Do I Have To Go To Court For An Uncontested Divorce?
May 31, 2021
Although divorce cases can be expensive for all parties, not all divorces are equal. Some divorces are smoother, both financially and emotionally; while others are very contentious, including a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is a best-case scenario. In Colorado Springs, the divorce process is much simpler for parties who agree on their divorce terms.
The uncontested divorce cases result in fewer legal disputes between spouses going through a divorce. Plus, this option eliminates expensive child custody battles—so child custody issues aren’t dragged through the mud. Typically, an uncontested divorce process allows for quicker and easier divorce proceedings for all involved. At Brighter Day℠ Law, our experienced Colorado Springs divorce attorneys have helped thousands of couples going through divorce find an agreeable resolution. For a consultation, contact our experienced Colorado Springs family law attorneys today at (719) 225-4443.
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What Does Uncontested Mean in a Divorce?
It means that the marriage is ending in an uncontested manner—without argument or disagreement from either spouse. You and your spouse must agree on all divorce terms.
The agreed-upon divorce terms include:
- Child arrangements: child custody, child visitation, child support, child medical support, and parental rights.
- Property division
- Allocation of debts and division of assets
- Spousal maintenance (alimony)
The two spouses reach a mutual agreement about these terms of divorce on their own. They affirm their decision through an informal divorce settlement agreement; a mediated divorce settlement agreement; or the agreed divorce decree. These are all acceptable settlement documents, making the divorce agreement legally binding, with a few exceptions.
Often, the idea of an uncontested divorce may trigger questions regarding “fault” in a divorce.
Colorado is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means spouses can proceed with the divorce process without either side being deemed at fault for causing the marriage to break.
The judgment of fault comes into play when dividing marital property, marital debts, and assets. Also, it affects child custody rulings depending on the type of fault. For instance, cruelty and abuse are considered by the family law court during contested divorce cases.
However, seeking an uncontested divorce essentially supports a no-fault divorce. However, if one spouse wants to place the blame on the other for the dissolution of the marriage, it’s impossible to seek an uncontested divorce. Here, the divorce case either goes to trial, or the spouse agrees to fault grounds. Agreeing to fault grounds is possible if a ton of evidence exists as to the fault, such as text messages and pictures.
A true uncontested divorce must meet the following terms:
- Both parties agree on grounds for divorce or agree not to place legal fault
- Both spouses agree to end the marriage
- Neither spouse is going through a bankruptcy case
- Both parties agree on the division of property, including debts
- All other family law issues are resolved by agreement
When going to family court for an uncontested divorce, the issues are procedural and less dramatic. Typically, these divorce cases save time and legal fees compared to contested divorce cases.
How Do I File an Uncontested Divorce in Colorado Springs?
You can file for an uncontested divorce after submitting an “Affidavit for Decree Without Appearance of Parties” in the district court of the county where either you or your spouse resides. Your county district court clerk’s office will have a form affidavit that you can use. You can file the affidavit by yourself, and you’ll be the “petitioner” and your spouse will be the “respondent.” Or you and your spouse can file the affidavit together as “co-petitioners.”
It’s essential to note that even though you can find online divorce forms through the state government website, you can’t file for a divorce online. You must deliver the divorce paperwork to the court to start the divorce process.
You must state in the affidavit that you met all the requirements for a divorce. If you or your spouse wants to return to their previous name, you must state that in the affidavit, too.
Further, if you file the affidavit for decree as co-petitioners with your spouse, you don’t need to serve a copy of the affidavit on your spouse.
However, if you file the affidavit by yourself, you must serve the affidavit on your spouse legally. You can serve your spouse through your county’s sheriff, or your spouse can sign a waiver of service. This is a divorce form you can get from your district court clerk’s office.
When the family law court receives your affidavit, the family court judge will decide whether to grant the divorce right away or require you and your spouse to appear for an uncontested divorce hearing first. Different courts might have different reasons for asking divorcing spouses to appear for a hearing. Sometimes, the family law judge will hold a hearing to ask the parties questions to affirm that they meet all the requirements or to ensure that the separation agreement is fair to both parties.
After the judge determines the spouses meet all the requirements for dissolution of marriage and are satisfied with the divorce agreement, the court will issue a “decree of dissolution of marriage,” which legally divorces you and your spouse. However, it’s essential to note that the judge can only sign the decree of dissolution after a mandatory waiting period of at least 91 days has passed since you and your spouse filed the affidavit. If you have you and your spouse have signed a separation agreement, the judge will attach your separation agreement to the decree of divorce.
Do I Have To Go To Court for an Uncontested Divorce in Colorado Springs?
Many people are nervous or even reluctant about going to court. This is understandable because many people have never gone to court and find the formal setting intimidating. Further, going to court is inconvenient to people who live far away from the courthouse and even out of state or for those who have to take time off of work to attend court hearings. Based on the inconvenience of going to court, many people often ask if they can just “file the legal documents.” Essentially, what they want to know is if it’s possible to get divorced without the need to court.
In Colorado, you can get divorced without ever stepping foot inside the courtroom. If this is what you want, the most reliable way to make sure that you avoid going to court is for you and your spouse to consult with and work with an experienced divorce lawyer. Even after filing all the divorce papers and you and your spouse have reached a full agreement, you may still need to attend a quick and final hearing unless you have submitted an “affidavit for decree without the appearance of parties.”
This legal document essentially lets the judge know that all divorce papers have been filed and asks the court to enter the divorce decree without you or your spouse having to appear in court. However, you can only use this affidavit to avoid court altogether if there are no dependent children of the marriage and, if there are minor children, both you and your spouse must have family law attorneys representing both of you in the divorce.
The goal of every divorce case is to receive a declaration that you and your spouse are no longer legally married. Such declaration is achieved by getting a decree of dissolution of marriage that has been signed by either a judge or magistrate.
Again, before a judge or magistrate signs your divorce decree, divorcing you and your spouse, he or she must make factual and legal findings including:
- That your marriage is irretrievably broken.
- That 91 days have passed since the court got jurisdiction over both parties.
- That marital assets and debts have been divided fairly.
- That any provision regarding alimony for either party is fair and not unconscionable.
- If you and your spouse have children together, that parental responsibility has been allocated in a way that’s in the best interest of the kids.
Typically, a family law court doesn’t need to hold a formal hearing to make these determinations, especially if you and your spouse have reached a full settlement agreement and there’s no genuine issue of material fact. However, the judge may need financial and practical information from the spouses to make the findings. You and your spouse can provide that information to the court in writing by filing various legal documents.
If you and your spouse are going to go through an uncontested divorce, hire an experienced family law attorney to help you document and prepare your case and to represent you in court. Call Brighter Day℠ Law today at (719) 225-4443 to discuss your divorce case and to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Colorado divorce lawyers.