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Overview: The Decision to File in Colorado

The choice to file for divorce may be the most difficult decision. The challenges a family faces during such a process can be especially significant. Spouses commonly fear the impact this decision will have on their loved ones or career. Many fear they’ll lose what’s important to them, such as their family, children, assets, or retirement.

Due to the severity of the decision to file for divorce, it’s essential to understand the consequences.  Researching the divorce process provides a framework for knowing options. This effort also helps to chart a course for the future, successfully.  Understanding how divorce works within each state of residence (in this case, Colorado) is essential. This way, divorce parties can accurately assess what’s in front of them.

The Colorado family law court process is daunting, and it’s easy to become confused with complicated paperwork and complex instructions. It’s a court system designed, it seems, to send you in circles.  Modern Family Law encourages everyone to use the resources on the firm’s website to understand how divorce or other family law cases work.

Protecting My Rights

After the decision to file, it’s common for people to have questions about their rights in the process.  Unfortunately, reliable answers are hard to find.  Since every situation is different, there’s no standard answer for the rights a party will have. Most concerns involve specific property, parenting time, or decision-making.  An accurate answer to any divorce-related question requires experience with the specifics of marriage. The most reliable feedback consists of the exploration of confidential information from the parties involved.

Colorado is an equitable division state. This term means merely a court looks at the “fairness” of property distribution in a divorce.  It’s easy to assume that equal distribution means splitting assets 50/50. All situations vary, but nobody should ever predict that a judge will agree to a half-and-half split.  With Colorado divorce laws, opposing parties are allowed to argue a host of factors about the case. This step can ultimately tilt the outcome of property division off balance.

Parenting Considerations

When it comes to making decisions that affect the children in a case, Colorado judges can consider many factors under the law. In the case of parenting time, a court focuses on the best interests of the child(ren). Depending on the review of what’s best for the kids, the outcome can out-weigh either of the parents’ preferred results.

Separating spouses in Colorado divorce cases often worry about what happens next in life. Questions like, “Will I be able to pay my bills? Where am I going to live? Can I move out of state?” are common. These types of questions create a lot of anxiety. Due to the personal impact, this may have on either party, leaving these decisions to a judge can be risky.  It’s recommended to have more control over the outcome of the case. Working out a mutually beneficial settlement, rather than let a court arbitrarily dictate the future can be extremely helpful.

The Divorce Process

Having a divorce lawyer on your side can make a world of difference. Many people may be able to manage this process on their own, but there are many more that required real legal help. Legally separating can be quite confusing and each state differs on how they approach a divorce case. In Colorado, a divorce case is initiated by filing a Petition for Dissolution. The petition must be filed with the appropriate court and served to the other party. After the other party receives this petition, they have the opportunity to file a response to the petition. While people often file for divorce without lawyers, this entire process is more comfortable with the help of a family law attorney.

Most courts in family law cases will set your case for an Initial Status Conference (ISC) with a judge, a magistrate, or a court facilitator.  At the ISC, your case is reviewed by a court professional with the intention of expediting its handling. 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 a temporary order hearing.

During this process, the court may also require the parties to mediate their divorce before it sets the case for a hearing. The timing of the decision to file is an essential factor in the process of divorce. Most divorce parties want this process over as quickly as possible, and that’s not always the case. In Colorado, there is no expedited divorce option. The state has a mandatory 90-day waiting period before a court has jurisdiction to enter a divorce decree.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the mandatory waiting period (90 days), the court can review any settlement agreement.  If the deal meets the requirements, the court will then enter the agreement as an order. In other cases, the court may hold an evidentiary hearing on the issues within a divorce case. After that, 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.

Posted January 14, 2019
by: MFL Team

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