What to Know Before You Start Your divorce in Colorado – An Overview
As common as marriage and divorce are, every state has different laws about what you need to do when joining together and separating. Here’s what you need to know as you consider filing for divorce in Colorado:
1. You or your spouse must have lived in the state for over 91 days – essentially three months – before you can file for divorce in Colorado. Keep in mind as well that once documents are submitted, the earliest that a dissolution of marriage can be finalized is after another 91-day waiting period. (Also know that filing for legal separation is just as involved as requesting a divorce – time, paperwork…everything.)
2. Collect the information you’ll need to support your petition for divorce. Even if the separation is amicable, you will need to document income, tax returns, debt, bank statements…the list goes on. Understand also that if you need the help of an attorney, they will need access to all of this information.
3. You will need to file your case in either the county that you or your spouse lives in, if you no longer live together. (An attorney can help with this decision – there may be advantages to filing in one county or another if you are living separately.) There will be associated fees to submit the forms, and there may also be additional paperwork needed.
4. The decision to file by yourself or with your spouse can only be made by you, but your attorney can advise you on the best way to file. If the case is not amicable, or if the other party does not want a divorce, filing the petition and serving it on the other party is the only answer.
5. Once you have filed for divorce, you must attend the Initial Status Conference within 42 days of filing. The Family Court Facilitator will give you information about what you will need to do during proceedings, but be aware that they cannot give you legal advice.
6. Last but not least – it goes without saying that all of the above becomes exponentially more complicated when children are involved. Custody, visitation, child support, maintenance payments, and more will all need to be negotiated and decided upon, either by you and your spouse or the judge in the case.
Understand that these are only the most basic guidelines to be aware of as you start the process. While it is not necessary to enlist the services of an attorney to complete a divorce in Colorado, working with legal counsel may alert you to situations that can be very difficult to change once a judgment is reached.