Going through a divorce can be a long and involved process. One of the first steps is to officially file for divorce, which starts the legal process and puts things into motion.
Before filing for divorce, you should know that Colorado is a “no-fault” state, meaning misconduct or fault aren’t considered in the divorce proceedings because the only ground for divorce is an “irretrievable breakdown” in the relationship. You can file the forms on your own or with the help of a lawyer.
- The first step is to prepare your forms. Divorce forms are available on the Colorado Judicial Branch website, but note that different forms are required if there are children involved or not. Forms also depend on whether you are initiating the divorce or you are the spouse being served with the divorce papers. Most people filing for divorce end up completing multiple forms, including a case information sheet, petition for dissolution of marriage, financial statement, and more. Every affidavit and sworn statement needs to be notarized and must include your signature to be valid.
- Once the forms are complete, keep a copy for yourself and take the other set to the local courthouse. Most counties require the case information sheet, summons, and petition. You’ll also need to pay the Colorado filing fee of $195, although you can file a motion to waive the fee if a judge finds you in financial need. The court clerk will provide you with a copy of the forms, a case management order, and instructions how your next steps.
- After the forms are filed, you need to serve the forms on your spouse as quickly as possible. This means either delivering the forms directly to your spouse’s home address (if they don’t have a lawyer) or serving your spouse’s lawyer at his or her office. In either case, either a Waiver of Service or an Affidavit of Service will need to be obtained and filed with the Court.
Once the papers have been filed and served, your case is subject to the Case Management Order and any other deadlines or court dates mandated by the Court.
Although it is possible to file divorce papers on your own, hiring an experienced lawyer can make the process run much more smoothly, especially when there are so many emotions involved. An experienced lawyer will have worked with dozens or hundreds of divorce cases know the legal system inside out to give you quality outside representation and make sure your complete the paperwork correctly and are accurately portrayed throughout the entire process. When it comes to filing for divorce, don’t do it on your own. Hire an experienced divorce lawyer you can trust to always be in your corner.