Individuals who wish to file for divorce in Colorado must meet residency requirements and must have the other party personally served with the petition in order to start a case. Even if the other spouse does not want a divorce, they cannot legally stop the filing spouse from seeking dissolution of the marriage.
Some people wonder if they can handle filing divorce paperwork themselves. Hiring an experienced attorney will ensure that Court deadlines are met and, most importantly, that all of your rights are protected. Failure to follow proper procedures can result in your case being dismissed, you having to pay opposing party's attorney's fees, and other negative outcomes. Brett Chalmers will ensure your case proceeds in accordance with the mandatory deadlines set forth in the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure and Colorado law.
Colorado is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that parties do not need to offer proof to the Court as to why they are seeking a divorce. Moreover, a court will not consider factors such as adultery when deciding whether or not to grant a divorce or award spousal or child support. However, if marital funds were "wasted" by either party, a Court can consider the use of marital funds when dividing marital property. Moreover, if child custody is in dispute, a court may consider evidence about the fitness of each parent, especially conduct that occurred in the presence of the child.
In Colorado, at least one spouse must have resided (been "domiciled") within the state for at least 91 days prior to filing for divorce. Domicile is determined by a person's intent to reside in the state. Purchasing a home or signing a lease agreement and obtaining a job in the area are factors that support a finding of residency, but ultimately this is a fact-based determination the judge must address. This often comes into play with military servicemembers and other individuals who must relocate for their job or to be near family after they separate from their spouse.
Sometimes marriages do not work out but for a variety of reasons but both parties do not wish to file for a divorce based on personal reasons or religious beliefs. An alternative to divorce is to file for legal separation. Filing for legal separation is not a requirement prior to filing for divorce. However, a legal separation can resolve many of the same issues as a divorce, such as division of property, spousal maintenance, and child custody (visitation). Unlike a divorce, neither party may remarry while legally separated.
A divorce is initiated by filing a petition for divorce in the proper court in the county where at least one spouse resides along with a filing fee. A copy of the petition and summons must be personally served on the other party by a neutral third-party over the age of 18.
After the other party files a response, the parties shall engage in a process known as discovery to gather evidence. Parties to a family law case are required to provide full financial disclosure to the other party. Each party has the right to additional discovery that may include written interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and depositions.
Many divorce cases are settled in a process known as mediation. Mediation is required in all family law cases unless the Court orders otherwise. Mediation is an opportunity for both sides to present ideas to a neutral, third-party mediator in an effort to reach an agreement. Participation in the mediation process is mandatory, but any agreement must be reached voluntarily.
Many divorces fall under the categories of “uncontested" or "default” divorces. In a default divorce, one party fails to participate in the case and the Court proceeds to divorce the participating party. In an uncontested divorce, the parties have agreeably divided all their property, have come to an agreement on child custody and parenting time if applicable, and have signed a separation agreement. Many divorces are uncontested when the parties have no minor children and have already divided all their personal property during the separation process. Sometimes, if a divorce is uncontested, parties do not have to appear before the Court. However, if parties to an uncontested divorce want the Court to decide issues relating to minor children without the appearance of the parties before the Judge, both parties must be represented by an attorney. Call Brett to discuss how he can help ease the process of your divorce, even if you and your spouse agree on most issues.
If a case cannot be settled prior to a hearing, the case will be heard by a Judge. If the parties are contesting which parent should have primary custody of the parties' minor children, each side will have an opportunity to present evidence about why they are seeking child custody. All decisions regarding child custody and parenting time are made on the basis of your child's best interests. If either person in a divorce case or an allocation of parental responsibilities is seeking child support or spousal support, a court will expect him or her to present evidence regarding both parties' income and earning potential.
A divorce becomes finalized when a Judge signs a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. Should a party wish to revert to a maiden name, a provision regarding the name change can be included in the final Decree. After the divorce has been finalized, a certified copy of the final decree can be taken to the state revenue office and sent to the state department of vital records and the Social Security office so that important documents for identification can be reissued.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Colorado Springs, Colorado
For more information about your unique family law issue, contact Colorado family law attorney Brett Chalmers today to schedule a free phone consultation.