If you’re considering divorce, or if your spouse has already filed for divorce, your attorney will most likely encourage you to reach agreements with your spouse on your own rather than taking him or her to court. That’s because litigation is costly and time-consuming – and when you force the judge in your case to reach a decision without agreeing to it first, you’re more likely to feel like you “lost.”
When you and your spouse agree on all the major issues in your divorce without going to court, you may be eligible for what’s called an uncontested divorce.
An uncontested divorce typically means that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have agreed on all the major issues, including:
Colorado law refers to an uncontested divorce as decree upon affidavit, which means a judge can sign your divorce paperwork without you having to argue over the details in court. You must also file certain paperwork with the court, including a:
- Parenting plan
- Proposed decree
- Proposed support order
- Separation agreement
Why Do People Want an Uncontested Divorce?
Uncontested divorces are typically simpler and more cost-effective than contested divorces are. When couples can’t agree, they need to hash out the details in court – that’s called a contested divorce.
In a contested divorce, a judge has to examine all the evidence, which can include extensive financial records or expert testimony from psychologists and other professionals. One spouse may try to bring up the couple’s “dirty laundry,” alleging infidelity or otherwise trying to discredit the other spouse. Court battles like these can be incredibly difficult on both parties. Contested divorces usually cost quite a bit more money, because you’re each paying your attorneys to research, put together legal documents as evidence and represent you in the courtroom. Even worse, they take more time; you have to wait to get on the court’s calendar, and if something goes wrong at one hearing, you’ll have to schedule another.
Uncontested Divorce: Requirements
Not everyone qualifies for an uncontested divorce. Naturally, people who can’t agree on things like parenting plans and how to divide their property won’t qualify – they’ll have to show up in court.
These are the requirements for an uncontested divorce in Colorado:
- You or your spouse must have lived in Colorado for at least the past 90 days
- You and your spouse must not have property to divide, or you must have signed a separation agreement that is fair to both of you
- You and your spouse must agree that your marriage is irreparable
- You and your spouse must not have any minor children, and the wife must not be pregnant
- You and your spouse must sign a separation agreement that accounts for child custody and visitation, as well as child support if you do have minor children
If you’re not sure whether you’d qualify for an uncontested divorce, it’s a good idea to talk to a Fort Collins divorce attorney who can give you case-specific advice.
How Does an Uncontested Divorce Work?
An uncontested divorce still requires you to go through a legal process, but it’s generally a lot easier than the process that a contested divorce requires. You don’t have to go to court, but your attorney still has to file your divorce paperwork with the court and arrange for someone to serve your spouse. The judge will then decide if you need to attend a hearing.
Filing Your Divorce Paperwork
Your lawyer will file an affidavit with the court in the county where you live. (If your spouse has already filed for divorce, you’ll need to talk to your attorney about the next steps for you.)
Serving Your Spouse
You only have to serve your spouse if you file the affidavit by yourself. If you file it jointly with your spouse, you don’t have to deliver a copy to him or her.
Attending a Hearing
The judge assigned to your case will decide whether or not you need a hearing. If you don’t, the judge will sign your decree, which legally dissolves your marriage. If you do, your attorney will go to court with you. Sometimes judges just want to ask questions or address a separation agreement that he or she wants to ensure is fair.
Do You Need to Talk to a Fort Collins Lawyer About an Uncontested Divorce?
If you’re thinking about pursuing an uncontested divorce, we can help you. Call us at 970-488-1887 for a consultation with an experienced divorce attorney in Fort Collins right now. We’ll answer all your questions and explain spousal maintenance, property division, child custody and other aspects of divorce so you can get the peace of mind you deserve.