What are the required steps in a Colorado divorce?
Very few people go through the divorce process more than once. This in itself is a reason to seek help from a professional who handles these cases on a daily basis.
Most divorce cases settle before trial. But there are many steps from an initial filing to a final order when you have children.
An early decision is whether you will file a petition with the court on your own or jointly. A residency requirement is another issue. Either you or your spouse must reside in Colorado for at least 91 days prior to filing for divorce.
When you have met the residency requirement, the next step is to file the petition in your County and pay the filing fees.
Filing a petition on your own requires that you serve or provide copies of all the documents to your spouse. You are then required to provide the court with proof of service (remember it must be a disinterested person who serves them).
Court forms and hearings
The next stage involves forms and possible court hearings. You will need to carefully review all correspondence from the court. Depending on your case, you may need to appear for a status conference.
Some of the forms that you may need to complete as part of the Case Management Order include:
- A Sworn Financial Statement
- Separation Agreement
- Parenting Plan
- Support Order
Communication often breaks down over the time it takes to reach an ultimate decision to divorce and file paperwork. This means that agreeing to all the issues is not very common. When you and your spouse cannot reach agreement on all of the issues, you also need to submit a pretrial statement.
Parenting classes and mediation
When children are involved, you will probably need to attend parenting class. Keep children out of the process. Do not say negative things about your soon to be ex-spouse. They could make negotiations more difficult and come back up in court.
Prior to trial, you might need to attend mediation. The court might also put a trial date on the calendar and you will need to appear if you cannot resolve all the issues through mediation. Trials are usually before one judge who decides the remaining conflicts after reviewing the evidence and listening to testimony.
The amount of time that the process takes depends on how much you and your ex-spouse cooperate. There is room for error and mistakes can delay the process and prove costly down the road. Retaining an attorney does cost money. The benefits, however, outweigh the cost when missteps are avoided, your rights are protected and the process is completed efficiently.