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The Divorce Process
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
To begin the divorce process in Colorado, one party must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (“Petition”) with the proper Court. Once the Petition is filed, the other party has 21 days to file a Response, or 35 days if served out of state.
Response to Petition for Dissolution Marriage
The Response must assert any additional claims the Responding party has such as maintenance, (otherwise known as alimony). The failure to timely request additional claims, such as maintenance, can result in the permanent waiver of such claim. Therefore, it is extremely important to timely assert all claims in your Response.
Within 42 days of service of the Petition, both parties must exchange the required financial disclosures, including a Sworn Financial Affidavit. Parties are required to file a Certificate of Compliance with C.R.C.P. 16.2(E) upon completion of financial disclosures.
Initial Status Conference
Within 42 days of filing for divorce, you will have an Initial Status Conference with the Court. This is usually an informal meeting to let the court know the issues involved in your case. However, sometimes you can also use this conference to request immediate orders. For example, you can request the Court order the other party to continue paying certain bills or to restore any assets to savings and checking accounts that one party might have taken just before, or just after, the Petition for Divorce was filed.
After you have had your Initial Status Conference and completed your Financial Disclosures, you and your spouse can have a Temporary Orders hearing to put into place a temporary plan regarding financial matters such as the payment of the mortgage, utilities, credit cards, car payments, child support, and possibly maintenance. The court will also determine a temporary parenting plan. The Temporary Orders are just that – temporary. The Temporary Orders will remain in place until Permanent Orders are issued.
To prepare for Permanent Orders, either party can serve Discovery on the other party. Discovery typically includes Interrogatories and Requests for production of Documents. Interrogatories are written questions that you must answer under oath. Requests for Production of Documents are just what you would think – a request to turn over to your spouse relevant documents that you either have or are in your control.
At least 35 days before your Permanent Orders trial, you must go through mediation.
Mediation provides you and your spouse an opportunity to try to settle some, or all, of the issues in your case without going to trial.
If the case settles during mediation, the agreements reached during the Mediation are filed with the Court and the Court is asked to approve the agreement. Once the Court approves the agreement, the dispute is resolved and the trial is cancelled.
If you are unable to resolve the various matters in your case through Mediation, the case will proceed to trial and the Judge will decide your case. Although it is usually in your best interest to resolve your case without going to trial, there are times when the parties cannot reach an agreement. In those cases, the only option is to go to trial.
If a party is not satisfied with the decision made by the Court, the decision can be appealed. However, the Court of Appeals rarely overturns the decision of Court.
Post Trial or Post Decree Modifications
If your circumstances change after your divorce, you can return to Court to modify any prior orders issued by the Court. For example, a change in earnings might allow you to go to Court to change child support, parenting time, or maintenance.
Glen B. Goldman
Emily T. Roberts
Douglas A. Thomas