Did you know that each year close to 700,000 married couples get divorced? A marriage ending can be a painful event that's made worse by the complicated paperwork and court appearances required for divorce.
If you need a divorce in Colorado, you're likely wondering how to file. Can you file for divorce on your own? Do you need a Colorado divorce attorney to help you with the process?
If you need divorce help in Colorado, you're in the perfect place. This Johnson Law Group Family Law Attorneys guide will walk you through everything you need to get a divorce in Colorado.
Before you can begin to file for divorce, there are some things you need to do beforehand. That starts with making sure that you meet the residency requirements in the state of Colorado.
This requirement comes from the Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-106. It states that to get a divorce in the state, it must be your permanent home for a minimum of ninety-one days. However, it doesn't end there.
If you have children, then you'll only be able to get a divorce if the children have lived in the state for one hundred eighty-two days. The only time this doesn't apply is if your child is less than six months old.
This law applies even if you have an agreement on child custody. Once you find out if you meet the residency requirements, you can move on to the next step of filing.
An uncontested divorce means that you're working together at every step of the process. To file, you will need to create a separation agreement. Your agreement must include a consensus about the major aspects of ending your marriage. This includes how you will divide the property, alimony payments, and (if you have children) custody, child support, and parenting time.
Alternatively, you can also go through a collaborative divorce. This occurs when you and your spouse both have individual attorneys. Together, you and your spouse will work with these professionals to resolve each important area of your divorce.
If you can't agree on certain issues, you must file a contested divorce. Just keep in mind that contested divorces will involve a lot more court time and money to accomplish.
In addition, you will almost certainly need the assistance of an attorney. Uncontested divorces, on the other hand, are relatively streamlined. Many couples can do the process entirely online.
Next, it's time to find the appropriate divorce papers. If you're filing in Colorado, you can find the appropriate forms through this state resource.
You'll notice that there are different form options for couples who have minor children. You must fill out the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage Legal Separation Form (aka JDF 1101) and the Case Information Sheet (aka JDF 1000).
Now, if your divorce is uncontested, then you can file this divorce together. One person will need to be the petitioner, and the other will be the co-petitioner.
If your divorce is contested, one spouse can initiate the process by filing a Summons for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation Form (JDF 1102).
Then, the other spouse must respond to this form by filing the Response (aka JDF 1103).
Note that these are just some the Colorado state forms. Certain counties in Colorado will require additional forms, so we recommend you contact our office and consult with our Family Law Attorneys. Our team will review your specific situation and then triple-check the rules in the county where you reside to ensure your case isn't missing any important forms.
Once you've filled out the appropriate divorce forms, you must make copies of all of them. You will file one of these forms, while the others will be for each spouse to keep.
Next, bring copies of your divorce papers to the county clerk's office where you and your spouse live. Alternatively, you can also file these forms online.
If you're going through an uncontested divorce together, then either party can file the divorce forms. However, if the process is contested, then the petitioner can file it instead.
You must also pay a filing fee when you drop off these papers. If you can't afford the fee, you should ask for Form JDF 205. This is an affidavit that a judge will review.
If they approve, then the judge will waive the filing fee. If they don't approve, you can break the filing fee down into installment payments to make them more manageable.
Once you file, the clerk will provide you with court-stamped copies. Or, if you're filing a summons, they'll sign it for you.
If you're filing for an uncontested divorce, you will already have copies of the divorce papers. However, say you're the petitioner in a contested divorce. In that case, it's your responsibility to serve your spouse with copies of the forms as soon as possible.
There are multiple methods of doing this. First, if your spouse agrees to waive a formal service, you can simply hand over, mail, or drop off the papers.
Just keep in mind that your spouse must sign these forms in the presence of the county clerk or a formal notary. If your spouse doesn't agree to the waiver, you need a process server.
There are private services for hiring these individuals. However, it can also include the sheriff or anyone over eighteen with no connection to the divorce.
Once the process server gets the signatures, they'll deliver the forms to you or the county clerk. If they deliver them to you, you will need to file them.
If you can't find your spouse, another resource can be to ask the court for permission to publish a notice in the local newspaper. After filing, you will have nine weeks to serve your spouse the papers. Your spouse will have three weeks to respond to them. All of this can be very time consuming and critical so we highly recommend you contact an experienced
If your divorce is uncontested, you can finalize it without going to court. You can do this by filing a JDF 1201 form. If you meet the requirement, the judge will review your paperwork before issuing a final dissolution decree.
However, if you don't meet the requirements, you must go through several other steps before your divorce is finalized. These steps include things like:
Your attorneys will walk you through what each of these steps entails in more detail.
The answer to this question depends on several factors. First, if you're filing for divorce jointly, then you can take advantage of Colorado's streamlined process.
In these cases, you can complete the entire divorce procedure in as little as ninety days. However, if you're filing a contested divorce, it will take longer.
At a bare minimum, you can expect the process to take six months. It's extremely uncommon for contested divorces to happen this quickly. More likely, the process will drag on for years at a time.
One way you can speed up the divorce process is by hiring a good attorney. The Colorado Court system relies on lawyers to push these cases forward.
If you can help it, you should try your best to keep the divorce out of the trial. Trial divorces are the ones that often take years to complete.
As we mentioned before, if you're getting a contested divorce, you will almost always require the help of a Colorado divorce attorney. Without one, you can easily make a mistake that will jeopardize your legal rights.
If your divorce is uncontested, you can file everything without the help of a legal professional. Many couples take this route. However, even if your divorce is uncontested, it still makes sense to contact a divorce attorney for help. Why?
Because certain aspects of the divorce process can be quite confusing. This is especially true if you have multiple assets closely tied together. This can include property, joint bank accounts, and retirement accounts.
A good attorney can help you reach a fair divorce settlement when dividing these assets. They can also ensure that you fill out all your paperwork correctly.
If you don't do this right, the court can throw out your petition, which will prolong the divorce process and require you to pay additional filing fees.
We hope this guide helped you learn more about divorce in Colorado. As you can see, even uncontested divorces can benefit from the help of an experienced attorney. But how do you find a good one?
If you live in Colorado, look no further than Johnson Law Group. We work hard to ensure that our clients' divorce process is as quick and painless as possible. If you want to find out how we can help you through this season of your life, schedule a consultation with us today.