To get a divorce in Colorado you must take several steps. Filing for divorce is only the first step. It is not realistic to expect the process to happen overnight. Several events need to occur before you can officially dissolve the marriage. Although it is not legally required for you to hire a divorce attorney, doing so can help ensure that you do not miss an important deadline and that you receive fair treatment during the divorce process.
At Stahly Mehrtens Miner LLC, we can help you through these steps to relieve part of the stress you may feel. With our team on your side, you should not feel lost at any stage of your case. We make it a priority to keep you in the loop along the way.Schedule your consultation with Stahly Mehrtens Miner LLC.
It is important to note that while this is a short guide on what to expect when filing for divorce in Colorado, it is not an exact guide. Please consult our divorce lawyers in Colorado for more guidance.
The First Three Months of The Divorce Process
The first step in filing for divorce in Colorado involves one spouse or both spouses filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. If both spouses file together, it is a collaborative divorce. If one spouse files and both agree to the terms of the divorce, it is referred to as an uncontested divorce. If one spouse files and one does not agree to at least one issue within the petition, it is referred to as a contested divorce.
If only one spouse files, the other spouse must be served with a summons to appear. If children are involved, a suggested parenting plan must also be included. Financial disclosures must also be made and included as well.
In most cases, your spouse has 20 days to file a response after being served the petition for dissolution of marriage. An initial status conference will be scheduled within 42 days after filing the summons and petition. Initial status conferences will set specific dates and discuss the specific issues of your divorce.
You may have a temporary orders hearing after the initial settlement conference. Temporary orders can address matters such as use of marital property (i.e. who might live in the marital residence while the case is pending), child support, parenting time/decision-making (meaning custody), temporary payment of attorney’s fees, allocation and payment of bills during the pendency of the case and spousal maintenance until the divorce has been finalized.
Within 42 days of serving the petition, both spouses must submit financial disclosures. You must detail your bank accounts, debts, assets, income and other financial obligations. You will also be involved in the discovery process. Discovery allows both spouses to request additional information, gather documents and submit interrogatories. Interrogatories are documents that include a list of questions you can ask your spouse. Document requests can be made in order to gain additional information about the issues in your case.
Responding to the Petition
Your spouse is allotted a certain amount of time under the law to both be served and to file a response. If the process server is unable to serve them, the Court may request that you continue to try. After a certain amount of time, you may be granted the ability to serve your spouse via publication.
If you successfully serve your spouse, as is the case for most, your spouse may file a response within a certain number of days. If they do not, the Court makes the presumption that they agree to what you’ve provided within your filings.
Depending on the facts in your matter, you may have other divorce forms that you need to complete.
Attending the Initial Status Conference
The Initial Status Conference is your first appearance before the Court. You are required to submit your financial statements and a Certificate of Compliance. Depending on your matter, you may be required to submit other documentation at that time as well.
Generally, this hearing lasts around 15 minutes. You’ll only be asked a couple of questions by the Court facilitator.
The Discovery Process
The discovery process may be used in divorce matters where it appears that the settlement isn’t going well and where it appears that both parties may head to trial. It may be used in other instances as well. Examples of discovery tools include:
- Requests for the production of documents
- Inspection (generally for appraisal or inventory purposes)
- Request for admissions
- Physical and mental examination
Finalizing The Divorce
Litigating a divorce is not cheap and can extend the divorce process. Under Colorado law, you must attempt to settle out of court before going to court. Settlement attempts include mediation and even parenting classes, if applicable. Having the assistance of an experienced attorney and a seasoned mediator is essential to reaching a favorable resolution in your case.
If you and your spouse decide to settle outside of court, you will submit a final Separation Agreement which details a division of property and debts, child support (if applicable) and maintenance. If you and your spouse cannot agree, you will need to go to trial. If you go to trial, a judge will make decisions related to all of the issues in your case that are not settled or agreed upon.
Our Colorado Divorce Attorneys Want To Help You
To learn more about what you can expect before a Colorado divorce, schedule your consultation with Stahly Mehrtens Miner LLC. Call (303) 797-2900 or schedule a consultation online at our Boulder or Steamboat Springs office.