Filing for a divorce might be one of the most challenging decisions you have to make. But many people feel less overwhelmed once they have a better understanding of what to expect.
If you’re considering a divorce in Colorado, we’ve prepared a guide below to help you learn more about the process. Once you’re ready to take the next step, contact Halligan LLC at (720) 608-2361. Our experienced and caring family law attorneys would be happy to meet with you for a consultation.
To file for divorce in the State of Colorado, the process is as follows:
Divorce proceedings begin when a spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court. Spouses can also file a joint Petition together.
After the Petition is filed and served, the responding party must file a Response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage within 21 days of being served. If the responding party is out of state, then they must respond to the Petition within 35 day of being served.
It’s essential to keep in mind that Colorado is a “no-fault” state. What this means is that you don’t have to prove fault or wrongdoing when you file for divorce.
So, if the non-filing spouse does not file a Response to the Petition, then the court will assume that the Petition is uncontested and will proceed accordingly.
In divorce proceedings, financial disclosures are required. These disclosures are also necessary to engage in meaningful settlement negotiations. They give a clear picture of each spouse’s financial standing, their income, expenses, debts, assets, and more. Using this information and if the parties do not come to an agreement, the court can fairly divide property and/or order alimony.
Financial disclosures may include mortgage statements, tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and more. Even if the divorce is uncontested, spouses must still provide financial disclosures.
The Initial Status Conference is typically held within 42 days after filing for divorce. At this stage, you, your spouse, and your attorneys will likely have an informal meeting with the Judge or Family Court Facilitator to discuss your case, ensure everyone is meeting deadlines, and possibly set your case for hearing.
Temporary orders are sometimes necessary to maintain the status quo while a divorce is pending. . Temporary orders will usually cover issues including:
- Parenting Time (Child visitation)
- Decision-making for children
- Maintenance (otherwise known as alimony)
- Use of property
- Payment of marital expenses/debts
- Other obligations
Many spouses can agree upon temporary orders; however, if there is no agreement, the court may have a temporary orders hearing.
The discovery process allows each party to request and receive information from the other in divorce cases. The discovery process includes the exchange of Interrogatories, which are written questions that require the responding party to answer under oath, and/or Requests for Production of Documents, which may require each party to provide documents such as bank statements, tax returns, and other documents relevant to the divorce proceedings.
In very rare cases, depositions might also be required. A deposition is a verbal statement given under oath. During a deposition, your spouse’s attorney will question you or other individuals (usually experts on specific relevant topics), and a court reporter will transcribe everything said.
While the process might seem intimidating, your attorney will be there and can object to any irrelevant questions. All information and evidence gathered during the discovery process can help the parties come to a fair settlement.
If you and your spouse do no have a full settlement agreement, you are required to attend mediation before the trial date. The deadline to attend mediation will depend on the judge, but you cannot go to permanent orders until mediation has occurred. Mediation is a meeting where the mediator, you, your spouse, and your attorneys attempt to resolve the remaining issues in your case. The goal is to come to a fair agreement without having to proceed to trial.
The mediation is facilitated by a third-party conflict resolution professional (called a mediator), who will help guide both parties to an agreement. Most divorce mediations occur in “shuttle” format, in which you and your attorney are in a separate room from your spouse and their attorney, and the mediator goes back and forth between the two rooms.
If both parties manage to settle all remaining issues during the mediation, then a trial is not needed. Instead, the proposed settlement agreements are filed with the court.
If the court approves the settlement agreements, then the divorce can be finalized without a trial.
Permanent Orders Hearing
If both parties cannot reach an agreement, then the case will proceed to a Permanent Orders Hearing, or trial. During a divorce trial, both sides will argue their case and present evidence to support their positions..
Afterward, the judge will make a final decision regarding the disputed issues, which may include maintenance/spousal support, the division of assets, parenting time, and any other contested matters. The judge will also grant a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, which finalizes the divorce.
When Should You Contact a Colorado Divorce Attorney?
If you’re planning on filing for a divorce in Colorado, one of the first things you should do is contact a family law attorney. An experienced divorce attorney who understands Colorado’s laws can best protect your legal and financial interests.
Even if you and your spouse agree on everything, divorce can be unpredictable. It is always a good idea to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
If you think your divorce will be contested, then it’s even more imperative that you hire an attorney. They will advocate on your behalf during the entire process, including during discovery, depositions, mediation, and trial. An experienced family law attorney can help you save time and money in the long run.
If you’d like to speak with a Denver divorce attorney, contact Halligan LLC today at (720) 608-2361, so our experienced legal team can meet with you for a divorce consultation.