A divorce can take a mental and emotional toll on everyone involved. Unsurprisingly, many couples who go through a divorce want the process over as soon as possible. While couples can do certain things to expedite the process, such as decide matters of child custody and asset division without litigation, Colorado sets certain time limits for a divorce proceeding. Learn about the divorce process and how long it takes an average couple to finalize a proceeding in Colorado from a Fort Collins divorce attorney.
Laws Surrounding Divorce in Colorado
The duration of a divorce proceeding varies widely depending on the circumstances. However, all divorces in Colorado have some key elements in common. For example, the initial steps of a divorce require a 90-day window. To begin a divorce proceeding, one spouse files a summons and petitions the court for the action, and the other spouse receives notice, or is served. After a spouse formally receives a petition for divorce, the couple must observe a minimum of 90 days before the courts will grant the request. In some cases, a couple may formally finalize a divorce and receive a decree in 91 days.
During this 90-day waiting period, other deadlines also apply. For example, each couple has 20 days from the initial filing to disclose financial information to the court. If either spouse neglects to provide financial disclosure within this time frame, the window extends to 40 days. Depending on the circumstances, the courts may grant other orders and provisions that could extend the divorce process.
At the shortest, a divorce in Colorado can take around 3 months to finalize. However, this applies to only the simplest of proceedings that do not involve children or other matters that could extend the proceeding. On average, a Colorado divorce takes closer to 6-12 months.
Factors Affecting Length of the Divorce Proceeding
A number of factors exist that might affect how long a divorce takes to finalize:
The length of the marriage. Couples who have a long marriage typically have more shared assets, which could take more time to divide up.
The net worth of the spouses. Generally speaking, the higher the net worth of the marriage, the longer a divorce will take to finalize. A high net worth divorce lawyer will work out the property division through negotiations that take quite some time with your partner’s attorney. The exception is when both parties agree to a pre- or post-nuptial agreement.
The amicability of the proceeding. If both parties agree the marriage is over, then it’s generally simpler to divide assets and finalize the process. However, if one spouse does not agree to the dissolution of marriage or infidelity preceded the filing, this could lead to more contention and delay the process.
How Couples Can Expedite the Process
A divorce can take a year or more to finalize, depending on the circumstances. However, couples can take certain steps to help the process along and finalize the divorce sooner:
Avoid litigation if possible. The most contentious divorces end up in court, but many couples can avoid this by electing a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, such as mediation. Using a neutral third party, couples can reach compromises involving custody, visitation, and asset division without waiting for a court date.
Keep emotions out of it. Tempers can run high in a divorce proceeding, but they have no place in the negotiations. Withholding or refusing to compromise out of spite only lengthens the time until resolution.
A couple seeking divorce in Colorado can expect 3 to 12 or more months to finalize the process. On the other hand, each party can take action to expedite the proceeding as much as possible.