Divorce is never a happy experience, but in the best-case scenario, divorcing spouses can come to mutually agreeable terms on all aspects of the divorce to avoid court. Unfortunately, this isn’t as common as divorces in which spouses dispute one or more aspects of the divorce such as child custody, the distribution of their marital assets, or spousal maintenance payments (alimony). When spouses cannot agree on the terms of their divorce it becomes a contested divorce which requires a discovery period, full financial disclosures, and a court hearing during which both sides present their cases to the judge.
Your Denver divorce attorney will inform you of the strategy they’ve prepared to effectively present your case to the judge, including reviewing the questions they’ll ask you and the ones your spouse’s attorney is likely to ask.
Before you head to court, it helps reduce anxiety and stress when you’re prepared for the questions a judge is likely to ask you in court during the final hearing. Questions in divorce court help facilitate informed decisions.
Basic Questions In Contested Divorce Hearings
No two divorce hearings are the same, just as no two marriages and divorces are the same. Depending on the disputes the judge must resolve, you’ll experience lines of questioning about your assets and debts, your daily routine with your children, and your ability to support yourself and your children after the divorce. In addition to questions by both attorneys, there are basic questions asked by the judge in the final divorce hearing, including the following:
How long were you and your spouse married?
This isn’t just a polite inquiry, the duration of a marriage has a great deal to do with how the judge decides key issues, such as spousal support (alimony) and what assets you may or may not be entitled to, including portions of your spouse’s retirement fund and income. For example, if one spouse puts their own education or career goals on hold to support their spouse’s career or to raise children, they may be entitled to a share of future income, at least until they can complete their education or become self-supporting.
Has it been at least 91 days since you filed the divorce petition?
Colorado requires a 91-day “cooling off” period during which spouses sometimes reconcile, but more often the time is spent either negotiating an out-of-court divorce agreement or engaging in discovery for a contested divorce. During the discovery stage of a divorce, both parties must give full financial disclosures and answer all requests for documents regarding their income, assets, and debts.
Have you and your spouse made efforts to resolve your disputes before coming to court?
A Colorado court judge wants to know that you’ve made every effort to resolve your disputes without requiring the court to make decisions for you. Divorcing spouses may meet with their attorneys and attend mediation sessions to resolve contentious matters and attempt a settlement before going to court.
Do you and your spouse have children, and if so, have you reviewed the state’s guidelines for shared parenting time and child support?
Judges in Colorado family court make all decisions in the best interests of the children when divorcing spouses share biological or adopted children.
What if We’ve Resolved our Disputes and Filed for an Uncontested Divorce?
When spouses draft a settlement agreement outside of court, the judge may still ask some questions to ensure that the terms of your divorce are on the record. They’ll ask questions such as the following:
- Is this your signature on the divorce settlement agreement?
- Do you agree that the settlement agreement is fair?
- Are you under duress or pressure to sign the agreement?
- Do you agree to all terms of the agreement, including child custody, child support, and the division of marital assets?
- Do any issues in the settlement require a legal review from the court?
In the vast majority of uncontested divorces, the judge signs off on the agreement and issues the final decree with the spouse’s terms intact.