The process of filing for divorce is relatively similar across the country, but there are many specific procedural differences that exist from state to state. Generally, the Colorado court system is forgiving when it comes to ensuring that individuals can begin the process of filing for divorce.
Whether you have the aid of an attorney or are representing yourself in a divorce proceeding as a pro se litigant, you should be aware of the basic steps required in getting a divorce started in the state of Colorado.
- Figure Out Where You Should File
The state of Colorado requires that anybody filing for divorce must be a resident of the state. You may only file for divorce in the county wherein either you or your spouse reside. Whether it is you or your spouse, the court must be able to confirm that the individual filing for divorce has been a resident of the state of Colorado for at least 91 days prior to filing.
In addition to the residency requirement, those filing for divorce in Colorado must report to the court in the correct county. For information regarding which county you belong to, check the Colorado Judicial Branch website. If you file for divorce in the wrong county, you may have to start over again.
- Complete the Initial Paperwork and File it with the Court
The nature of the paperwork you must file with the court in order to begin your divorce varies depending on the facts of your case, the nature of your current marriage, and what you are seeking from the divorce.
First, you will have to consider whether you want to file for divorce jointly or independently. You and your partner may file jointly in certain circumstances, but it requires that you and your spouse agree on all of the terms of the divorce and that you are both present at the time of the filing.
The key difference between filing for divorce jointly as opposed to independently is that when you file for divorce independently, you do not have to complete a summons. A summons is a document provided to the other party that puts them on notice that they have been served with divorce papers and that the legal proceeding has begun. Service in this manner is required by Colorado law, but when you file jointly, either party can waive this service requirement.
Keep in mind that whether you file jointly or individually, you will have to pay the filing fee of $195. You may be eligible to obtain a waiver of the filing fee, which requires filing an additional form with the court – Form JDF 205. Upon reviewing your application for a waiver of the fee, a judge may or may not grant the waiver and allow you to file without paying the fee.
- Determine Whether You Should Get an Attorney
While many individuals take on the task of filing for divorce on their own, there are plenty of people who decide to hire an attorney at some point in the process.
Overall, determining whether you should hire an attorney truly depends on the facts of your case. Pro-se divorce may be realistic for spouses who have only been married for a short amount of time, do not have children, and are not seeking to impose any future obligations on the other party (such as alimony, also known as maintenance payments.)
Those who find themselves in more complex situations, such as lengthy marriages and marriages with children thereof, are more likely to want to consider hiring an attorney. Having a professional on your side not only ensures that the divorce goes smoothly and the best results are obtained, but it will certainly take some of the procedural weight off of your shoulders.
While filing for divorce seems easy on paper, it’s far from the truth. An experienced family law expert can help you through the entirety of the process to ensure that each step is completed with care. If you are interested in learning more about the process of filing for divorce in Colorado or are feeling ready to take the first steps, contact our family and divorce law specialists.
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