There’s no single correct way to end a marriage, especially when it comes to the emotional component. However, knowing the procedures can simplify the situation.
Colorado, like many other states, has unique requirements and specific processes. For example, local Family Law states that one of the parties must have domiciled in Colorado for at least 91 days before the proceeding can start. It means that either spouse must have physically resided in Colorado, intending to make it their permanent home.
In this article, we’ll share five essential tips on filing and getting a divorce in the Centennial State to help spouses get better prepared for the process.
Tip #1: Learn the Grounds for Divorce in Colorado
Along with 16 other states, Colorado courts accept only no-fault-based reasons for divorce. It means that spouses who want to end their marriage need to state that it’s irretrievably broken and can’t be repaired.
In Colorado, the judge won’t consider widespread fault-based reasons for the dissolution of marriage, such as adultery, desertion, or incarceration. However, in some cases, the court may review the facts of violence or abuse when deciding on children custody issues or the misappropriation of a family property when dividing spouses’ marital assets.
Tip #2: Know the Divorce Process Options
Colorado offers two options for a couple to proceed. Each of them has its pros and cons. Soon-to-be-ex-spouses need to choose the one that suits their particular situation.
A contested divorce is when one or both parties ask the court to intervene and resolve issues related to the property division, alimony (also known as spousal support), child custody, child support, visitation plan, etc.
As a rule, this type of breakup requires more time because the judge needs to consider each issue and listen to the parties’ arguments during the hearings. What’s more, it can cost spouses a vast amount of money since, in most cases, they will need to hire a lawyer.
An uncontested divorce means that both sides agree to end their marriage and don’t have any marital disputes. Usually, spouses negotiate all the issues and try to find solutions that satisfy both parties.
Such a divorce can be a relatively fast and less stressful process for both spouses. Moreover, it can be cheaper because filing fees are lower than in a contested case and because spouses can proceed without an attorney.
Tip #3: Choose the Right Divorce Papers
The Colorado Judicial Branch’s website has a special section devoted to marriage dissolution and legal separation. Spouses can find the necessary forms there, but it’s crucial to check with the local court’s clerk since each county may have its requirements regarding needed documents.
If no minor children are involved in the process, the petitioner needs to prepare a minimum set of forms, including:
- Petition for dissolution of marriage (if both parties agree, they can prepare a joint petition);
- Case information sheet;
- Summons for dissolution of marriage;
- Sworn financial statement;
- Sworn financial statement, supporting schedules.
For their part, the respondent in the case needs to prepare a response form, notarized financial statement, and supporting schedules, if applicable.
If a married couple has minor children, they’ll need to choose the same forms but from the Divorce with Children section and add a Support Order.
Tip #4: Consider Different Ways to Prepare Divorce Forms
In Colorado, a married couple can go one of three main ways when preparing their paperwork.
Hire a Lawyer
A lawyer can handle a contested case from beginning to end and prepare documents for an uncontested divorce if the couple doesn’t want or can’t use other options for some reason.
Usually, Colorado lawyers charge from $230 to $280 per hour. However, if your case is complex, the fee can be higher. Thus, hiring a lawyer to fill out papers can significantly increase the cost of divorce.
Do It Yourself
Spouses can also fill out the forms themselves after downloading them from the Colorado Judicial Branch’s website. This type of document preparation is called DIY divorce.
It’s better to fill out the forms using a computer, but if the spouses don’t have such an option, they can do it manually. However, they should write very carefully and legibly.
Filling out documents yourself can be a rather complicated procedure for people who don’t understand legal terminology. It’s inexpensive but time-consuming. Moreover, if you make mistakes in the paperwork, the court may reject your forms.
Complete Divorce Forms Online
Spouses who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on lawyers’ fees or waste hours filling out forms themselves can prepare their application for divorce online. It’s a so-called online divorce. However, it doesn’t mean that a couple can get divorced over the Internet. Only a judge can dissolve a marriage.
Once you’ve decided to go the Internet-divorce path, you need to search for divorce companies someone like coloradoonlinedivorce.com and check if you qualify by confirming that your case is uncontested and you know your spouse’s whereabouts. Then the company will fill out the forms for you. Web divorce is quite popular since it’s a relatively quick and affordable way to prepare documents.
Tip #5: Check out Local Filing for Divorce Procedures
Once the documents are ready, they can be filed with the district court in the county where either spouse lives. The petitioner will have to pay a filing fee that can vary by county. Usually, it’s around $230. If the other side wants to file a response, they will also have to pay a $116 fee.
The filing spouse should make two copies of the documents: one to serve the other spouse and another for their records. If your spouse wants to cooperate, you can hand them their papers personally or send them via mail. You can also hire a process server (a non-party person over 18 years old) to deliver the papers.
There is a mandatory 91-day waiting period from the date of joint filing or the date of serving the second party in Colorado. Only after this period ends can the court terminate a marriage.
The final essential tip for those who plan to apply for divorce in Colorado is to reach an agreement with their soon-to-be-ex-spouse.
If only one side wants to end the marriage, the court will decide sooner or later. However, during the lengthy court litigation, spouses can lose a lot of time and money and ruin their relationship completely. Marriage dissolution can become the beginning of your new life and how it starts depends on you.