Spouses considering divorce (or already going through it) naturally want the process to finish as quickly as possible. The divorce process, however, can get longer or shorter depending on the circumstances.
In Colorado, it takes a minimum of 91 days for the court to grant a divorce, starting from the filing of the initial petition. This is the quickest possible timeframe. Usually, certain family matters such as division of property and domestic disputes delay proceedings. While the smoothest divorce can be finalized in about three months, the average Colorado divorce actually takes about 6 to 12 months.
Timeframe Of A Colorado Divorce
- You must be a Colorado resident for at least 91 days before you can file for divorce.
- Initial filing and service. To begin the proceedings, you must file a divorce petition with the court and then serve (provide) the papers to your spouse. Once your spouse is personally served or otherwise waives service, the 91-day period of waiting begins as the court decides on your divorce request.
- Financial disclosure. From the date of initial filing, you and your spouse will have 42 days to submit to the court your respective financial information. This deadline can be extended with permission from the Court.
- Initial status conference. Also within 42 days (about six weeks) of filing, you and your spouse must attend the ISC, which is an important first meeting mandated by law.
- Temporary orders. Within the overall 91-day waiting period, the court may issue temporary orders to resolve issues such as spousal support, child support, temporary use of the marital home, attorneys fees, and any other relevant issue for the duration of the divorce process.
- Settlement efforts. After filing your case, you and your spouse must engage in required settlement efforts such as parenting class and mediation. During this time, some divorcing couples find that they cannot resolve their disputes, moving them to a divorce trial. Going through divorce litigation significantly extends the process, typically to more than a year.
On the other hand, couples with more amicable relationships may successfully mediate their issues, creating a stipulated agreement that the court can simply approve as a final order.
- Final hearing. The court will schedule a final hearing to take place after the 91-day period (or much later). This is when you and your spouse find out whether your marriage dissolution has been finalized by the judge.
Factors That May Delay A Colorado Divorce
Stance of either party
The amicability and cooperation of both spouses are essential to keep the divorce process short. An uncontested divorce may be expedited in Colorado, with some courts requiring only an affidavit from the couple, eliminating the need for a hearing. Mediation also speeds up a contested divorce. By contrast, an antagonistic, uncooperative, or extremely emotional attitude on the part of either spouse can hinder the process from concluding smoothly.
Highly disputed family matters include marital property or shared assets, parenting time, decision making and maintenance (alimony). These can take longer to iron out if the marriage lasted for many years – for instance, there may be plenty of shared assets to divide.
One way to avoid such delays is to have a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement, outlining the couple’s prior arrangements on these issues.
Converting legal separation to divorce
Being legally separated can also affect the divorce process. Legal separation and divorce are different in Colorado, although they very similar. The biggest difference is that spouses who are legally separated are still technically married, while those who are divorced have already dissolved their marriage in legal terms.
If you are legally separated and wish to completely terminate your marriage, you will have to wait six months from the date of legal separation before you can ask the court to convert it into divorce. The terms of your separation decree can then be entered into your divorce decree. However, if either spouse feels that there should be changes in the terms, there may have to be the additional step of modifying the decree before it is converted to divorce.
Despite the various ways a divorce can be delayed, you can take steps to ensure that it proceeds more smoothly. Talk to us at Goldman Law to see how you can make the divorce process efficient and with the least possible hassle to you and your loved ones.