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How to File for Divorce In Colorado

How to File for Divorce In Colorado

How To File For A Divorce In Colorado

Sometimes a happily-ever-after doesn’t come until after spouses agree to part ways. When goals and personalities change over time, the best way forward might be a divorce. If you’ve decided that divorce is the inevitable conclusion of your marriage journey and you’re ready to file the petition, it helps to know the process for divorce in Colorado and what steps you need to take to begin.

1. Prepare Before You File for a Colorado Divorce

Divorce is a big step. It helps to begin the process before you take legal action. Preparing for a divorce means taking emotional steps as well as purposeful action. First, ensure that this is the right thing for you and your family. Ask yourself if you and your spouse have tried all avenues for recovering your relationship. If the answer is yes and you still want the divorce, then take the following steps to prepare:

  • Determine your new living arrangements. Will you remain in the marital home or leave it to your spouse? If you’ll need to find a new place to live, it’s best to have it lined up and ready for you to move in before, or immediately after, you file the divorce petition
  • Prepare for the required full financial disclosure by making a file with all financial accounts and income records
  • Open new bank accounts in just your name
  • End all shared accounts and subscriptions for streaming services and online retail and open new ones in your name alone
  • Change the passwords on your email, phone, devices, and accounts
  • Hire a Denver divorce attorney
  • If you have children, plan ahead by choosing a workable co-parenting plan by looking at Colorado’s recommended schedules for sharing custody

It’s always best to hire an attorney before you file the divorce petition. Your lawyer will ensure that your paperwork is meticulously detailed for a well-executed divorce petition with all of your desired outcomes for the divorce.

2. File the Divorce Petition

Either you alone or jointly with your spouse must file the divorce petition within your jurisdiction at your county clerk’s office. To be eligible to file, either you or your spouse must have lived in Colorado for at least 91 days. If you have children, they must have resided in the state for 182 days in order for the court to have jurisdiction to determine custody and child support.

Before you file, speak to your attorney about your option for the type of divorce that’s appropriate for your case. If you and your spouse are open to communicating and negotiating terms, you can streamline the process and minimize expenses through an uncontested divorce during which you negotiate divorce terms and make a settlement agreement instead of going to court. If you and your spouse have disputes over the terms of the divorce, you’ll need a contested divorce in which you both present your arguments in court for a judge to decide.

3. Serve the Paperwork to Your Spouse

Unless your spouse collaborated on a joint petition for divorce, you must ensure that a process server or the sheriff’s department serves them the divorce petition. Alternatively, you can agree to avoid this process by handing them to your spouse yourself if they sign a waiver. As the spouse who filed for divorce, you become the petitioner and your spouse is the respondent.

After receiving the divorce petition, a spouse has 21 days to file their response, or 35 days if they are out of state. In the response, they may agree to some or all of the divorce terms you’ve petitioned for, or they may dispute them.

4. Submit Full Financial Disclosures

Within 42 days after the respondent files their response to the petition, both parties must present full financial disclosures to the other party and their attorney. Your lawyer will assist you in filling out the forms carefully and completely. They may also request additional documents from your spouse and respond to document requests from your spouse’s attorney.

5. Negotiate Divorce Terms

A Colorado divorce must include provisions for all divorce terms, including the division of marital assets and debts. Each spouse may retain any assets or property that belonged solely to them before the marriage and anything inherited by them or gifted to them alone during the marriage. All assets and debts accumulated during the marriage must be divided and redistributed fairly between spouses. Colorado demands a “fair and equitable” division of assets that may not be exactly 50/50 but is close to that ideal.

The divorce settlement agreement must also include a parenting plan and child support payments according to the state’s guidelines. To reach a settlement agreement, spouses may attend mediation sessions with a neutral professional who offers creative solutions to resolve disputes. If the spouses cannot reach an agreement on one or more disputed terms, the case becomes a contested divorce.

6. Finalize The Terms of The Divorce

If both spouses come to an out-of-court agreement on all terms, they may be able to waive the hearing process by having their Denver family law attorneys file an affidavit of Decree Without Appearance of Parties. If the judge agrees that the case requires no hearing, they will review the paperwork and sign the final decree.

If the case requires a hearing or trial, there will be an initial status conference with all parties present. At the meeting, both sides present their plan for proceeding and identify the disputed terms. If the case requires temporary orders for child support or spousal support, the judge will put the temporary orders in place and set a court date. Both spouses must appear before the judge with their attorneys and present their arguments. When the trial concludes, the judge issues final orders on all divorce terms in the final divorce decree. Once both spouses sign the decree, their divorce is final.
Many women include a provision to return to their former name or maiden name once the divorce becomes final.

Call a Colorado Divorce Lawyer Before You File for Divorce

Although it’s possible to complete a divorce without an attorney, it’s rarely advisable, particularly for spouses with children or substantial assets. Before you file for divorce in Colorado, contact the experienced divorce lawyers at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. We’re ready to protect your rights with a resolution-oriented approach that always prioritizes your desired outcomes.