The divorce process is distressing, and most divorcing spouses want it over as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it’s a multi-step process that isn’t official until each step is complete and a judge signs off on the official divorce decree. In Colorado, the process typically takes 6 to 12 months, but there may be delays depending on how contentious each party becomes over the issues addressed, including separation of property, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance. Once the court schedules the final hearing, the divorce is official at the end of the hearing. But before the case comes to the point of the judge signing off on the divorce, spouses must follow the process from beginning to end.
Meeting the State’s Requirements for Filing for Divorce in Colorado
In order to begin the divorce process, at least one party must have been a Colorado resident for 91 days or more. Once the petitioner files for divorce in their jurisdiction, the papers must be legally served to the respondent. Once the other party responds to the petition, a mandatory 91-day waiting period begins. During this period, spouses should gather all required documents for financial disclosure. Both parties have 42 days to submit full financial disclosures to the state and to the respective attorneys. Parents with children should also use this time to begin researching Colorado’s various child custody and shared parenting time schedules to find one that works well for their family.
Attending the Initial Status Conference
Within 6 weeks of filing for divorce, both parties must attend an Initial Status Conference (ISC) during which they each inform the other side and the court of their issues and goals for the separation of their assets, support, and child custody. This is also the time for temporary or emergency orders addressing which party should remain in the home, temporary child support and/or spousal support, as well as temporary child custody and visitation orders to prevent undue financial burdens or child visitation issues while the divorce is in progress.
During the waiting period, the state urges both parties to come to mutually agreeable decisions on all matters of asset division and child custody as well as parenting schedules. They should also use the state’s child support calculator to get a rough idea of what a judge is likely to decide so they can come to terms on child support payments. Both spouses should attend negotiations with their attorneys present and may also use professional mediation. Mediators often have solutions to common problems that the spouses haven’t considered and can give an informed opinion on what a judge is likely to decide on each issue of contention should the matter go unresolved until the final hearing.
Attending the Final Hearing or Divorce Trial
If the divorcing spouses are able to come to fair and mutually acceptable decisions on their divorce agreement, the process moves to a final hearing. During this hearing, the judge may sign the agreement as it stands or may make some adjustments if he/she finds something unfair or not in the best interests of the children.
If both spouses were unable to come to terms on several issues, the final hearing becomes a divorce trial with both sides arguing their points along with their attorneys until the judge makes a decision on each issue.
At the end of the hearing or the divorce trial, the judge grants the divorce and both parties sign the final documents containing all court orders for asset division, child custody, and support payments. After the hearing, the divorce is official and the spouses are no longer married. It typically takes about two weeks for both parties to receive their copies of the final divorce decree. If you want to speak to a divorce lawyer call Law Offices of Stephen Vertucci and set up a consultation.