Colorado is classified as a “no-fault” state in terms of divorce, which means you only need to show that your marriage is irretrievably broken. Fault or misconduct are not included in the initial divorce paperwork, but fault-based arguments may be taken into consideration when awarding spousal support and dividing property.
You must, however, meet the state’s residency requirements. This means you must have lived in Colorado for at least 90 days prior to filing for dissolution of marriage. Also, you must file for dissolution in the county where you reside.
Preparing and Filing Your Forms
Divorce forms are readily available on the Colorado Judicial Branch website. Different forms are needed if there are children involved in the divorce, as well as if you are the spouse initiating the divorce or if you are being served with the divorce papers. These are considered official forms, but it may be best to call your local court to confirm these will be accepted by the judge.
Among the forms you need to complete are a petition for dissolution of marriage, a case information sheet, and a financial statement. If you are not filing a joint divorce, you will also need to complete a summon for dissolution of marriage.
All affidavits and sworn statements must include your signature and must be notarized to be considered valid. Be thorough in responding to these questions, and write neatly and legibly if you are unable to answer these forms on a computer. You must also prepare a certified copy of your marriage certificate, which can be obtained from the town or city in which you were married.
Once you have completed the forms, make two copies of all documents. Keep the original for yourself and bring the other set to your court clerk’s office for filing. You’ll have to pay a Colorado filing fee, though you may be able to file a motion to waive the filing fee if the judge deems you in financial need. The court clerk will then give you a case management order, your copy of the forms, and instructions on the next steps to take.
Serving Your Spouse
The service of process is essential in the legal system as it ensures that all parties are given notice of what’s going on and are provided an opportunity to either appear or argue their respective points of view.
If you are the petitioner and your forms have been filed, you must then serve the forms on your spouse as soon as possible after leaving the courthouse. If your spouse has not hired an attorney, then you must serve the forms at your spouse’s place of residence. If your spouse has hired an attorney, then you must serve your spouse’s attorney at his or her office address.
If you serve him or her yourself, your spouse must sign the second page of your summons to establish that the papers were received. If another adult such as the county sheriff or private process server delivered the papers to your spouse, then that person must also sign and complete a section on the second page of the summons.
After you’ve made service, file your summons with the court. Colorado typically has a three-month waiting period for divorce, and this period only begins once your spouse has received the documents and your completed summons has been filed with the court.