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Guide to Divorce Filing in Colorado

Understanding Colorado divorce law, along with the filing process your options, can help you protect your rights and interests as you end your marriage.

To help you figure out the next steps, the following provides some general, yet essential, answers to common questions about filing for divorce in Colorado.

Whenever you are ready for information and advice specific to your situation, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Fort Collins divorce lawyer at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC.

Contact for a 100% confidential divorce consultation with a 5-star Fort Collins divorce lawyer at The Cossitt Law Firm, LLC.

We have extensive experience representing clients in various types of divorce cases. Compassionate, skilled, and diligent, we can help you take the right steps to file for divorce and get through the process as favorably as possible.

What Are Grounds for Divorce in Colorado?

Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. This means that the only ground for divorce in Colorado is the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. In plain English, that means there is no hope of reconciliation. It also means that divorce papers don’t need to cite infidelity or other misbehaviors as the reason for dissolving the marriage.

Nevertheless, some marital misbehaviors (depending on what they are) may be very important later in a divorce case when it’s time to deal with certain issues, like the division of marital property or whether certain terms of a prenuptial agreement have been triggered.

Although divorcing can be one of the few things that spouse agree about, sometimes, parties don’t see eye to eye on this matter either. Whether there are disagreements over ending the marriage, the court may order spouses to participate in counseling, mediation, or arbitration.

When Should I File for Divorce—Now or Later?

The answer depends on your circumstances, needs, and objectives.

A Fort Collins divorce lawyer at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC can provide you with more specific advice after hearing the details of your situation. In absence of that, here are some general recommendations regarding when to file for divorce promptly versus when you would want to consider waiting to file for divorce.

When to File for Divorce ASAP

Do NOT wait to file for divorce if your safety or the safety of your children is in jeopardy. For instance, if there is a history and/or risk of domestic violence or abuse, it’s likely in your best interest to move forward with your divorce as soon as possible and seek protective orders (and potentially emergency custody orders if children are involved).

When You May Want to Wait to File for Divorce in Colorado

If there’s no danger or threat of danger to your (or your children’s) safety, waiting to file may be a good idea (or necessary) if:

  • You do not meet the residency requirements to file for divorce in Colorado: You or your spouse has to have lived in Colorado for at least 91 days in order to file for divorce in the state. If this residency requirement has not been met, you can file for legal separation until the requirement is fulfilled; then, you can convert the legal separation into a divorce once the residency requirement has been met.
  • You have not taken any steps to prepare for divorce: There are various steps you can take before filing for divorce to facilitate the process and protect your interests. This can include gathering financial records, inventorying your marital property, setting up your own bank account and/or P.O. Box, and making other moves in the pre-divorce planning stage. When you want or need time to get these ducks in a row, waiting to file can be a strategic way to strengthen a future divorce case.

Where Do I File for Divorce?

Generally, your divorce petition should be submitted to the family court in the county in which you or your spouse resides. If you (or your spouse) have maintained residency in another state and/or are in the military, you may have the option of filing for divorce in another state. Additional rules or requirements may apply in those cases.

A Fort Collins divorce attorney at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC can explain your options and advise you of the best place to file, based on your unique situation.

What Forms Do I Need to File for Divorce in Colorado?

The forms you need to officially file for divorce in Colorado (available here) will depend on the details of your case like (but not necessarily limited to) whether:

Once the proper divorce forms have been completed, they will need to be submitted to the court with any required supporting documents. In some cases, you may need to have court forms notarized before filing them.

What Supporting Documents Do I Need When I File for Divorce?

The paperwork you need to support a divorce petition (or response) typically pertains to the issues that are central to the divorce case. Depending on what those issues are, supporting documents for Colorado divorce petitions can include (and may not be limited to):

  • Bank statements, pay stubs, and tax returns
  • Credit card statements, mortgage statements, and other documentation regarding the marital debt
  • Insurance policy documents and/or retirement account statements
  • Business account statements, tax returns, and/or succession plans
  • Copies of prenuptial and/or post-nuptial agreements
  • Copies of wills and/or other estate planning documents
  • The parenting plan (if divorcing parties have already come to an agreement on custody)
  • The divorce settlement agreement (if the parties have already resolved the issues of their divorce)

Having all of the necessary supporting documents for your divorce can help move your case along. It may also set you up for a smoother road ahead or, potentially, lower divorce costs.

What If I Cannot Find These Documents?

Contact a lawyer for help. There may be alternative ways to track down the paperwork you need. In some cases, you may be dealing with a spouse who is intentionally trying to hide assets. Either way, having an attorney in your corner is the key to safeguarding your interests in these more complex situations.

What Are the Filing Fees for Divorce in Colorado?

It depends on the forms you need to file for your divorce case. While you can see more details about Colorado court filing fees here, keep in mind that:

  • As of 2021, Colorado court filing fees are roughly a couple hundred dollars (per action needed).
  • If you are filing for divorce and custody will be an issue, you will need to file forms for the divorce and the custody cases.
  • Divorce filing fees in Colorado are routinely updated.
  • Fee waivers may be available, based on financial need.

Once you file your divorce paperwork and pay the fees, you will be known as the “petitioner” in the case, and your spouse will be referred to as the “respondent.” You will also receive a Case Management Order (CMO), listing upcoming court dates, additional forms you need to complete, and/or other key information about your case.

What Happens After I File for Divorce?

Once you formally open a divorce case in Colorado, the next steps will depend on your situation and, specifically, whether your case is contested or uncontested. Here’s a look at how the divorce process usually moves forward after the initial petition has been filed.

1. You Serve the Other Party with a Copy of the Divorce Papers

If you are not filing for divorce jointly, you will have to make sure your spouse is served a copy of the divorce petition. Service should be done by a process server or some other disinterested (neutral) third party who is at least 18 years old. If your spouse cannot be located, you may “serve” the papers via publication, as long as you follow the specific rules for this type of service.

Once you have served your spouse, you will then need to file a form with the court to confirm that you have met this obligation.

2. You Wait for Your Spouse to File a Response

Once your spouse has officially been served with the divorce papers, (s)he will have 21 days to file a response if (s)he resides in Colorado. If your spouse lives out of state, the deadline for filing a response increases to 35 days.

The response should detail your spouse’s stance on the issues of your divorce. In particular, the response should explain whether your spouse agrees or disagrees with any aspect of your divorce petition. If there is any disagreement, the response should explain your spouse’s stance on the issue(s).

From here, the divorce process will depend on whether any issues of the divorce are still points of dispute:

  • If not, a final hearing may be scheduled, so that the final divorce decree can be issued to officially wrap up the case.
  • If so, the next steps may involve hearings, mediation, discovery, and more.

What Should I Do After I Have Been Served with Divorce Papers?

Contact a lawyer for professional counsel as you review your copy of the divorce petition and consider your options. As noted above, there is limited time to file a response, and your best move will depend on case-specific factors, as well as your needs and goals. The move you make at this stage, which will likely be one of the following, can change the course of your case:

  • You can do nothing if you agree with everything in the divorce petition. In this case, you can expect the court to grant the divorce, according to the terms in the initial petition; OR
  • If you do not agree with certain points, you can (and should) file a detailed response, refuting every point you disagree with.

Given that divorce can touch so many aspects of your life—and that the outcome of your case can have lasting impacts—you don’t want to gamble when it’s time to respond or deal with the case. You want a skilled lawyer in your corner. You want a Fort Collins divorce lawyer at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC.

Protect Your Interests, Family & Future in Divorce: Contact the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC

If you are preparing for divorce or need help resolving any family law issue, contact an experienced Fort Collins divorce lawyer at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC to find out more about your options and how we can help you.

Contact or email our firm for a 100% confidential consultation.

If you are unable to make it to our offices, we provide consultations via phone and Skype.

At the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC, our Fort Collins divorce attorneys are devoted advocates who exclusively focus on divorce and family law cases. We partner with each of our clients, providing personal attention and unique, practical solutions to fit their needs and help them achieve their long-term goals.

With the Cossitt Law Firm on your side, you can be confident that you have superior representation at every phase of your case. You can also count on our lawyers to:

  • Keep you informed about the progress of your case, as well as your options, at every step
  • Work tirelessly, both in and outside of the courtroom, to help you obtain positive outcomes.

From offices in Fort Collins, we represent clients throughout Larimer County and the state of Colorado.

1: Downloadable divorce forms from the Colorado Judicial Branch

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