How to File Divorce in Colorado

How to File Divorce in Colorado: A Step-by-Step Guide

Going through a divorce can be a challenging and emotional process. If you are considering filing for divorce in Colorado, it’s important to be well-informed about the legal requirements and procedures involved. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to file for divorce in Colorado and answers some frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you navigate through the process smoothly.

Step 1: Meet the Residency Requirements
To file for divorce in Colorado, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least 91 days before filing the petition.

Step 2: Gather Required Documents
You will need to collect various documents to initiate the divorce process, including your marriage certificate, financial records, and any relevant agreements or court orders.

Step 3: Determine the Grounds for Divorce
Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, which means you don’t need to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. Simply stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken is sufficient.

Step 4: File the Petition
Prepare the necessary paperwork, including the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, and file it with the district court in the county where you or your spouse resides. Pay the filing fee or request a fee waiver if eligible.

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Step 5: Serve the Petition
The person filing for divorce must serve the other spouse with a copy of the filed petition and a Summons. This can be done by a process server or through certified mail with return receipt requested.

Step 6: Await Response
The other spouse has 21 days (if served within Colorado) or 35 days (if served outside Colorado) to file a response to the petition. If the response is not filed within the specified time, the court may proceed with the divorce without their input.

Step 7: Financial Disclosures
Both parties must complete and exchange financial disclosures, including information on income, assets, debts, and expenses. This allows for a fair division of property and determination of child support or spousal maintenance.

Step 8: Reach a Settlement or Attend a Hearing
If both parties can agree on all divorce-related issues, such as property division, child custody, and support, a settlement agreement can be drafted. If not, a court hearing will be scheduled to resolve any remaining disputes.

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Step 9: Finalize the Divorce
Once all issues are resolved, the court will review and approve the settlement agreement or issue a final divorce decree. This legally ends the marriage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1. Can I file for divorce in Colorado if I recently moved here?
Yes, as long as you or your spouse meet the residency requirement of 91 days.

2. How long does it take to get a divorce in Colorado?
The length of the divorce process varies depending on the complexity of the case and whether the parties can reach an agreement. It can take a few months to over a year.

3. Do I need an attorney to file for divorce?
While it is not required, consulting with an experienced family law attorney is highly recommended to ensure your rights are protected and to navigate the legal process smoothly.

4. Can we use mediation instead of going to court?
Yes, mediation is often encouraged to help parties reach a mutually satisfactory agreement outside of court.

5. How is property divided in a Colorado divorce?
Colorado follows the principle of equitable distribution, meaning marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. The court considers various factors to determine a fair division.

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6. What if my spouse doesn’t respond to the petition?
If your spouse fails to respond within the specified time, you may proceed with a default divorce, where the court can grant the divorce based on your petition alone.

7. Can I change my name during the divorce process?
Yes, you can request a name change as part of the divorce decree.

8. Can child custody and support be modified after the divorce is finalized?
Yes, child custody and support orders can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances.

9. How does Colorado handle spousal maintenance (alimony)?
The court considers various factors, such as the duration of the marriage, the financial resources of each spouse, and the standard of living during the marriage, to determine if spousal maintenance is appropriate and the amount to be awarded.

Filing for divorce in Colorado can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. By understanding the steps involved and seeking guidance from professionals, you can navigate through this difficult time with greater ease and clarity.