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Divorce In Colorado Springs

Divorce in Colorado SpringsDivorce is a challenging life event, and navigating the legal process can be overwhelming. If you’re residing in Colorado and considering divorce, it’s essential to understand the necessary steps involved.

The following information will guide you through the divorce process in Colorado and highlight the importance of partnering with an experienced divorce attorney like Patricia Perello in Colorado Springs.

Steps for Filing a Divorce in Colorado

Step 1: Residency Requirement

You must meet the state’s residency requirement before you can file for divorce in Colorado. This rule prevents people from forum shopping, which is when people try to find a state with more favorable laws for their situation.

In Colorado, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 91 days immediately before filing for divorce. You cannot just move to Colorado and file for divorce the next day; you must establish residency first.

Residency is typically proven by showing a Colorado driver’s license, a lease agreement, or utility bill with your Colorado address or by having a third party testify that you’ve lived in the state for the requisite period.

If you are serving in the military and are stationed in Colorado, you can also file for divorce in the state. However, the 91-day residency requirement still applies.

It’s also important to note that if you have children, Colorado must be their home state (where they have lived for at least six months) before the Colorado courts can decide about custody.

The residency requirement is a crucial first step in the divorce process, ensuring that the Colorado courts have jurisdiction over your case. If you need help determining whether you meet the residency requirement, consider seeking legal advice.

Step 2: File for Divorce

After you’ve established residency in Colorado, the next step is to officially initiate the divorce process by filing the necessary legal paperwork. To do this typically involves three key documents:

  1. Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (JDF 1101): This is the primary document that requests the court to grant you a divorce. It includes basic information about you, your spouse, and any children you have. It also outlines what you ask for in the divorce, such as the division of property and debts, child custody, child support, and alimony.
  2. Case Information Sheet (JDF 1000): This form provides the court with additional details about your case, including whether there are minor children involved and if there are any existing orders or pending cases related to your marriage.
  3. Summons for Dissolution of Marriage (JDF 1102): This form tells your spouse that you have filed for divorce and allows them to respond.

It’s important to note that all these forms must be filled out completely and accurately. Any mistakes or omissions could delay your case or lead to legal complications.

Once you’ve completed these forms, you’ll need to file them with the district court clerk in the county where you or your spouse live. This step has a filing fee, but you may qualify for a fee waiver if you demonstrate financial hardship.

The Verification section on the last page of the Petition must be completed, requiring you to sign the document before a notary public or court clerk.

Once the papers are filed, and fees are paid, the court will assign a case number. This number will be used on all future documents related to your divorce.

Remember that the paperwork required can vary depending on your specific circumstances, such as whether you have children or significant assets. Therefore, consulting with a Colorado divorce professional like Patricia Perello can be beneficial to ensure you’re correctly navigating this step.

Step 3: Serve the Papers

Once you’ve filed your divorce paperwork with the court, the next step is to serve these papers to your spouse. Serving the paperwork is a crucial part of the legal process as it ensures that your spouse is officially notified about the divorce proceedings and has an opportunity to respond.

There are specific rules about how divorce papers can be served in Colorado:

  •  Personal Service: The most common method is to hire a sheriff, private process server, or anyone over 18 (who isn’t a party to the case) to deliver the papers directly to your spouse. The person who serves the papers must complete a Return of Service form, which provides the court with proof that your spouse was served.
  • Service by Mail: You can sometimes mail the papers by mail by sending the documents via certified mail with a requested return receipt. When your spouse signs for the mail, the receipt can be used as proof of service. 
  • Publication: If you cannot locate your spouse, you can serve the papers by publishing a notice in a local newspaper. However, this is generally a last resort and requires permission from the court.

After being served, your spouse has 21 days (if served in Colorado) or 35 days (if served outside of Colorado) to file a response. If they fail to respond within this time frame, you may be able to ask the court for a default judgment, which means the divorce could be granted based on the terms you proposed in your Petition.

This step can be complex and requires strict adherence to legal protocol. Therefore, working with an experienced attorney like Patricia Perello can be invaluable in ensuring the process is handled correctly and efficiently.

If you are the spouse served with divorce papers, the next step is to respond to the divorce filing. Failing to do so can seriously harm your chances of a fair divorce.

Here’s how you can respond:

  •  File a Response: You must complete a Response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (JDF 1103) form. In this document, you can agree or disagree with the information and requests made by your spouse in the Petition. You can also make your requests about property division, child custody, alimony, etc.
  • Serve Your Spouse: After you’ve completed the Response form, you must serve a copy of it to your spouse or their attorney. This can be done through personal service or via mail. You cannot serve the papers yourself; they must be served by someone at least 18 years old and not involved in the case.
  • File Proof of Service: The person who served the papers must complete a Return of Service form (JDF 98) detailing when and how the spouse was served. This form must be filed with the court to prove that your spouse received the paperwork.

Remember, you have a specific timeframe to respond—21 days if you were served in Colorado or 35 days if you were served outside of Colorado. If you fail to respond within this time, your spouse may request a default judgment, and the divorce could proceed without your input.

Given the legal complexities involved, you should seek expert legal advice to ensure you respond appropriately and protect your rights during this process.

Step 4: Complete and Exchange Financial Disclosures

In the divorce process, financial transparency is essential. Both parties are legally required to disclose all aspects of their financial situation to each other. This step is essential for determining how assets and debts will be divided and making decisions about child support and spousal maintenance (alimony).

Here are some aspects involved in this step:

Financial Statement: In Colorado, each party must complete and submit to the court a Sworn Financial Statement (JDF 1111), which provides a comprehensive overview of your financial situation. This includes income, expenses, assets, and debts. It’s essential to be thorough and honest in this statement, as it will play a significant role in financial decisions throughout the divorce.

Supporting Documentation: You must provide supporting documentation along with the financial statement, including tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, retirement account statements, and any other documents that substantiate the information in your financial statement.

Disclosure Deadline: In Colorado, these financial disclosures must be exchanged within 42 days after the Petition for Dissolution has been served.

Review and Negotiation: Once both parties have exchanged financial disclosures, you and your attorney (if you have one) will review your spouse’s disclosures. This information can then be used in negotiations regarding property division and support.

Remember, it’s crucial to be accurate and honest in your financial disclosures. Providing false information can lead to penalties and could negatively impact the outcome of your divorce.

Step 5: Negotiations and Agreements

Once both parties have filed their initial paperwork, the next step in the divorce process typically involves negotiations and agreements. This is where you and your spouse mutually try to agree on various issues related to your divorce.

Here are some key aspects of this step:

Temporary Orders: If necessary, you or your spouse can request temporary orders from the court to address immediate concerns while the divorce is ongoing. These can cover issues like child custody, child support, spousal support, and property use.

Negotiations: You and your spouse must negotiate on various matters, such as the division of property and debts, child custody and visitation, and alimony. It’s generally best to agree on these issues, but if not, the court will decide for you.

Mediation: If you’re having trouble reaching an agreement, you may need to attend mediation. In Colorado, most courts will require mediation before a case can go to trial. A mediator (a neutral third party) will help facilitate discussions and try to help you reach a compromise.

Parenting Plan: You must create a parenting plan if you have children. This document outlines how you and your spouse will share parental responsibilities and time with the children.

Marital Settlement Agreement: Once all issues have been resolved, you and your spouse will put the terms of your agreement into a written document called a Marital Settlement Agreement. This form will be submitted to the court for approval.

You can avoid a lengthy court trial if you and your spouse can agree on all issues. However, this step can be complex and emotionally challenging, so seeking legal counsel to guide you through the process can be beneficial.

Step 6: Court Review and Finalization

Once you and your spouse have reached an agreement and all necessary paperwork has been completed, the next step is for the court to review your case and finalize the divorce. This is the final step in the divorce process1.

Here are the key aspects of this step:

Review by the Court: The court will review all your documentation, including your Marital Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan (if applicable). They will check that everything is in order and that your agreements are fair and in the best interests of any children involved.

Final Hearing: If everything is in order, the court will schedule a final hearing. In some cases, this can be waived if both parties agree about all aspects of the divorce1. During the hearing, the judge may ask questions to ensure that both parties understand the terms of the agreement and are entering into it voluntarily.

Decree of Dissolution: If the judge approves your agreement, they will issue a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. This is the legal document that officially ends your marriage. It will detail the terms of your divorce, including any arrangements regarding property division, child custody, and spousal support.

Post-Decree Modifications: In some cases, changes may need to be made to the divorce agreement after it has been finalized. This could be due to changes in circumstances, such as a significant change in income or relocation. You must return to court and request a modification to make these changes.

Remember, even though you are nearing the end of the divorce process, legal assistance can still be valuable to ensure that all your paperwork is correct and your rights are protected.

Step 7: Agreement or Trial

If both parties reach an agreement, the divorce can be finalized. If not, the case proceeds to trial.

The entire divorce process typically takes about 6-9 months, depending on the complexity of the issues involved.

How Colorado Springs Divorce Lawyer Patricia Perello Can Help

Navigating the divorce process can be complex, so having a skilled attorney like Patricia Perello is crucial. Patricia has extensive experience in family law and a reputation for reaching favorable outcomes for her clients. She guides the divorce process, ensuring clients understand their rights and obligations.

Patricia excels in negotiating fair settlements when dividing assets and debts, and she passionately advocates for her client’s interests in court when necessary. Her empathetic approach makes her a reliable support system during this emotionally challenging time.

Final Thoughts

Divorce is a difficult journey, but it can be managed effectively with the proper guidance and legal expertise. Patricia Perello is a trusted professional who can legally support individuals seeking a divorce in Colorado Springs. With her on your side, you can navigate the divorce process confidently, ensuring your interests are protected every step of the way.

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