Family Law FAQs

Family Law FAQs

Find Answers to Our Most Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce, Child Custody, and Child Support in Colorado

How to file for divorce?

Firstly, you will need to determine if you are eligible to file for divorce in Colorado. The legal requirement is that you have lived in the state for a minimum of 91 days. If that is the case, then you are ready to begin proceedings.

Next, you will need to complete two downloadable forms: the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation and the Summons for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation. Once these are complete, it is simply a matter of filing them directly with the court. That means you will need to physically present them at your local county court. You will need to pay a fee for this, and once that is settled you may be asked to fill out some additional paperwork.

Then comes the part which most people find the hardest. If you are filing for divorce on your own, then you will need to arrange for your spouse to be “served.” You can either get a family member to do this (an adult- it is not permissible for a child to hand over divorce papers), or else there are professional servers you can hire for this purpose. However, it’s important to remember that you cannot serve your spouse yourself.

Do I need an attorney if I am going through a divorce?

No, it is not a legal requirement that you hire an attorney in order to proceed with a divorce. However, it is usually recommended that you hire one simply because of the level of professional experience they will be able to bring to bear on your behalf. If you are representing yourself, it is all to easy to become lost in the maze of legal technicalities, or else to remain too emotionally attached to the circumstances to guarantee a fair hearing.

Having said that, if you and your partner are separating on good terms it is certainly possible (not to mention cheaper) for you to go about the process without an attorney. But you will need to make sure you have fully read up on all the legal procedures to ensure you are not caught out further down the line. Obtaining a divorce does not need to be a combative process, but it is also important to see that your own interests are justly served.

What to ask a divorce lawyer before hiring?

To help you make your decision from the vast number of divorce lawyers out there, here are a few key factors to query before you sign on the dotted line:

  • Fee structure: You need to get the financial question out of the way as soon as possible, because this will help you to determine just how costly the process will be. It’s also a good idea to ask for an estimate of what the total costs for your case will be. This will enable you to plan a budget accordingly.
  • What district do they cover?: This is a useful way of telling if they are experienced within your particular region- whether they know the courts and the judges. It can make a big difference to the level of service they are able to offer you.
  • Areas of law they practice: It would be ideal to find a lawyer who specializes in divorce proceedings, but if that is not possible, it is best to seek out a practitioner with expertise in that area. If your chosen lawyer lists a whole host of different fields of law, this should set alarm bells ringing. It most likely means they are spread pretty thin and might not have the level of knowledge you need to get the job done right.
  • What methods of communication do they use?: This question is really about their tech savvy and their efficiency with remote communications. Naturally, you are looking for top quality systems that are going to facilitate rather than hinder the process. The better the communications, the cheaper and more reliable the overall experience is going to be.
  • What are your mediation tactics?: Mediation should always be at the top of every divorce lawyer’s priority list. It is a great way to reduce the stress inherent in the proceedings, and to reach an amicable settlement swiftly and effectively. It is about fostering an atmosphere of cooperativeness and collaboration between spouses, rather than propagating a sense of competition and resentment.

How much will a divorce cost me?

The current cost of filing a divorce in Colorado is $230, so that is the bare minimum that you can expect to spend. Naturally, any additional petitions have their own separate fees. And when it comes to attorney charges, you can normally expect an hourly rate, so it’s important to read around and make sure your budget is sufficient before taking the plunge.

Basically, it all depends on how amicable the divorce proceedings are likely to be. If you and your partner are separating on good terms, then the process can be dealt with quickly and without massive expense. However, even the slightest hitch in the process is likely to send your legal costs through the roof.

Who decides what visitation is?

This depends on the amicability or acrimony inherent in the proceedings. If you can reach an agreement with your partner, then you will be able to draw up your own parenting schedule. However, if this cannot be agreed upon, then it will be in the hands of the courts.

When determining visitation rights, the courts will take into account all manner of issues such as mental and physical health of those concerned, practical elements such as physical distance and alleviating disruption to the child’s schooling.

Is the court more likely to grant custody to a mother than a father?

There is no legislation in Colorado regarding automatic child custody rights; it will always be determined on a case-by-case basis. The focal concern of any divorce court is always going to be in the best interests of the child.

Other elements taken into account will be the wishes of the parents (if both parties can reach an agreement independently of the courts, then that will usually take precedence) and indeed the wishes of the child- provided he or she is of sufficient maturity to provide a reasoned preference.

If an agreement cannot be reached, then it will be down to the court to determine whether to award joint parental responsibility or to award primary responsibility to one parent.

What is a modification of child support?

As the name suggests, it’s when a child support order is modified. Both parents can request a modification to child support in the state of Colorado. A parent can request a modification of child support when they experience a substantial change that is expected to be ongoing, but the change must either decrease or increase the child support order’s amount by 10 percent at the very least.

If you want to modify your child support order, then you have to file a motion to modify it. The document then has to be filed with the court that has jurisdiction over the child support order. Not only that, but both parents have to file a financial statement that includes income, assets and debts. After the required documents have been filed, the court will look over them before making a decision to either grant or not grant the modification.

There are several reasons for modifying a child support order in Colorado, such as there has been a significant change in income, and that change in income is expected to be ongoing. Another reason is that there is no dental or medical coverage included in the order, and now the parent receiving support wants that to be included. Another reason is the child is now spending a considerable amount of time at the other parent’s home. These are only a few reasons why you could try to modify your child support order.

Do I need a divorce lawyer if my spouse has one?

Yes, in those circumstances it is definitely recommended that you hire a divorce lawyer of your own. This indicates that your spouse is looking to contest elements of the divorce settlement.

If you go ahead with the divorce procedures without a lawyer, then you are leaving yourself open to being taken advantage of. Even if the separation is taking place on good terms, your spouse’s lawyer is an unknown quantity and it is important to ensure you have someone looking out for your own interests.

As mentioned above, a divorce lawyer will be able to bring a level of professionalism and emotional detachment that you do not possess.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody

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