How the Process Works
The divorce process can be difficult for anyone to go through. If you are considering divorce in Colorado, it is important to understand how the process works. In this blog, we will provide an overview of divorce in Colorado, including information on filing requirements, the filing process, and the various issues that need to be resolved in a divorce. We will also discuss the importance of having an experienced attorney represent you during your divorce proceedings.
Filing Requirements in Colorado
In Colorado, either spouse may file for divorce. The plaintiff must have been a state resident for at least 91 days before filing and must file their paperwork in the county where the respondent (non-filing party) resides. If the divorce is uncontested, meaning that both spouses agree to all terms of the divorce, then it may be possible to resolve your case without an attorney. If there are contested issues, however, it is strongly advised that you seek legal counsel.
The Divorce Process
To begin, one spouse (the petitioner) will file a Summons, Case Information Sheet and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court clerk in their county of residence. The other spouse (the respondent) will then be served with these documents along with a Notice of Automatic Temporary Injunction. The respondent will have 10 days to give a response to the court if they live in Colorado, or 35 days to respond if they live in another state.
The parties will always be required to file and exchange certain financial documents and information. If the case is contested, the Court will always require the parties to attend mediation before a hearing.
If the divorce is uncontested, the parties can file a Separation Agreement (and Parenting Plan if there are minor children). This document indicates that both spouses agree to all terms of the divorce. The divorce will then be finalized by a judge 91 days after service on the respondent. There may or may not be an uncontested hearing with the judge.
If there are contested issues, however, the divorce will proceed to a trial. At trial, each spouse will present evidence and testimony in support of their position on the various issues. These issues can include property division, spousal maintenance (alimony), child custody, and child support, to name a few. After hearing all evidence, the judge will make a ruling on these issues and issue a divorce decree.
Issues That Need to be Resolved in a Divorce
There are a number of issues that need to be resolved in a divorce, the most common of which are property division, spousal maintenance, child custody, and child support.
In Colorado, in general, all property acquired during the marriage is considered marital property and will be subject to equitable division and distribution. This means that the court will attempt to divide the property in a just and fair manner, taking into account each spouse's financial needs and contributions to the marriage.
Alimony, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, may be awarded to either spouse in a divorce. There are several factors that the court will consider when making a determination about alimony, including each spouse's financial needs and abilities, the length of the marriage, and whether one spouse sacrificed their career for the benefit of the other.
If there are minor children from the marriage, custody will need to be determined. There are two types of custody in Colorado: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to who has the authority to make decisions about the child's welfare, such as decisions about education, healthcare, and religion. Physical custody refers to where the child will live. Joint legal and physical custody is very common in Colorado but not guaranteed. Colorado courts will always decide based on what is in the child's best interests. Factors such as living situations and locations, work schedules, any substance abuse issues, domestic violence, who historically cared for the children, and the parties’ ability to work together for the good of the child(ren) are considered carefully by the Court.
Child support is intended to help cover the costs of raising a child. In Colorado, child support is calculated using a formula that takes into account each parent's income, the number of children, and the number of overnights each child has with each parent.
Having an Attorney
While it is possible to file for divorce without an attorney in Colorado, it is strongly advised to seek legal counsel if there are contested issues. An experienced divorce attorney will be familiar with the divorce process and laws in Colorado and can provide invaluable guidance throughout the divorce proceedings.
In addition, an attorney can help negotiate a settlement on your behalf and represent you at trial if necessary. Choosing to be represented by an attorney is one of the most important decisions you will make during your divorce, so be sure to select someone you feel comfortable with and who has experience handling cases like yours.
At Law Office of Alexandra White, PC, we dedicate our practice to helping families work through the most difficult times in their lives. Choosing us means choosing a team that will meet your needs at every step of the process.
Learn more about divorce in Colorado and how we can help or schedule a consultation by calling (303) 647-4245 or by visiting our website.