Colorado Divorce Process With Child Involved – Step by Step

colorado-divorce-process-with-kidsDepending on the circumstances of the case, the steps in the divorce process tend to vary slightly. For instance, if the couple hasn’t been married for long, or doesn’t own a lot of property, or has no children, the process will typically take a shorter time. 

On the other hand, if the couple has been married for a long time, has accumulated substantial marital property, and has children under the age of 18, the process will most likely be complex and lengthy. 

Steps for Divorce When you Have a Child in Colorado

During this time, it’s crucial to find an experienced lawyer who can provide expert legal representation. They’ll provide guidance and assistance in resolving complex issues such as child custody or child support. For those who have kids, a lawyer can also help with the following steps:

1. Requirements before Filing for Divorce

Colorado requires a petitioner to state that the marriage is irretrievably broken before they can obtain a divorce. To file, either party must be a resident of the state for at least 91 days prior to the filing date. 

2. File Joint Petition or File a Divorce Petition and Ensure Service

The spouses can file a joint petition if they agree to file together – by filing together, the parties start the 91-day waiting period that must be in effect before the Court can officially enter a divorce decree. Filing jointly, however, does not mean that all aspects of the divorce are agreed upon, it simply means that the parties are asking the Court to dissolve their marriage, jointly. If one spouse does not agree to the divorce or is dragging their feet with respect to signing papers, then the other spouse is free to file the Petition for Dissolution on their own and then serve the other side, using a process server

However, if the divorce is contested—which means that they’re unable to agree on one or more issues, the process will usually take several months (or even up to a year) to finish. The party who files the petition will need to serve the Petition and Summons onto their spouse. The other party will then have 21 days to submit a written response to the court.

3. Draft a Settlement Agreement/Parenting Plan

If both parties agree on major issues—such as property division, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance—they can create a settlement agreement and a Parenting Plan. These documents will outline the terms that they agree to. It is important to note that the Court retains jurisdiction over all child-related matters and must make findings that the Parenting Plan is in the child’s best interests. 

4. Attend Initial Status Conference/ Take Mandatory Parenting Class

Within 42 days of the filing of the case, the spouses and their lawyers will be required to attend an initial status conference with a judge or family court facilitator, depending on which county the petition is filed in. During this conference, the court will discuss important issues and set dates.

If the conference is held before a judge, the court may be able to hear requests for temporary orders or emergency relief on issues related to spousal or child support, for example. Otherwise, the court will set a date for a formal temporary orders hearing.

Additionally, whenever children are involved in cases, the Parents are required to take a Parenting After Divorce class. This class need not be taken together, however, it is roughly a four (4) hour course that is mandated by statute. A certificate will be issued at the completion of the class, which the parties must then submit to the Court. 

5. Submit Sworn Financial Statements

Within the 42-day period after service has been made, both parties are required to submit Sworn Financial Statements. These should include disclosures about each party’s assets, income, monthly expenses, and debt. 

6. Temporary Orders Hearing

Temporary orders may be necessary to provide both spouses with a measure of financial security while the case is still ongoing. Additionally, parties may seek temporary orders for parenting time as well as temporary use of the marital home. Temporary orders are in effect until the court issues permanent orders. They’re also not prejudicial to any spouse who may decide to litigate permanent orders.

7. Attend Mediation

Most courts will require the couple to attend at least one round of mediation to engage in good faith settlement discussions. During this process, the goal is to reach an agreement to avoid further court intervention. However, not all couples may be able to settle amicably. If they’re still unable to agree on certain terms, a court trial will be the next step.

8. Hearing for Permanent Orders/Trial

Trials can be lengthy and complicated. They can also cause emotional and financial stress on both parties. At the trial, the judge will hear evidence from the spouses. After hearing the evidence, the judge will decide on issues related to their finances and their minor children. 

When the trial concludes, the court will issue a decree of dissolution of marriage and enter substantive orders that both parties should adhere to.

Consult a Knowledgeable Colorado Divorce Attorney

Although it’s possible to file for divorce on your own and represent yourself in court, it’s highly recommended to hire a divorce attorney to handle things on your behalf. A competent and experienced Colorado divorce attorney will help you navigate the process and ensure that you’re making the right choices for you and your family. 

At Goldman Law, our team is ready to answer any questions you may have regarding the divorce process. We’ll handle the paperwork, deal with any emergent complications and problems, and take some of the load off your back. Contact us online or call (303) 656-9529 now to schedule a free and confidential consultation.