What To Expect At A Divorce Hearing In Colorado

August 23, 2021

What To Expect At A Divorce Hearing In Colorado

During a divorce, it’s essential to hire an experienced Colorado Springs divorce attorney so that you have another person advocating on your behalf during this difficult time. Our legal team has many years of legal experience and can help you through the complex process of a divorce hearing in Colorado. Here at Brighter Day℠ Law, our experienced family law lawyers will:

  • Advocate on your and your children’s behalf,
  • Offer coaching during the often stressful divorce process,
  • Prepare you for what to expect during the legal proceedings, and
  • Protect you and your children to make sure you get the best possible outcome.

At Brighter Day℠ Law, we know that nobody wins in a divorce, so we focus on solutions rather than just winning litigation. As skilled family lawyers, we focus on the family and finding the best solution for everyone involved. Call us today at 719-733-9129 for your initial consultation.

What Does a Divorce Hearing Consist of?

If you and your spouse agree on most, if not all, of the family law issues in your divorce case, you can file a joint petition. Often, however, couples can’t agree. Thus, you must file the petition on your own and serve the petition on your spouse, who then has 21 days to file their response.

In Colorado, you “serve” the other party by hiring a professional process server to deliver a copy of the divorce petition to your spouse. The process server doesn’t have to be a sheriff’s deputy or police officer. However, some petitions are served this way. Colorado law requires the divorce petition to be delivered in person by a neutral party 18 years or older. But if you filed a joint petition with your spouse, you don’t need to serve your spouse, you can skip the service requirement.

Initial Status Conference 

Initial Status Conference or the first divorce hearing is scheduled to discuss administrative matters, including dates of future hearings. In Colorado, these meetings are mostly informal and are held outside the court. During this hearing, present the major issues in your case:

  • Outline preferred visitation rights and child custody arrangements. 
  • Discuss child support obligations. 
  • Propose a property division plan.
  • Request spousal support.

Depending on whether you agree on most family law issues, the judge will decide on additional measures. You may have to go through divorce mediation or attend mandatory parenting classes. Also, the judge will hear requests for temporary orders and help determine custody and visitation schedule while your divorce is pending. 

Temporary Orders Hearing

Once the Initial Status Conference is held and financial disclosures are filed, the next hearing is called the Temporary Order hearings. This helps arrange for temporary financial support for either spouse or their children during the divorce proceedings. Temporary orders stay in place until the divorce is finalized or your divorce case goes to trial.

Permanent Orders Hearings

This hearing is scheduled when you and your spouse disagree on certain terms of your divorce during earlier stages. Here, the Colorado family law court will hear evidence from both parties and make the final ruling. Divorce trials are lengthy and emotionally charged. Thus, you need to have an experienced divorce lawyer by your side to help you navigate through the discovery stage and prepare you for divorce depositions.

After the permanent order hearings, the family court judge will issue permanent orders concerning alimony, child support, visitation, and division of marital property, and a decree of dissolution of your marriage. You will become officially divorced. But you must comply with the issued divorce decrees. Divorce hearings can be lengthy and become heated, especially if your spouse is unwilling to cooperate.

Working with a family law lawyer experienced in both divorce preparation and trial practice is crucial to resolve your divorce case as smoothly as possible. Get in touch with the experienced Colorado Springs family lawyers at Brighter Day℠ Law today to schedule a no-cost initial consultation. 

What Happens at the Final Divorce Hearing in Colorado?

If your divorce case can’t be settled at mediation or by negotiations before mediation, it’s set for a Final Orders Hearing. The Final Order Hearing is also referred to as a Permanent Orders Hearing. However, both titles are misleading. Because the orders issued at this stage aren’t final or permanent, especially concerning child custody and financial orders for spousal maintenance and child support. In fact, child custody agreements are modified regularly the needs of the children change over time as they grow. Typically, financial orders are modifiable based on a continuing and substantial change in financial circumstances.

Still, at the Final Orders Hearing, you and your spouse will have the chance to testify, call witnesses, and present evidence to the randomly assigned family court judge to support your position or request specific orders.

At the end of this hearing, the family law court issues orders such as issuing of an official Decree of Dissolution of Marriage–the divorce, together with orders allocating parental responsibilities including child support, parenting time, and decision-making, and child support and the allocation of marital property between the spouses.

Regarding property division, the final orders are permanent and are incorporated into the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. Nonetheless, post-decree litigation after the final orders or final decree is entered aims to modify an existing order.

For instance, a visitation schedule or parenting plan might need modification, especially if a spouse relocates because of a job or career change. Also, child support can be modified if there’s a significant financial change such as a promotion or raise, job loss, or even the birth of another child.

To prepare for your final order hearing, you can request that an expert be appointed to establish the best interests of your kids. You may have a parental responsibility evaluator (PRE) or a child and family investigator (CFI) appointed to your divorce case in Colorado.

How Does Colorado Divide Property in a Divorce?

Colorado uses  “equitable division” principles to divide property during a divorce. For equitable property division, family law courts divide property fairly, which doesn’t mean equal. Colorado family law courts consider several factors when deciding how to split a couple’s assets. These factors include:

  • How much either spouse contributed to acquiring the marital property, including the homemaker’s contributions
  • The value of the separate property set aside for each party,
  • Each spouse’s economic circumstances at the time the property is divided, including the desire to award the party designated as the custodial parent the right to stay in the marital home, and
  • Any loss or gain in the value of a party’s separate property during the marriage or the depletion of separate property because of marital reasons.

Marital property in Colorado is everything the couple acquired after the marriage, except:

  • Gifts,
  • Any property acquired after legal separation,
  • Anything acquired in exchange for something owned before the marriage or a gift, and
  • Any property excluded by mutual agreement, including a prenuptial agreement.

How Do I Start the Divorce Process in Colorado?

As the petitioner, to start the divorce, go to your local courthouse–the court in the county where you or your spouse live. To begin your divorce case, you must file the case information sheet, summons, and petition.

Also, you’ll have to pay a filing fee. If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee, ask the court clerk for a Motion to File Without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit. The court will review your affidavit to determine whether to waive or eliminate the filing fees.

Further, ask the clerk to give you two copies of the divorce paperwork, then assemble a package for your spouse, including everything you filed plus the divorce summons, which must be signed by the clerk. Also, the court clerk will give you a case management order, which outlines additional forms, requirements, and deadlines you’ll have to meet. You must serve your spouse with the divorce documents as soon as possible.

After filing the divorce forms, you must serve your spouse with the documents immediately. First, your soon-to-be-ex-spouse may cooperate and accept the service of the divorce petition without a lawyer. If your spouse is cooperating, you may hand-deliver or mail the divorce documents to them. Your spouse must sign an Acceptance of Service for you to file with the family law court.

However, if your spouse doesn’t want to sign an acceptance of service, hire a process server to hand your spouse’s divorce papers at home or work. The process server must complete an affidavit confirming that he or she has served your spouse. If your spouse has hired a divorce lawyer, deliver the documents to the lawyer’s office.

Further, you and your spouse must complete a Sworn Financial Statement and, if possible, the Sworn Financial Statement with Supporting Schedules. These documents outline each spouse’s financial circumstance, including assets, income, liabilities, and monthly expenses and are “sworn” in front of a notary public.

Financial declarations help family court judges and spouses establish how much child support should be paid, and whether any spouse should receive alimony. You must be honest and thorough when completing this form.

The divorce legal team at the Brighter Day℠ Law not only knows the dissolution of marriage but also the legal aspect. Our legal team has decades of experience in practicing family law in El Paso County and throughout Colorado. We know that no one really wins in a divorce and have witnessed the emotional toll divorce can take on a family.

At Brighter Day℠ Law, our experienced Colorado divorce attorneys focus on finding workable solutions for families instead of just winning litigation. While you might not be prepared for your divorce, we are, and we can help you navigate the difficult legal process. Contact us today at 719-733-9129 to schedule an initial consultation and see how our skilled Colorado Springs divorce lawyers can help.

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