Filing for divorce may be the most difficult and private decision a person makes in life. The challenges a family faces during a one make the decision especially consequential and difficult. Spouses fear the impact this decision will have on loved ones or their job. Many fear they’ll lose their family, children, assets, and retirement.
That’s why it’s important to fully understand not only your options but the consequences of your choices as well. Doing your research on the divorce process, and the major steps from filing a decree gives you a framework for identifying what options you have and how you can successfully chart a course for your future. Understanding the Colorado divorce process is a good place to start on your way to making better choices.
The Colorado family law court process is daunting and convoluted with complicated paperwork, and confusing instructions. It’s a court system designed, it seems, to send you in circles. We encourage you to use the resources on our site to begin your understanding of how a divorce or other family law case works.
Protecting My Rights in a Divorce
It’s common for people at the beginning stages to have questions about their rights under Colorado divorce laws. Unfortunately, good answers are much less common than the questions! Since every situation is different, there’s no quick answer about what rights a party has with regard to specific property, parenting time, or decision-making. Reliable answers to your questions require a deep-dive into the specifics of marriage and exploration of confidential information.
With regard to property, assets, and debts, Colorado is an equitable division state. This means a court looks at the “fairness” of property distribution in a divorce. It’s easy to argue that a “fair” distribution is 50/50, but you shouldn’t just assume a judge will agree. Colorado divorce laws allow a spouse to argue the relevance of other factors which can tilt a property division in a divorce more to one side.
Parenting Time Considerations
In the case of parenting time, a court focuses on the best interests of the child in reaching a decision. Again, a judge in Colorado can consider many factors under the law, but the primary consideration is going to be the best interests of the children, not the needs or wants of the parents.
Spouses in Colorado divorce cases often worry about what happens next in life. “Will I be able to pay my bills? Where am I going to live? Can I move out of state?” These important questions create enormous anxiety about the future. Leaving a judge to answer them can be risky. It’s always better to control your own fate and work out a mutually beneficial settlement than to let a court dictate your fate in an arbitrary fashion.
Overview of the Divorce Process in Colorado
Having a divorce lawyer on your side can make a world of difference during this especially trying time. While people often file for divorce without lawyers, there’s no doubt the process is made easier with the help of a Colorado family law attorney.
In the state of Colorado, a divorce case is initiated by the filing of a Petition for Dissolution. The Petition must be filed with the right court and served to the other party. The other party then has the opportunity to file a response to the Petition.
Most courts in family law cases will set your case for an Initial Status Conference with a judge, a magistrate, or a court facilitator. At the Initial Status Conference, your case is reviewed by a court professional with the intention of expediting its handling. But if the parties can’t agree to an interim arrangement for payments of debts, support, parenting time, and decision-making, a court professional may set you for a temporary order hearing. The court may also require the parties to mediate their divorce before it sets the case for a hearing. Colorado has a mandatory 90-day waiting period before a court has jurisdiction to enter a divorce decree. Finally, there is no expedited divorce available in the state of Colorado.
At the end of the mandatory waiting period, the court can review any settlement agreement. If it looks okay, the court will enter the agreement as an order. In other cases, the court may hold an evidentiary hearing on the issues in your divorce case. Then, it can enter permanent orders based on its finding of fact and conclusions of law. Either way, the court will issue a decree formally ending the marriage.
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