to an agreement.
The mediation procedure is discreet and confidential. Since the conversations are geared toward reaching a settlement, the mediator is typically not admissible as a witness in Court. Mediation is used to avoid the cost, risk, and time associated with court proceedings.Many parties also suffer less emotionally and financially if they can reach an agreement that both parties agree to abide by instead of a ruling the Court imposes.
Most often, if the parties are represented by lawyers, the lawyers show up for the mediation session. This brings all parties to the negotiation table and gives them the opportunity to consult with their own attorneys about their respective bargaining powers. Agreements reached through mediation are far more likely to be complied with by the parties.
If the defendants are unable to come to an agreement regarding the division of assets, the matter will proceed to trial, where the judge will hear pertinent arguments and provide a decision. If your lawsuit cannot be settled, our attorneys are seasoned litigators who know how to successfully and efficiently advocate your case at the hearing.
In Colorado, a judge may order one spouse (the “paying spouse”) to provide temporary alimony to the other spouse (the “supported spouse”) who earns less money or is unemployed. In order to determine temporary alimony in Colorado courts, an income-based formula is used. Courts can also order longer-term alimony awards.
In this state, the lawfully separated party must hold off on filing for divorce for six months. This indicates that the waiting time starts when the separation decree is issued and that the spouse may file for divorce after the waiting period of six months has passed.
In Colorado, a divorce must be finalized within 91 days of the onset application being filed. The Court must wait 91 days after you apply for divorce and provide the opposite party with the papers before awarding it.
Since Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, a divorce can be granted as long as the marriage is deemed to be irretrievably broken. This includes situations in which the parties cannot agree on the terms of the divorce.