How to File for 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 is important to understand the legal requirements and steps involved. This article will guide you through the process, providing clarity and answering some frequently asked questions to help you navigate this difficult time.
Step 1: Meet the Residency Requirements
Before filing for divorce in Colorado, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days.
Step 2: Determine the Grounds for Divorce
Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you don’t need to prove fault or blame to file for divorce. The most common ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
Step 3: Complete the Required Forms
To initiate the divorce process, you will need to complete several forms, including the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the Summons, and the Case Information Sheet. These forms can be obtained from the Colorado Judicial Branch website or your local county courthouse.
Step 4: File the Forms with the Court
Once you have completed the necessary forms, you need to file them with the appropriate court in your county. You will also need to pay a filing fee, which varies by county.
Step 5: Serve Your Spouse
After filing the forms, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the divorce papers. This can be done by a process server, sheriff’s office, or certified mail. Your spouse will then have 21 days to respond.
Step 6: Financial Disclosures
Both parties are required to provide full financial disclosures. This includes disclosing assets, debts, income, and expenses. Failure to provide accurate information can have serious consequences.
Step 7: Negotiate Settlement or Attend Mediation
If you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your divorce, you can negotiate a settlement agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, you may be required to attend mediation to resolve any disputes.
Step 8: Finalize the Divorce
Once all issues are resolved, you can submit a proposed Decree of Dissolution of Marriage to the court. If the court approves the decree, your divorce will be finalized.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How long does it take to get a divorce in Colorado?
The time it takes to finalize a divorce in Colorado can vary. It typically takes a minimum of 90 days from the date of filing for the divorce to be finalized.
2. Can I get a divorce without an attorney?
While it is possible to file for divorce without an attorney, it is recommended to seek legal advice, especially if there are complex issues involved.
3. What if my spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers?
If your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, you can still proceed with the divorce process. They may be served with the papers, and if they fail to respond within the designated time frame, the divorce can proceed without their consent.
4. How is property divided in a Colorado divorce?
Colorado follows the principle of equitable distribution, meaning that marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. The court considers various factors, including the length of the marriage, each party’s financial circumstances, and contributions to the marriage.
5. Can I change my name during the divorce process?
Yes, you can request a name change as part of the divorce proceedings by including it in your petition.
6. What if I can’t afford the filing fee?
If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. You can request a fee waiver form from the court clerk and provide evidence of your financial situation.
7. Can I modify child custody or support orders after the divorce?
Yes, child custody and support orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances. You will need to file a motion with the court requesting the modification.
8. What if my spouse lives in another state?
If your spouse lives in another state, you can still file for divorce in Colorado as long as you meet the residency requirements. However, additional steps may be required to serve your spouse with the divorce papers.
9. Can we use the same attorney for an uncontested divorce?
No, it is not recommended to use the same attorney for an uncontested divorce. Each spouse should have their own attorney to ensure their interests are protected.
Filing for divorce in Colorado can be a complex process, but understanding the steps involved and seeking legal guidance can help make it more manageable. Remember to prioritize self-care and seek support from friends, family, or professionals to navigate this challenging time successfully.