Divorce is an experience that involves different types of emotions, but the process itself is usually quite simple. Start by completing the papers with the court and sending the corresponding copies to your spouse. However, divorce will be much easier if you can agree on the more important issues, such as child custody, child support, alimony, and division of marital property.
Part 1 of 3: Agree on the Biggest Issues
Step 1. Come to an agreement regarding custody of the children
If you have children together, sit down with your spouse to work out an agreement that addresses the following issues:
- Who will make the decisions for the children? This is known as legal custody and includes things like medical care, religious education, schooling, etc. Generally, the court will grant this power to both parties.
- Who will the children live with? Children generally spend most of their time with one parent, while the other visits frequently. You can establish a visitation agreement that is convenient for you.
Step 2. Agree on child support
Both parties must financially support their children. Generally, the parent other than the primary caregiver will have to pay child support to the other parent. The amount will depend on your income and the time you spend with the children.
The judge will use a formula to calculate child support. Generally, you will not establish a lower sum than that established through this formula. However, it is important to assess whether your children have special needs. A judge could award a higher amount in these circumstances
Step 3. Determine if either party wants to apply for alimony
In Colorado, spousal support is called spousal support. It is a sum of money that one spouse must pay to the other for a certain period. Spousal support can be temporary, last only through the divorce, or be awarded for a longer time.
In most cases, it is only possible to receive it if you have not been able to work because you are raising children, you have had a disability or for any other valid reason
Step 4. Divide the marital assets
These are property acquired as a married couple and include real property, vehicles, cash, stocks, bonds, and personal property. On the other hand, it does not include the property you had before the marriage or any inheritance received during it. Generally, Colorado judges consider anything acquired during marriage to be marital property. Try to reach an agreement with your spouse regarding the division of property.
The court will divide the property fairly or equitably. This does not mean that they are divided equally, especially if one of the spouses earns much more money than the other. In this case, the court could award the wealthiest spouse less marital property
Step 5. Divide the marital debts
As with property, marital debts must be divided. In Colorado, most of the debts incurred during the marriage are considered spousal, even though only one spouse signed for the debt. Since they are equally distributed, the party with the highest income could receive the highest debts.
- If you both have a similar income, you can divide the debts equally.
- You can also distribute them according to who has contracted them. For example, each spouse can pay off their student or car loans.
Step 6. Write a separation agreement
If you and your spouse come to an agreement regarding the issues mentioned above, it is important that you put it in writing. Write the separation agreement and get both parties to sign it.
The Colorado court provides model separation agreement templates that you can use. Download them along with the rest of the divorce forms
Step 7. Create a parenting plan
Each parent must file a parenting plan with the court. If you reach an agreement regarding custody of the children, you can submit a joint parenting plan. Otherwise, each one will have to present the plan that is most convenient for them. Download the template through the court's website.
Step 8. Consult with an attorney
If you and your spouse come to an agreement on the most important issues, it is unlikely that you will need to turn to a lawyer. However, a professional could advise you regarding any legal questions you may have or guide you in the event that you do not agree with the custody of the children, the spousal support or the division of assets.
- Use the Divorce Lawyer Referral Tool through the Colorado Bar Association website.
- If you cannot afford the fees of a professional, a family court facilitator may be able to help you. Click here to find the facilitator closest to you. Please note that the document is available in English. These people will be able to review your papers to make sure everything is completed, but they cannot replace legal advice from an attorney.
Part 2 of 3: Filing for Divorce
Step 1. Find the appropriate court
File the divorce in the county where you or your spouse reside. Remember that at least one of the parties must have lived in Colorado for at least 91 days.
You can't move to Colorado for 90 days just to get divorced. Instead, that state should be your permanent place of residence. This is also known as being domiciled in the state
Step 2. Get the divorce forms
The Colorado court has blank forms that you can fill out to make filing for divorce easier. You can download the form packets through the court's website or go to the court clerk's office to request a copy. These documents vary depending on whether they have children in common or not.
- If you don't have children, you can download the forms by clicking here (available in English).
- If you have children, you can download the forms by clicking here (available in English).
Step 3. Complete the forms
To initiate the divorce, you will need to complete a petition, a case information sheet, and a subpoena. Take the time to complete each form completely and accurately. Double check all the information to make sure you don't miss anything.
- You can also file for divorce jointly, in which case you will not have to complete a subpoena.
- Many forms must be signed in front of a notary public. You can find one in court. Carry valid personal identification, such as your passport or driver's license.
Step 4. File the forms with the court
Make two copies of the entire package: one for your records and one for your spouse. Bring the original documents and copies to give to the court clerk and request their presentation. You will also have to pay a fee. As of 2017, the value of the filing fee is $ 230.
In the event that you cannot afford the cost, you can request an exemption from payment that the judge will evaluate for approval
Step 5. Send the papers to your spouse
The other party has the right to respond to the divorce petition. For example, they may ask for child custody or alimony, or object to your request on the same issues. For these reasons, you should give him copies of the divorce papers.
- Your spouse could agree to receive the notification. In this case, you will need to complete a notice waiver or waiver and acceptance form and sign it in front of a notary public. You can download this form through the court's website. If your spouse waives the service, you can give them a copy of the papers.
- Otherwise, you will have to make the corresponding arrangements for the delivery of the notice. You can usually hire a service of service or use a bailiff for shipping and pay a small fee. You can also ask a person over 18 to hand-deliver the document, as long as they are not a party to the divorce.
Step 6. Complete the rest of the forms
After serving the papers, you will need to file other forms, such as financial affidavits, and sign them in front of a notary public. You can download all of these documents through the court's website or request them at the clerk's office.
You will need to send copies of these forms to your spouse and file the originals with the court
Part 3 of 3: Completing the Divorce
Step 1. Read your spouse's response
The other party can file an answer to the divorce petition. You will receive a copy that you should read carefully. Evaluate whether it requires custody of children, alimony, or division of assets.
Step 2. Attend the case conference
If you cannot agree on certain issues, the divorce will be contested and you may have to attend a case conference. This will be determined by an agent of the court. In this meeting, you will have to address the issues on which they do not agree. If you have to attend a conference, the court will inform you of the documents to present.
Step 3. Access mediation to resolve disputes
The judge may require you to participate in mediation. In this case, you will need to talk to a neutral third party (the mediator) about the dispute. The professional is trained so that people understand each other and reach an agreement.
Mediation saves time and money, if you can reach an agreement on all the issues, so it is important that you do as much as you can
Step 4. Finalize a divorce by mutual agreement
In this case, the court will approve the divorce after you file an affidavit. This will generally prevent you from having to appear in court.
From start to finish, completing a divorce takes at least 90 days
Step 5. Finalize a contested divorce
No two contested divorces are the same. However, you may have to attend court on a regular basis (in some cases, even once a month). The process will culminate in a disputed hearing of all the issues that you and your spouse cannot agree on.
- During the disputed hearing, you can present witnesses. For example, if you want to demand custody of your children, you can bring people to testify about your relationship with the children.
- You may have to testify on your own behalf. If you have an attorney, the professional will help you prepare your testimony. Otherwise, you will need to prepare a statement to deliver to the court.
- Colorado is a "no fault" state. This means that the only accepted ground for divorce is that you and your spouse no longer want to be together because of irreconcilable differences.
- If you have children together, you may need to attend a parenting training class before receiving a divorce decree. Check with the court.