Maybe you’re in an unhappy marriage and you’re asking yourself: when is a divorce final in Colorado? The best case scenario is a minimum of 91 days for a court to grant a divorce to a couple. However, numerous factors can make this process longer, such as child support, child custody, property division, and delays over domestic disputes. Because of these factors and more, the average Colorado divorce process usually concludes between six to 12 months. If you want the quickest, smoothest divorce possible, attorneys at Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton can help. Call us today at 303-951-4506 to schedule a consultation.
Basic Requirements for a Colorado Divorce
In order to begin a divorce in a Colorado court, one or both spouses must meet these requirements:
- One of the spouses must have been a Colorado resident for the last 91 days
- 91 days has passed since the other spouse received divorce papers
- Colorado must have personal jurisdiction over the respondent spouse
- The couple’s children must have been Colorado residents for at least 181 days
As long as the spouses fulfill the first two bullet points, the court can begin the divorce or legal separation process. However if the last two bullet points aren’t fulfilled, the court may not divide marital assets and debts, issue parenting orders, or direct the other spouse to pay child support or alimony. But the court may still begin the divorce process.
Necessary Forms to File for Divorce in Colorado
Before you actually file for divorce, you need to get paperwork together including the petition for dissolution, the case information sheet, the summons, and any other fee waiver document. Your spouse will then be served with these documents.
What if My Spouse Doesn’t Want a Divorce?
Colorado is a “no fault” state, meaning you can get a divorce even if your spouse doesn’t want to. If your spouse is basically refusing divorce, you must attend a court-ordered mediation, alternative dispute resolution, or counseling with your spouse.
How Are Assets Divided in a Colorado Divorce?
In short, Colorado is a marital property state. This means that all marital assets and debts should be divided equally between the two spouses when they divorce.
Colorado Divorce Timeline
To fully answer the question: when is a divorce final in Colorado? It’s crucial to know the entire timeline of a divorce. This is what you need to know from start to finish.
For starters, you have to file a divorce petition with a local court. Secondly, you have to serve the documents to your spouse. Once your spouse receives the paperwork, the 91 day waiting period starts as the court makes a decision on your divorce request.
Once you file for divorce, you and your spouse will officially have 42 days to submit financial information to the court. However, the court can extend this deadline if needed.
Initial Status Conference
A couple must attend the Initial Status Conference together within 42 days of filing for divorce, as mandated by law. This meeting is basically the time to plan out the entire divorce with the judge so everything can move as quickly as possible.
During the 91 day waiting period, a court may issue temporary spousal and child support orders. Additionally, the court may issue temporary orders concerning the use of the marital home.
The next step in a Colorado divorce is attending settlement efforts such as parenting and mediation classes. If a couple can’t resolve their issues, their next step is a divorce trial. A divorce trial makes the entire process take significantly longer, possibly longer than a year. However, if a couple successfully resolves their issues and creates a divorce agreement, a court can then approve the agreement as a final order.
Depending on how quickly the divorce has moved along, the court may schedule a final hearing after the 91 day period or much later. During this hearing, you and your spouse will hear if the court has finalized your marriage dissolution.
What Factors Can Delay a Colorado Divorce?
As stated previously, there are multiple reasons why a divorce can last longer than 91 days, including the amiability of a couple, contentious issues, and legal separation to divorce.
The Amiability of the Couple
If you want to have the quickest divorce possible, it’s essential that both spouses are as agreeable and cooperative as possible. As shown above, an uncooperative couple in a mediation class will lead to a trial, which significantly extends a divorce process. The point of the mediation classes is for couples to work out their own final orders to cut down on court involvement. If the couple can’t make any amicable decisions during these classes, the court must involve itself. Therefore, a divorce will likely take longer to complete.
Issues like marital property, child custody, parenting time, and alimony can take a long time to work out, especially during a long-term marriage. For example, if a couple married for 30 years now wants to divorce, they will naturally have lots of shared assets that need division. In order to avoid a lengthy divorce due to these issues, couples should consider signing pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements.
Legal Separation to Divorce
Legal separation is different from divorce in Colorado, but very similar. The biggest difference between the two concepts is that those who are legally separated are still legally married. This means they still file joint tax returns and one or both spouses can’t remarry. Meanwhile, divorced couples have already legally dissolved their marriage. So they have a clean break to continue separate lives.
Because of this difference, legal separation can add more time onto a divorce. If you’re legally separated and you want to officially get divorced, you have to wait at least six months from the separation date before you can ask a court for divorce. The part that takes more time is potentially changing the terms of a separation decree before entering it into a divorce decree. If either spouse wants to save time, they can just convert the separation decree into a divorce decree without any term modification.
How Can Couples Make a Divorce Move Quicker?
If you’re actively searching the web to learn when is a divorce final in Colorado, your next question may be: how can I have the quickest divorce possible?
Do a Pro-se Divorce
Basically, this means you do the divorce yourself. You can gather all the necessary legal documents, fill out the paperwork, and basically handle your own divorce. A pro-se divorce can move quicker than a typical divorce. But this option may not be best for all couples. Tax and debt division, property division, child custody, and alimony, can complicate a pro-se divorce, making the process just as long as a regular divorce.
Have an Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is basically a divorce with no disagreement between a couple. As explained previously, an uncontested divorce concludes much quicker than a contested divorce.
Have a Mediated Divorce
A mediated divorce is when the spouses hire a Denver divorce attorney to help them work out their issues and prepare the correct paperwork. This is another possible quick divorce option because it keeps the couple out of court. A divorce with heavy court involvement will naturally take longer.
Are Annulments Possible in Colorado?
An annulment is a legal procedure within both secular and religious communities that basically invalidates a previous marriage. In other words, an annulment cancels a previous marriage as if it never happened. Annulments are very common within the Catholic Church. But in Colorado, marriages can also be deemed invalid if a spouse:
- Didn’t consent to the marriage due to mental incapacity or consumption of alcohol or drugs
- Was unable to consummate the marriage due to a physical incapacity and the other spouse didn’t know of the incapacity
- Married while they were still a minor and didn’t have parental permission to do so
- Entered the marriage based on the other spouse’s fraudulent act or representation
- Was threatened into the marriage
- Entered the marriage because of a joke or a dare
Call a Denver Divorce Attorney Today
It’s crucial to have a skilled and experienced Denver divorce attorney on your side to have the smoothest, quickest divorce possible. Attorneys at Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton will answer questions such as: when is a divorce final in Colorado? Along with any other questions you may have. Call us today at 303-951-4506 to schedule a consultation.