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Guide to Responding to Divorce Papers

Being served with divorce papers can raise a lot of questions about what you need to do next in order to protect your interests. What to do next, and knowing your options can be essential to taking the right steps – and avoiding costly mistakes – as you respond to the divorce petition and continue through the process.

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The Fort Collins divorce attorneys at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC are ready to discuss your situation and explain your options for responding to a divorce petition. We are also ready to immediately start protecting your interests and to work relentlessly to help you achieve your goals in divorce.

In the meantime, please explore the rest of this page for important information about how to respond to divorce petitions in Colorado.

What Are My Options If I Don’t Want a Divorce?

If you do not feel that your marriage is irretrievably broken, you can explain this in your divorce response. When there are disagreements about the possibility of reconciliation, you can request counseling and/or mediation to try to work out the dispute. The court may also order counseling, mediation and/or arbitration (independent of a spouse’s request).

If you and your spouse still disagree about reconciliation (after pursuing counseling, mediation and/or arbitration), the court will usually recognize that the marriage is irretrievably broken – meaning that the divorce will move forward.

How to File a Divorce Response

Once divorce papers are served in Colorado, you have 21 days from the date of service to file a response. The official court form for filing a divorce response in Colorado is available here.

Your response is effectively an “answer” to the initial divorce petition. In it, you have the opportunity to explain your side and how you stand in terms of the issue(s) in the divorce case.

Specifically, your divorce response can:

  • Agree with the issue(s) in the initial petition – If you agree with everything your spouse has stated and asked for in the initial divorce petition, you can proceed with an uncontested divorce. These types of divorce cases tend to be resolved faster than contested divorces.
  • Disagree with any issue in the initial petition – If you object to any detail or request that your spouse has included in the initial divorce petition, you should clearly explain your stance and request(s) regarding the disputed issue(s). Commonly, disputed issues in divorce cases include (but may not be limited to):
    o What constitutes marital assets
    o How the marital assets are divided
    o How legal and physical custody of a child should be divided
    o Whether support payments should be awarded or how much support payments should be.

How Long Do I Have to Respond to Divorce Papers?

21 days from the date you were served with the divorce papers.

This 21-day deadline for responding to a divorce filing applies if both spouses are in Colorado. If the respondent lives outside of Colorado, the window to file a response will be extended to 35 days.

If you are not able to prepare and submit your response within the 21 (or 35) days allowed:

  • Extensions may be available: File a petition with the court to request an extension if you need more time to get your response ready. When this request is made, a hearing may be set to determine whether or not the extension should be granted.

  • Not taking action can result in a default judgment: Ignoring the deadline for filing a divorce response can be a big mistake if you disagree with anything your ex stated in the initial divorce petition. The reason is that, if you don’t respond or ask for an extension, the court will generally assume that you agree with everything in the initial petition and, in turn, grant the divorce, according to the terms laid out in that petition.

The bottom line is that the clock starts running once you have been served with divorce papers—and it’s always in your best interests to react and respond while you have time and the case is open, instead of waiting until the response deadline has expired and a default judgment has been granted.

If, however, you truly agree with the terms laid out in a divorce petition, then there is no need to respond. That petition can serve as the basis of your divorce agreement, with the court reviewing and issuing a final divorce decree based on those terms. This can be the path for uncontested divorce cases in Colorado. Even with these cases, however, the counsel of an attorney can be critical to ensuring that all bases have been covered and that the agreed-upon terms are accurately and appropriately detailed in the petition or divorce settlement agreement.


What If Miss the Deadline for Filing My Divorce Response?

If you fail to file your divorce response within 21 days of being served, the court will assume that you agree with the initial petition. That commonly means that failure to respond to a divorce petition will result in a court awarding the petitioner (i.e., the spouse who initiated the divorce filing and case) what (s)he has requested in the initial petition.

Where Should I File My Divorce Response?

Your divorce response should be filed with the court where the initial divorce petition was filed by your spouse. Generally, this will be the family court in the county where you or your spouse resides.

What Happens after I File My Divorce Response?

Once your divorce response is filed, the next steps in the process will vary, depending on whether the case is:

  • Uncontested – When no issues are disputed in divorce, the case can be fast-tracked to the final hearing and the issuance of a formal divorce decree.
  • Contested – When any issue of a divorce is disputed, additional hearings (and/or other proceedings) will typically be scheduled in an effort to resolve the dispute(s) and hammer out a divorce agreement.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me with a Divorce Response?

Yes, if you are serious about protecting your interests as you proceed with divorce, having the representation and guidance of an experienced lawyer – like a divorce attorney at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC – is necessary.

That is because a lawyer can:

  • Inform you of your rights and options
  • Help you complete all necessary court forms and properly submit them within the required deadlines
  • Advocate and advance your interests at every stage of your divorce case
  • Work diligently to help you achieve your goals and bring your divorce case to the best resolution possible.

Even if you are planning to proceed with an uncontested divorce, a lawyer can provide indispensable advice regarding the proposed divorce agreement, informing you whether or not it really will serve and protect your interests in the future.

Get Experienced Help Protecting Your Interests in Divorce: Contact a Fort Collins Divorce Lawyer at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC

If you are preparing for divorce or need help resolving any family law issue, don’t hesitate to 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.

Call (970) 488-1887 or email our firm to set up a 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 attorneys are dedicated advocates who partner with each of our clients to devise custom, practical solutions that fit their needs, circumstances and goals. With extensive experience handling various types of divorce cases, we have the insight and skills you can count on for superior representation throughout the course of your divorce case.

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


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