Protecting Your Rights & Advocating For Your Interests
Even the most amicable divorce can be time-consuming, stressful, and emotionally draining. But when the divorce is contested and things like property division, spousal maintenance, and child custody are up in the air, the stakes become much higher – and those emotions become that much more intense. That’s when the help of an experienced Denver contested divorce attorney becomes vitally important.
If you are going through a contested divorce, you deserve a lawyer who can prepare you for the challenges ahead and help you overcome them, securing you the favorable terms you need. You deserve the help of the contested divorce attorneys at Halligan LLC. Contact our offices today by calling (720) 608-2361 or filling out our online form for a consultation.
What is a Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce is one in which there is no agreement fully resolving all outstanding issues, which must be reconciled before the divorce can be finalized. Spouses may disagree on how to divide their assets or debts, or whether and how much spousal maintenance should be paid. They may also disagree on how parenting time should be shared between the parents, and/or how much child support the non-custodial parent should pay.
It is important to note that every divorce—even the most ammicable one—is a contested divorce until there is a signed agreement that resolves these and any other outstanding issues.
Pursuing a Contested Divorce in Colorado
To file for divorce in Colorado, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for the last 90 days (with limited exceptions). And because Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, neither spouse is required to prove grounds for the filing beyond the breakdown of the marriage.
If you want the divorce to also cover the allocation of parental responsibilities for children with your spouse, the children must have been in Colorado for at least the previous six months (with limited exceptions).
If these requirements have been met, you or your spouse must file a petition for the dissolution of the marriage along with a summons at your local court. Then, the spouse who filed the divorce petition (known as the petitioner) must serve the other spouse (known as the respondent) with notice of the divorce filing. This involves providing them with the same documentation that was filed with the court: the petition, summons, and a case information sheet.
The petitioner is required by Colorado law to serve notice to the respondent in one of three ways:
- By hiring a process server to serve the other spouse, or requesting a neutral third party or county sheriff to do so.
- If, despite exhaustive efforts, the petitioner can’t locate their spouse in order to serve them, the petitioner may mail them notice of the divorce filing or have it published. The petitioner must obtain approval from the court to do so.
- The respondent can waive service by signing a Waiver and Acceptance of Service form, which must be witnessed by the clerk of the court or a notary public and then submitted to the court.
The petitioner must provide the court with proof of service after serving the respondent with the divorce documents. After the divorce petition is filed and the respondent is served notice of the divorce filing, a 90-day waiting period begins, which must elapse before the divorce can be granted. In the case of a contested divorce, it’s unlikely that all relevant matters will be resolved by the end of this waiting period.
You and your spouse will then be required to attend an initial status conference at the court. This status conference is an informal meeting with the judge or clerk and the parties and attorneys, in which everyone goes over the upcoming deadlines and requirements, and discusses the potential need for any experts. It is possible a hearing may be set at this status conference. Additionally, the parties will likely be ordered to attend mediation by a certain deadline.
Mediation is a legal process that takes place outside of a courtroom and is less formal than a court hearing. A neutral third party trained in mediation, called a mediator, facilitates discussions between you, your spouse, and your attorneys in order to resolve any outstanding divorce disputes.
If you both can agree on all issues related to the divorce in mediation, the resulting agreement will then be provided to the court for approval and finalization of the divorce. However, if you are unable to resolve all outstanding issues, the divorce will not be finalized and the issues will be determined at the final hearing/trial pending any other agreements. Proceeding to hearing will extend the duration of the proceedings, and places the final unresolved issues in the hands of a judge.
Hearings in a Contested Divorce
In the event that you and your spouse are unable to resolve all of the outstanding disagreements through mediation, your divorce will then enter the hearings phase. During these hearings, you and your spouse will present evidence supporting your respective arguments regarding each outstanding issue. For example, if you disagree over a particular piece of marital property, you will present evidence to the judge supporting why you believe your argument regarding the property is correct. You and your spouse may also call witnesses to support your arguments. An experienced contested divorce attorney will have valuable professional relationships with experts who can improve your chances of a satisfactory conclusion.
At the conclusion of the hearings, the judge will issue a decision on all of the divorce matters and finalize the divorce. The terms that they impose are binding, and must be honored by both former spouses.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
Contesting a divorce is not only emotionally draining, but it’s also legally challenging. You need a divorce attorney who understands the complex laws regarding all relevant divorce issues, and can therefore effectively advocate for your interests either in mediation or in court.
Why Choose Halligan LLC?
The divorce attorneys at Halligan LLC have many years of experience representing spouses in contested divorce proceedings. We give our clients our full commitment, and are prepared to do everything we can to help them reach the outcome they desire. Call us today at (720) 608-2361 or contact us online for a consultation.