Has your husband filed for divorce or are you separated? Whether it is something you and your husband had been discussing or it came as a surprise, seeing those legal papers can be overwhelming. Here’s what you should do next:
All divorces start from somewhere. Not just that first painful discussion, the last straw argument, or when you and your husband reach the point of no return. Often, 70% of the time, women take the first legal step in filing for a divorce. So whether a husband knows the divorce is coming or is about to be blindsided, chances are he’ll need to catch up in terms of emotionally processing such a major life decision. The moment the paperwork starts and the divorce process becomes official, an unsettling feeling hits.
First, It’s essential to note that it doesn’t matter whether you are the petitioner (the person who filed for divorce) or the defendant (the other party) — your title in the divorce case won’t affect your legal rights. This means your husband isn’t in a better position because he is the one who filed for divorce.
Once you’re served with divorce papers, the family law court enjoins you from making any major purchases or other expenditures, canceling or changing the terms of your family insurance, including health, auto, life, or homeowner/rental), or disposing of any marital property in which your spouse may have an interest. Your finances and other official records and documents will be under scrutiny during the proceedings, so don’t make any big moves or do anything that could be viewed as suspicious.
Divorce Costs & Timeline
After you’re served with divorce papers, you only have 30 days to file a response with the family law court, and this deadline is firm. Contact a divorce lawyer in Colorado Springs within the first 10 days, if possible.
Depending on your and your spouse’s marital situation, the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage will cover family law matters, such as custody of minor children, alimony, child support, division of debts, and division of marital property. In your response, you’ll simply set out what you agree with and disagree with your husband’s Petition–you need not get into the nitty-gritty details of these matters or propose a resolution.
If you don’t file a response within the 30-day deadline, your husband could have his demands met on day 31 once he files for a default order and a default judgment against you. Setting aside a default judgment Isn’t impossible, but it’s an avoidable hassle, so it’s in your best interest to respond within the 30-day window.
Besides responding to the divorce petition, you must pay an initial filing fee for your “first appearance” in the divorce case. In Colorado, this fee is $195 for all counties. If you file any other petitions or requests in your divorce proceedings, you’ll need to pay additional fees.
Going to Trial
Once you’ve filed your response, a court date will be set. Meanwhile, look out for any court hearings on temporary issues or other issues that may arise before the court date–your spouse should have served these legal papers on you as well. Other events that could take place after you have filled your response but before your divorce case is resolved may include involving a child custody evaluator, mediation, or taking a parenting class.
If you and your husband disagree on who should have custody of your children or what each party’s time with the children should be, a family court judge may require you to take part in mediation. This is a free session with a qualified mediator to help you and your husband agree on these issues. You don’t have to agree with the mediator or your husband. You won’t be penalized if you and your husband disagree in mediation.
Finalizing the Divorce Process
At the end of your divorce case, a family court judge will sign a document that finalizes everything, including custody and parenting schedules, division of marital property and debt, child or spousal support, insurance, and any other family law matter in the case. Also, the family court judge may restore your legal name before you got married, if you so wish.
An experienced Colorado divorce lawyer at Brighter Day℠ Law can help you navigate the painful and often confusing process of dissolving your marriage Divorce is always difficult, but with knowledgeable legal counsel, the divorce process will go more smoothly.
Does it Matter Who Files for Divorce First in Colorado?
Legally, no. However, although it makes no difference to a family court judge in Colorado which spouse files for divorce first, filing first can have some personal advantages depending on your marital situation.
Every relationship is unique, and often both parties are well aware of a looming divorce. However, if you’re looking to blindside your spouse, being the first one to file the divorce paperwork is one way to do so. By filing first, you can line up your legal team in advance and not scramble at the last minute to find legal representation. You have the advantage of being mentally prepared and ready for any upcoming battle with your spouse. Also, you get to be the one to set the time limit for the divorce proceeding and you’ll get to present your case first at trial.
Further, filing first enables you to decide which jurisdiction will govern your divorce case. For instance, if you and your husband spend time equally at your marital homes in Colorado and California or you and your husband are separated and live in different counties or states, you can choose where to start the divorce proceedings and which jurisdiction’s laws will benefit you.
Again, there are some advantages to filing second. The spouse who files first draws the divorce order or stipulation, which can result in hefty legal fees. However, if possible, a divorce will be much smoother if both spouses agree.
On What Grounds Can a Husband File for Divorce?
Colorado is a “no-fault divorce” state. This means Colorado family law courts won’t consider either spouse’s marital misconduct or fault, including adultery or drug abuse when deciding whether to grant the divorce, whether to award spousal maintenance and how to split marital property.
In Colorado, the only ground for divorce is the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. This simply means that the spouses can’t get along, and there’s no chance for reconciliation.
Can a Spouse File for Divorce Without the Other Spouse Knowing?
During a divorce, things can be even more complicated if one spouse doesn’t agree that divorce is necessary — or perhaps even more tumultuous if one spouse had moved away and can’t be located.
There are options available for getting divorced without the knowledge or expressed permission of your spouse, but there are also many legal procedures in place to make sure this power is only used when necessary.
Long gone are the times when one spouse may need the other spouse’s consent to get a divorce. While consensual, or uncontested divorces may be easier, it’s not required. You may file for divorce in a family law court that has jurisdiction over your marriage, serve your partner with the divorce papers, and seek a divorce with or without their participation or permission. However, it’s essential to note that your spouse’s attitude influences what you need to do to end your marriage.
If Your Husband Filed for Divorce Contact our Family Law Attorneys
If you’re contemplating this major life decision in Colorado, contact the Colorado Springs, CO, divorce lawyers at Brighter Day℠ Law today to see how we can help you through the challenging separation process. We have decades of experience helping clients in Colorado Springs get a favorable outcome and we can help you too.
Our family law attorneys are here to schedule your initial consultation today and review your case. At the Brighter Day℠ Law, you get direct access to an experienced Colorado Springs family law lawyer who will personally respond to your questions and assist with conflict resolution. To schedule a no-cost initial consultation, call our family law firm today at (719) 225-4443, or chat with us online to learn how we can help.