Almost no one walks down the marriage aisle expecting the journey to end in divorce court, but the most recent statistics show 3 divorces per every 1,000 Colorado residents in a year. When a couple comes to the realization that divorce is inevitable in their situation, they may investigate the process of divorce in Colorado and begin looking at the approximate cost. While the amount of legal and attorney fees may seem daunting, most divorcing spouses realize they could end up paying a great deal more in the long run if they don’t have a skilled, experienced Denver divorce lawyer advocating for their best interests throughout the process.
The average cost of a divorce in Colorado is between $10,000 and $15,000, but depending on the unique circumstances of each case, it could cost much more or significantly less. Most Colorado divorce costs include the cost of attorneys, filing fees, mediation, and court fees.
Hiring a Lawyer for Divorce in Colorado
Seeking legal representation is an important part of any divorce. No one should attempt to navigate the legal system without a knowledgeable attorney on their side. Most Colorado divorce lawyers charge an initial fee for a comprehensive case evaluation and then require a retainer of several thousand dollars—typically between $2,500 and $4,000 upon signing a contract for representation. After the retainer, attorney fees average between $250-$400 per hour. The total amount you’ll pay depends on the number of billable hours your case accumulates. When divorcing spouses can avoid contention and come to fair agreements on their own, the final amount they pay for attorneys will be much less than if they require courtroom litigation on any of the following issues addressed in divorce cases:
- Division of marital assets and debts
- Retention of the family home
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal maintenance
The more contentious the issues and the longer it takes to litigate each matter addressed in the case, the more attorney fees will add up. The average attorney costs in divorces with custody litigation are over $25,000.
Professional Mediation in Colorado Divorce Cases
Many couples who have difficulty resolving issues of asset division, support, and child custody will attend professional mediation. A mediator offers a safe space for attempting compromises and negotiating the terms of a divorce agreement. Mediators often have solutions that spouses wouldn’t have considered on their own. Most mediators charge between $100 and $300 per hour for their services. Though this may seem costly, it’s important to understand that coming to mutually acceptable terms through mediation saves many hours of pricier courtroom litigation.
Filing Fees and Courtroom Costs
Besides the attorney’s billable hours and mediation costs, divorce comes with several filing fees, court costs, and other incidental fees. These additional costs include:
- A $230 fee to file a petition for divorce within your jurisdiction
- A fee of $116 to respond to a divorce petition
- Costs for court-mandated parenting classes for divorcing parents
- Miscellaneous courtroom costs for depositions, copies, and transcripts.
While it’s never easy preparing for divorce either emotionally or financially, spouses who can avoid contention and resolve the issues of asset division and shared parenting together through communication and compromise not only save money and time but also have the best chance of moving forward into new lives with less rancor and a greater ability to communicate on important co-parenting issues.
What are the Steps in Colorado Divorce?
While the process for divorcing in Colorado may vary depending on the unique circumstances of every couple, the basic steps remain in place whether or not it’s an inexpensive, uncontested divorce, or a more complex divorce with many assets and matters of child custody, child support, and spousal support to navigate.
Colorado requires the following steps to complete the divorce process:
- One spouse must file for divorce within your jurisdiction if you or your spouse have resided in Colorado for 91 or more days
- The spouse is served divorce papers and has 21 days to file a response
- The spouses may reach an agreement for a simple, inexpensive, uncontested divorce if possible, and draft a settlement agreement
- Spouses attend the initial status conference with the court and their attorneys
- Both spouses must fully disclose all financial information
- A discovery period allows time for both sides to examine the financial disclosure of the other side
- Spouses attend the temporary orders hearing to decide matters of child custody and support to remain in effect until the final decree
- Spouses attend mediation
- Spouses attend the final hearing for the dissolution of marriage and permanent orders for the division of assets and debts as well as for child custody and child support/spousal maintenance if appropriate
Having an attorney representing your interests throughout all steps of a divorce can help to streamline the process and save you money, especially if you and your spouse can negotiate a fair agreement and proceed with an uncontested divorce.
How Much Does a Simple Divorce Cost in Colorado
By choosing the simplest route to divorce, some couples can save time, money, and contention. An uncontested divorce costs little more than the filing fees and courtroom costs as well as the basics of your attorney’s fees without the excess cost of courtroom litigation. Even adding a session with a professional mediator can cost less than $200 and result in a fair settlement for both parties.
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree to all terms put in place in a divorce settlement agreement they create through a lawyer or mediator. Some spouses use do-it-yourself forms, but the courts highly recommend hiring an attorney if you have children or any substantial assets or debts. Attorney’s fees for a simple, uncontested divorce are very reasonable and could end up saving you money by protecting your rights and best interests during the equitable distribution of property phase of the divorce.
Tips for Saving Money in a Colorado Divorce
Most divorcing spouses would rather not spend as much money on their divorce as they did for their large, family wedding. Fortunately, when a couple can agree on major issues, a divorce may proceed quickly and at minimal expense. Some good tips for saving money in a Colorado divorce include:
- Negotiating the equitable division of assets before going to court
- Coming to mutually acceptable terms on custody and child support outside of court through informal negotiation meetings
- Asking for your attorney to represent you only as needed in an “unbundled option”
No matter how much you wish to save money on your divorce, don’t make assumptions about your assets and make decisions without an attorney’s advice. Otherwise, you could save the attorney’s hourly fee, but lose a lot more on a bad move during your negotiation for property division.