Colorado Divorce Checklist

December 22, 2021

Colorado Divorce Checklist

Spouses going through a divorce in Colorado face many life-changing challenges. Brighter Day℠ Law, our divorce lawyers focus on representing couples during the divorce process. We give these couples a better understanding of how the dissolution of marriage laws in Colorado affects them and their families. The best way to navigate a divorce is to educate yourself about the process, review a divorce checklist, and decide whether you should hire an experienced divorce attorney.

To schedule an initial consultation with our experienced family law specialists, contact us today at (719) 225-4443, chat with us online to learn how we can help.

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Colorado Springs?

Colorado is a no-fault state, so you don’t need your spouse’s consent to get a divorce. Colorado family law courts can enter a divorce decree also referred to as a decree of dissolution once you prove that:

  • You or your spouse have lived in the state for a least 90 days before the start of the divorce proceedings;
  • The marriage is irretrievably broken;
  • And 90 days or more have passed since the court gained jurisdiction over your ex-spouse either through the divorce process or by the other party entering appearances.

How are Marital Assets Split in a Colorado Divorce?

Divorcing parties can decide the division of assets and validate their agreements in a written document referred to as a “separation agreement.” If you and your spouse can’t agree on how to divide marital property, you’ll end up in court, and a family law judge will decide how to divide your assets.

First, a family law court will set aside each party’s “separate property” which includes:

  • Property accumulated before the marriage or after legal separation,
  • Property gained through inheritance or gifts, and
  • Property excluded from the marital estate by a legally binding agreement between the spouses, such as an agreement stating that the employed spouse will keep all stocks received through their employment.

Next, the judge will deal with “marital property.” Marital property includes all other property acquired by either party after they were married but before legal separation. A family law court divides the marital property between the spouses equitably, considering the following factors:

  • Each party’s contribution to the acquisition of marital assets, including the contribution of the homemaker spouse.
  • The financial circumstances each party will face after the marriage ends, and
  • Any increases or decreases to the value of each party’s separate property during the marriage, or the use of any separate property for marital purposes.

Who Gets the House in Divorce in Colorado?

One of the biggest issues facing spouses who divorce is what to do about the marital house. Often, the marital home is the most valuable asset spouses own. Also, the marital house can be the source of powerful emotional connections to both parties.

Thus, it’s imperative to consider the repercussions of moving out of the marital house before the final decree of dissolution of marriage.

According to Colorado law, the marital house differs from other real estate interests regarding who gets what after the divorce. Even though a party initially moves out, that party may still keep the marital home when the divorce is completed.

When determining who gets the marital house, the family law court considers many factors, including:

  • The best interests of minor children;
  • Contributions to the acquisition of the marital home (both financially and as a homemaker);
  • Value of separate property awarded to each party; and 
  • Financial circumstances of each spouse.

Further, Colorado divorce law also provides for the payment of temporary spousal maintenance and temporary child support payments from the higher-earning party to the lower-earning party while the spouses are separated.

Similarly, it’s essential to note that if a spouse moves out during the separation period, there will be temporary support orders requiring that spouse to pay for alimony and child support. These payment plans, combined with the cost of maintaining two homes, can have serious financial consequences.

Thus, it’s vital to meet with El Paso County divorce attorneys or financial planners to consider all the costs related to moving out before taking this step.

When divorcing parents continue to reside in the same house, the decisions related to the care of minor children will typically remain the same. However, when one spouse moves out of the marital house, both spouses must come up with a new parenting plan; this can have a serious impact on divorce proceedings.

If a party moves out of the marital home, he or she must work with an experienced family law attorney to make sure that their moving out isn’t characterized as abandonment. Although Colorado is a no-fault state, abandonment can have negative impacts on a spouse during child custody proceedings. A child custody attorney can help you establish if there might be child custody issues because of moving out and what you need to do to avoid an abandonment characterization.

What is the Procedure of Filing for Divorce in Colorado?

While there are many types of divorce in Colorado, the process of filing for divorce is the same regardless of the type of divorce you choose.

First, collect important information. For the best chance of achieving the best outcome, you must be proactive and organized when it comes to gathering the information you’ll need. This protects your rights while also saving money, time, and anxiety for the next steps in the divorce process.

However, before you collect financial information, you must take the following steps when preparing for divorce:

  • Open a new bank account in your name alone.  
  • Open a credit card in your name alone.  
  • Order for a free credit report.  
  • List all the assets and liabilities that you’re aware of, include any retirement accounts, memberships, reward points, and other perks that can be considered as assets.

Then it’s time to collect your information. Here’s a list of what you need to gather:

  • Tax returns, including W-2’s, K-1’s, and 1099’s for the past 5 years.
  • Bank statements.
  • Pay stubs for the past three months
  • Retirement account statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Pension plan statements
  • Grant notice for stock options, RSUs, etc.
  • Investment account statements
  • Mortgage statements
  • Life insurance policies
  • Deeds to real estate
  • Real estate appraisals
  • Vehicle registration
  • Car loan statements
  • Kelley Blue Book printouts (“private party value”)
  • Social security benefit statement

Next, complete the divorce paperwork. In Colorado, you must file several forms with the district court to start your divorce case. You can either hire a divorce attorney to help you or you can complete these forms yourself.

If you are the one who is filing for divorce, you’re the petitioner. And if you’re the spouse receiving the divorce papers, then you’re the respondent. The exact forms you need to complete depend on your marital situation. The Colorado Judicial Branch website contains several different instruction sheets, which can give you accurate information.

Next, you must file your divorce forms. Once you’re done with your divorce papers, you’re should submit them to your local county clerk in your specific district. The Colorado Judicial Branch website can also help find a map of the Colorado Judicial Districts.

However, it’s essential to note that you shouldn’t sign any sworn statements or affidavits before you go to the local county clerk’s office because these documents must be notarized. Most family law courts have a notary on hand, but it’s imperative to call ahead to make sure.

Also, remember to make copies of all of your divorce paperwork before you file. You’ll need at least two copies along with the original documents–one to give to your spouse and one to the court.

You’ll also have to pay the required filing fee of $230 to the clerk of the circuit court. If you and your spouse can afford to pay the filing fees, request a waiver when you file.

How Can I Complete Proof of Service?

Once you file your divorce forms with the court, you’re obligated to give your spouse those forms so that he or she can respond. Under Colorado family law, one party can’t serve the divorce papers to the other spouse by themselves. You must use the sheriff’s office, a professional process server, or you can ask a family member to do so. The family member or a family friend must be at least 18 years old.

The person serving the divorce paperwork must document the event by completing a proof of service form, which states when and where the service took place. This form must also be filed as evidence that your spouse was served with divorce papers.

Divorce papers may be served wherever your spouse is located, including their home, workplace, or even in a public setting such as on the street or the gas station. It’s essential to note that a co-worker or receptionist at your spouse’s workplace can’t accept the papers on his or her behalf.

If you can’t locate your spouse, with permission from the family court judge you can serve him or her through publication service. This is where you publish a notice in a local newspaper for a specified amount of time. As proof of service, you must provide a copy of the published notice to the judge along with a statement of how long the notice ran.

When Should I Hire a Family Law Attorney?

Under Colorado law, it’s not compulsory that you have an attorney to file for divorce. And honestly, you might not need a divorce lawyer if you don’t have children, you have been married for a short time, and you and your spouse agree on major issues.

However, a divorce attorney is necessary for certain situations. For instance, if your spouse has hired an attorney, it’s in your best interest to hire one, too.

Most people who aren’t familiar with family law will have a challenging time going head to head with an experienced attorney, but when you’re stressed to the maximum about your divorce, you can easily put yourself on a path to divorce disaster, especially if your divorce involves children or complex financial matters.

Also, it’s a red flag if your wealthy spouse tries to persuade you from hiring your own family law attorney. This shows that your spouse could take advantage of you during the divorce process.

If you’re worried, your spouse is hiding assets, it’s advisable to hire a seasoned attorney to better protect your interests. In abusive situations–whether child abuse, spousal abuse, or substance abuse–it’s essential to hire a lawyer to make sure you get the protection you need during the divorce proceedings. Few family law matters are more stressful than ironing out the details of a divorce, such as alimony, parenting time, child custody disputes, child support, and property division.

The support and advice of an experienced family law attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your divorce case. A seasoned divorce attorney will be a valuable support system and he or she will make sure that your interests are protected throughout a difficult emotional journey.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Colorado?

To get a divorce in Colorado, you, or your spouse, must file a petition for divorce. Most family courts charge legal fees for filing divorce paperwork. The average filing fee for a dissolution of marriage petition is $195. If you file any other motions or petitions in your divorce proceeding, you’ll incur additional fees. 

If you hire a divorce attorney, he or she will probably charge you an hourly fee. If you and your spouse agree on all family law issues, you’ll keep legal costs down. However, if you and your spouse fight over minor matters, the cost of your divorce will skyrocket quickly. It’s challenging to predict how much a Colorado divorce will cost.

If you can’t afford to hire a family law attorney, the judge may order your spouse to pay your legal fees after considering both of your economic resources. You should ask your divorce lawyer if you’re entitled to have your spouse pay your attorney’s fees.

Our Colorado Springs family law lawyers can help you avoid a divorce disaster. You don’t have to get caught up in a battle full of difficult terminologies, complex laws, and emotional turmoil. The experienced family law team at Brighter Day℠ Law can guide you through the muddy waters of a complicated divorce to make sure you and your children arrive safely on the other side.

To schedule your initial consultation, contact our Colorado Springs family law firm today at (719) 225-4443, or chat with us online to learn how our experienced attorneys can help.

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