Many divorce filings are the result of a couple's mutual discussions. However, under Colorado law, a spouse can file for divorce even over the other spouse's objections. The mere act of filing for divorce often satisfies the required showing of a marriage that is irretrievably broken.
Thus, it's conceivable that a spouse might be surprised to be served with divorce papers. In that situation, it's important to know how to respond.
First, a spouse surprised by a divorce filing is not necessarily at a disadvantage. After the divorce filing, an automatic temporary injunction goes into place. The purpose of that court order is to prevent spouses from taking actions that would put the other spouse at a disadvantage, such as sudden transfers of property or discontinuing insurance coverage.
Another protection offered by a divorce filing is the 90-day waiting period, calculated from the date of the filing. During that time, a party should have an opportunity to visit the complicated issues of property division, support and, in the event of children, child custody and support.
Of course, many individuals might not be aware of the automatic temporary injunction or the 90-day cooling-off period. That's where the work of an experienced divorce attorney can begin. An attorney can help a spouse with all of the procedural and legal obligations that are triggered by service of process.
Finally, a spouse shouldn't underestimate the complexities involved in property division. Even taking an inventory of the marital estate may require an attorney's help to avoid mistakes, such as commonly overlooked assets like business interests and insurance and retirement benefits.
Source: Colorado Legal Services, "Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce/Dissolution of Marriage," copyright 2015, Pro Bono Net