What to Anticipate from Your Dissolution of Marriage in Colorado
Regardless of the reason for divorce or which party is requesting it, even if the dissolution of a marriage is uncomplicated, uncontested, and amicable, it is never an easy process. Not only are there quite a few steps that must be completed, but it is also an emotional process. The divorce process gets more complicated when there are decades of a marriage that is ending, children are involved, or there is property to divide. Colorado state divorce laws promote a fair or equitable distribution of assets and as equal allocation of parental responsibilities or “child custody” as possible. The Colorado courts also encourage couples to settle matters of divorce outside of court as much as possible. Additionally, Colorado is a no-fault state, meaning that there does not need to be a qualifying reason for the dissolution of marriage and a couple or either spouse can file for a divorce at will. All of these factors are aimed at making the divorce process as civil and painless as possible, but the end of a marriage is still a difficult process that takes time.
When you are getting a divorce in Colorado, it is a good idea to hire an experienced divorce attorney who has your best interest at heart to help you navigate the confusing process that is a divorce in Colorado. At The Law Offices of Petrelli Previtera, LLC, we know that nobody really wins in a divorce, which is why we focus on solutions rather than just winning litigation. As family lawyers, we focus on the family and finding the best outcomes for everyone involved. Contact us for your consultation today.
Steps to obtaining a divorce in Douglas County
From the initial filing to the final granting of a divorce, in Colorado the process will take 91 days at a minimum, as this is the mandatory wait time that is required by Colorado law. There are a number of steps that must be completed before the final divorce decree will be issued and your divorce considered final.
Dissolution of Marriage Petition
The first legal step in the divorce process is when the initial request form is filed. In Colorado, this is known as the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The Petition may be filed jointly if the spouses agree to the divorce. If both parties do not agree or one spouse is leaving the other, the initiating party must serve the other spouse. In Colorado, you “serve” the other person by hiring a process server — a neutral party who is over the age of 18 — to deliver an official copy of the Petition to your spouse. Once the spouse is served with the Petition, the receiving spouse has 21 days to file a Response. The Response can be as simple as they agree and the divorce will be uncontested t, or the spouse does not agree and there are disputes to be addressed by the Court
Initial Status Conference
The Initial Status Conference is an informal meeting that is usually held within 42 days of the Petition being filed. It is often held outside the courtroom with the Family Court Facilitator, or informally in the Courtroom with a Judge or Magistrate, where each side will have the opportunity to identify the major issues and disputes in the divorce case During the Initial Status Conference, the Court will set important dates such as hearings, trials, deadlines to exchange documents and other deadlines and timelines. The court will also evaluate requests from both parties regarding temporary orders for child and spousal support, parenting time, use of marital assets and payment of marital debts while the case is pending.
Temporary Orders Hearing
A temporary orders hearing may or may not happen during your divorce, depending on your family situation. The temporary orders hearing can happen at any time necessary in the timeframe between the initial petition filing to the final hearing. The temporary orders hearing is used to establish temporary custody, parenting time, spousal or child support, use of marital assets and payment of marital debts for the duration of the proceedings. It is important to remember that the temporary orders hearing and temporary orders issued by the Court are meant to establish a working solution while the final orders are being negotiated, which means that the final orders may be different. You should not count on temporary orders remaining the same as permanent or final orders..
Financial disclosure and discovery
Per Colorado state law, once a divorce process begins, each spouse is required to provide the other spouse with a full financial disclosure which details all debt, income, monthly expenses, and property or assets. These statements are used to help determine the division of assets and in spousal and child support negotiations. Documents that are required to be included are a Sworn Financial Statement, pay stubs, bank statements, tax documents, retirement and investment account statements, and debt documents. All documents must be submitted within 42 days of the initial dissolution of marriage filing.
Trial (if necessary)
If you and your spouse can’t agree on the final terms of your divorce, your case will move to a permanent orders hearing. How long the permanent orders hearing will take will depend on the issues that is involved as well as how well you and your spouse can work together to resolve issues and to identify the specific issues to be decided by the Judge,, D can be lengthy and expensive, so it’s best to work out your differences with your spouse before your case gets to the point of a final or permanent orders hearing. During permanent orders hearing, each party will have the opportunity to work with and be represented by a local divorce attorney or custody lawyer, so it is best to ensure that you are working with a good divorce law firm near you. If your divorce ends up in a permanent orders hearing, a Colorado family law judge will evaluate the evidence presented by both you and your spouse and make decisions for you that involve your children, your assets and debts and your financial obligations. It is important to understand that if your case does go to a permanent orders hearing that you will not be able to negotiate the judge’s final decision. The time for negotiations is before the hearing.
Decree of Dissolution of Marriage
In Colorado, the final orders entered by the Court are referred to as a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage and Permanent Orders. This final step of the divorce process finalizes the dissolution of marriage, and once issued by the Court, legally ends the marriage. The final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage can be issued 91 days after the initial Petition is filed if the parties are able to reach an agreement on all of the issues. Regardless of whether you were the one who requested the divorce or not, or how amicable or brutal the divorce proceedings were, when the divorce is final it can be an emotional time for both you and your spouse. The best family law firms will help ensure that you and your family is supported through this process.
For Colorado marriage annulment legal services in the greater Denver area, including Douglas County, contact the legal team at Petrelli Previtera, LLC today.
Special Circumstances For Divorce in Colorado
Just as no two people are the same, no two marriages are the same. Therefore it can easily be surmised that no two divorces will be alike. The Colorado divorce laws are fairly black and white, but life is much more grey. There are always the exceptions or special circumstances. When you are going through a divorce, it is important to have legal divorce counsel that understands your circumstances.
Many people are under the false assumption that an annulment is a quick and easy way to end a short marriage. However, an annulment, or Declaration of Invalidity as it is called in Colorado, is actually the process of voiding a marriage. Because Colorado is a no-fault state, annulments are not commonly granted, but if there is a qualifying factor your marriage may be annulled. For a marriage to be annulled, it would have had occurred under false pretense and meet one of these criteria:
- One of the spouses was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of marriage and therefore, unable to consent;
- One of the spouses lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage and this fact was unknown to the other spouse at the time of marriage;
- One spouse was under the age of consent and did not obtain legal parental consent to marry;
- One of the spouses fraudulently represented themselves and the misrepresentation was the grounds for marriage (i.e. for illness, green card, or financial gain);
- One or both spouses married under duress; or
- The marriage is void based on bigamy, polygamy, incest, or any other unlawful act of marriage.
When a marriage is annulled, it legally voids the marriage Although the process sounds much more simple than a divorce, it can often be just as complicated and should be navigated with the help of an experienced divorce attorney.
An uncontested divorce is one in which both spouses agree to the dissolution of marriage and the terms of separation. An uncontested dissolution helps to expedite the process and reduce the stress and angst that can occur during a traditional divorce process, however, it is still wise to have a consultation with a divorce attorney to ensure that you understand the process and are well-armed to proceed with the dissolution of your marriage properly. Divorce lawyers near you can help you navigate the process from the initial petition to the final decree.
Divorce With Children
A divorce that involves children is almost guaranteed to be an emotional rollercoaster and involves a more involved and extensive process to ensure that the interests of the children are properly cared for and provided for. You and your spouse will need a family law attorney that is well versed in child custody, child support, and divorce law to ensure the best outcome for all parties involved. You will want to make sure that you hire a legal team that is focused on finding solutions rather than just winning the case, especially when children are involved. After all, the bottom line is that your children are provided for.
Common Law Marriage
Colorado recognizes common law marriages in the same regard as a legal marriage. Despite common misconceptions, common law marriages are not dependent on the amount of time a couple lives together, but on the presentation of the relationship. If you and your spouse have represented yourself as a married couple and your friends and family know you as a married couple, you will be required to file for a dissolution of marriage to end the relationship. It is in your best interest to seek legal divorce counsel, in this case, to ensure that all of your rights and assets are protected.
In Colorado, state laws have provided limited recognition of same-sex relationships since 2009, included same-sex couple in civil union laws since 2013, and officially recognized same-sex marriages since 2014. While many people are still a little confused as to how marriage and divorce laws apply to same-sex couples, they are absolutely no different than any other marriage. A same-sex couple will petition for a dissolution of marriage and follow the same process and find legal help for divorce as any married couple seeking to end their marriage in Colorado.
Domestic Violence as the Cause of Divorce
When domestic violence is the cause of the divorce, it changes the divorce process quite a bit. Typically, one of the first orders of business in these cases is obtaining a protection order to ensure that every family member is safe. During the temporary protection order hearing, the child(ren) may be placed with the parent who is claiming domestic violence, but this may not be how the final order is written. If the child has not suffered any abuse and the abuser has proven to be a qualified parent, they may end up splitting parenting time with the child. And, of course, in cases of false allegations, there may be legal consequences for the party who filed false allegations. If there is domestic violence that puts a spouse and/or children at risk, the court system has a legal duty to protect the spouse and the children. In these cases, you will undoubtedly need an experienced family law attorney on your side who knows how to navigate the complicated process of domestic violence and divorce.
Prenuptial agreements can help to expedite the divorce process and mitigate the mess that a typical divorce can become. A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract that is drafted before a marriage that becomes effective when a marriage takes place. It declares the division of assets and the rights to any property as well as expectations between spouses. If your divorce includes a prenuptial agreement, you should still consider a divorce attorney consultation to ensure that all your rights are protected and the divorce is executed as it should be.
At the Law Offices of Petrelli Previtera, our divorce attorneys have more than 30 years experience in Colorado divorce, custody and other family law matters. Our expert legal team can help you navigate the divorce process, no matter your circumstances. To find out how we can help you, contact us to schedule your consultation today.
The Things No One Ever Tells You About Getting Divorced
Although most people who are going through a divorce process have gone through a breakup and are likely to have known someone who had gone through a divorce, you can never fully be prepared. A divorce, no matter how quick or uncomplicated it is, is difficult and there are many aspects that you may not be prepared for.
Dissolution of marriage is an emotional journey. It does not matter which party requested the divorce or why, it can be an incredibly emotional time to legally end your relationship. It is important to remember that during divorce proceedings not to let your emotions get the best of you. This is where expert divorce legal counsel comes in — offering a balanced, neutral approach.
Feelings of failure
It is normal to have feelings of failure when the relationship ends. Those opportunistic “what-if monsters” will clog up your emotions. Divorce is not a failure, it is simply the end of one relationship. It is important to remember the good times and the reasons you married to begin with. It is also important to remember that things and people change, and rather than failure, a divorce may signify growth.
Alternating feelings of relief and grief
Going back and forth between happiness and sadness, feelings of relief and overwhelming grief are all completely normal emotions to feel. During a divorce and immediately after is no time to make significant life choices until you have had time to process the emotional roller coaster that the dissolution of a marriage causes.
The divorce legal team at the Law Offices of Petrelli Previtera know more about the dissolution of marriage than just the legal aspect. Our legal team has more than 30 years experience in practicing family law in Douglas County and the surrounding areas. We know that no one really wins in a divorce and have witnessed the toll that divorce can take on a family. Our divorce attorneys focus on finding workable solutions for families rather than just winning litigation. While you may not be prepared for your divorce, we are, and we can help you navigate the overwhelming process — legal and otherwise. Contact us to schedule your divorce consultation and see how your local affordable divorce lawyer can help.