A Guide To Divorce in Colorado
Divorce proceedings serve to resolve the affairs of a marriage before it is officially terminated, matters such as; finances (dividing assets and debts), property allocation and parental rights must be amicably resolved before the divorce process can be completed. For a divorce proceeding to be processed by Colorado courts at least one party involved would have had to be a resident of Colorado for the past 90 days.
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
The process of divorce begins when a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed, usually by the petitioner’s Family Lawyer. This petition is fundamentally a notice that would be served to one spouse (Respondent), from the other spouse (Petitioner), and will entail specifications that the respondent will either agree or disagree with in proceeding with the dissolution of marriage.
The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage will be in the format of paragraphs that provide statements or outline stipulations regarding the affairs that require a resolution in order to dissolve the marriage. The respondent can disagree with any of the terms or statements in the petition for dissolution of marriage if they deem any of the terms unjust or erroneous.
Resolving discrepancies in divorce petition
Disagreements regarding any of the terms set forth in the petition will require further arbitration inclusive of court hearings to arrive at an equally satisfying or final judgment on the issues surrounding the divorce. Upon service of the petition, both parties are able to schedule an Initial Status Conference with the court.
Initial Status Conference
The Initial Status Conference is a court date set by either party as specified in the petition; the other party is then contacted by mail and notified of the court date. At this court appearance deadlines will be set for;
- Providing requested financial documents.
- Appointing experts necessary for proceedings, such as a financial expert.
- Appointment of a Child and Family Investigators (CFI).
- Completion of stipulated courses.
At the Initial Status Conference a date will also be set for the next court appearance which is the Temporary Orders Hearing, as well as for a review of the case within 90 days.
Settlement Conference & Temporary Orders Hearing
Prior to the Temporary Orders Hearing both parties are required attempt to mediate the issues at a Settlement Conference. It is necessary to resolve as many of the issues as possible at this stage, as time constraint will limit the amount of arguments the court can review within the 1 hour allotted for the Temporary Orders Hearing. Issues that are primarily settled at a Settlement Conference include; guardianship and visitation time for children, household expenses and other temporary issues.
The Temporary Orders Hearing will proceed if a resolution of all issues was not reached at the Settlement conference. Both parties will then be required to attempt to mediate the conflicts that are preventing dissolution of the marriage through meeting at the Office of Dispute resolution at the court.
If mediation is successful a Stipulated Final Order Agreement is then filed and the Temporary Orders Hearing canceled. If an amicable agreement is not reach within 90 days then the final stage for dissolution of a marriage; the Final Orders Hearing will need to be scheduled so both parties may seek to have issue resolved in court.
Final Orders Hearing
Either party will be able to schedule the Final Orders Hearing within the 90 days period for resolving discrepancies. Once the court date is set both parties will state their arguments and a judge will rule in one parties favor.
The Final Order Hearing is therefore placing the final decision on issues that both parties are unable to agree on in the hands of the court. At the end of the Final Order Hearing all decisions regarding the affairs of the marriage would have been made and thus the marriage can be completely nullified and a Decree of dissolution entered into the records.
After the court signs the final paperwork with the rulings made and visitation is scheduled (where applicable), the divorce proceeding is complete.