THE DIVORCE PROCESS – AN OVERVIEW
Initiating the Divorce
If you are the spouse initiating the divorce, you are the “Petitioner” and your spouse is the “Respondent.” If you are the Petitioner, we will prepare a “Summons” and “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” and hand deliver (serve) it to your spouse. We will also file these papers with the court, which initiates the divorce proceedings. If your spouse initiates the divorce, you will receive a Summons and Petition for Dissolution, and we will file and serve an Answer to the Petition on your behalf.
Initial Status Conference
Within 42 days after the Petition is filed, the court will require the parties to attend an “initial status conference.” This is a chance for the court to meet the parties, address any preliminary issues or concerns, and ensure that the case proceeds smoothly. The court will also determine whether a temporary orders hearing is necessary to address whether one of the parties is entitled to temporary maintenance, child support, or use of the marital home, and whether temporary parenting time orders are necessary.
Disclosures and Discovery
No later than 42 days after the Petition is served on the Respondent, the parties must exchange financial and other information with each other (called “disclosures”). The parties may also engage in “discovery” during which they can request additional information in writing (“interrogatories”) and ask questions of the other party under oath (“deposition”).
At the temporary orders hearing, the court will determine the whether one party should pay for the other party’s and children’s support during the divorce process. The parties present evidence of their income, sources of support, needs and obligations.
Permanent Orders and Decree of Dissolution
In Colorado, there is a mandatory 91-day (13 weeks) waiting period between the time the Petition is served on the Respondent and the time when the court may grant the divorce. This is a minimum waiting period, and cases often take longer. If the parties cannot agree on all issues, the court will usually order the parties to attend a “mediation” to try to voluntarily resolve the disputed issues with the help of a mediator. If the parties cannot resolve their differences at mediation, the court will decide the disputed issues at a “permanent orders hearing.”
At the permanent orders hearing, the parties present witnesses and evidence regarding the disputed issues, and try to persuade the court to rule in their favor on these issues. Ultimately, the court decides the disputed issues based on what the court determines is most equitable or fair. After the court issues its ruling, either party may request that the court reconsider or revise some or all of its decisions, and either party may appeal the court’s ruling to the Colorado Court of Appeals or, in some instances, to the Colorado Supreme Court.