A Guide to Filing for Divorce in Colorado
When you file for a divorce in Colorado, one of the best things you can do is to arm yourself with the information you’ll need to see you through the process from start to finish.
Divorce can be intimidating and disruptive on many levels, and the best way to minimize the impacts on your life is to do your homework so that you can best protect yourself as you try to move to the next chapter.
Although a divorce can take place in many ways in Colorado, there are certain processes and procedures common to most all filings. Here’s some basic information for you to consider as you begin to work through your divorce.
- Gathering Your Financial Information
- Divorce Process Options
- Necessary Forms
- Filing the Petition
- Serving Your Spouse
- Colorado Divorce FAQs
Gather important financial information
You can set the tone for how your divorce will proceed from the outset if you approach the task of gathering information the right way. Doing so can save you time, money and stress in the long haul.
You’ll also give yourself the best possible chance at the most favorable outcome if your documents and information are in order. Starting early and being organized are keys to successfully completing this task.
We’ve simplified the process for you by creating a Divorce Information Checklist you can check out in our article The Ultimate Divorce Checklist: The Information You Need to Prepare for Divorce.
Decide how you proceed with your divorce
Determine What Court Forms You Will Need to Complete
You will need to file several forms with the district court to start your divorce case in Colorado. You can either complete these forms yourself or you can retain a lawyer to assist you.
The exact forms you need to complete will depend on your situation. There are several different instruction sheets on the Colorado Judicial Branch website you can access to give you accurate information.
Filing Your Documents in Colorado
After you complete your divorce paperwork, you are ready to submit it to your local county clerk in your specific district. You can find a map of the Colorado Judicial Districts on the Colorado Judicial Branch website.
Do not sign any sworn statements or affidavits before you go, because these documents need to be notarized. Most courts will have a notary on hand, although you may want to call ahead to make sure.
Also, make copies of all of your documents before you file. You will want at least two copies along with the original – one to give to the court and one to serve to your spouse.
You must pay the appropriate filing fee of $230 to the clerk of the circuit court. If you and your spouse cannot afford to pay the filing fees, you may request a waiver when you file.
Serving Your Spouse in Colorado
After you file your forms with the court, you must also provide your spouse with those forms so that they can have a chance to respond. You cannot serve the papers on your spouse by yourself. You must use a professional process server, the sheriff’s office, or you can ask someone in your family to do so. The family member or friend must be at least 18 years old.
See this clip from Serving Sara
The person serving the forms must document the event by completing proof of service forms that state where and when the service took place. That form must then be filed with the court as evidence that service was completed.
Papers may be served wherever your spouse can be found, including his or her home, place of work, or even in a public setting such as a park or on the street. A receptionist or co-worker at your spouse’s place of work cannot generally accept the papers on his or her behalf.
If you can’t find your spouse, with permission from the court you can serve him or her through publication. This means you will publish a notice in a local paper for a specified amount of time. As proof of service, you will need to provide a copy of the published notice to the courts along with a statement of how long the notice ran.
Frequently Asked Questions About Filing for Divorce in Colorado
How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Colorado?
The filing fee to start the dissolution of marriage process in Colorado is $230. If you file additional motions or requests with the courts you will be charged additional fees as well.
Can divorce fees be waived in Colorado?
If you can’t afford to pay fees associated with filing for a divorce in Colorado you may be able to have the filing fees waived. Contact your district court house for more information on this.
Can I file for a divorce online in Colorado?
You can visit the Colorado Judicial Branch website, which offers all divorce papers and forms, along with instructions on how to fill out these documents. You can complete these forms at your convenience, but to actually file a divorce, you will need to go to your local county clerk in your district to file the papers in person.
What are the residency requirements to file for a divorce in Colorado?
You must live in Colorado for at least 90 days before you are eligible to divorce.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Colorado?
There is a 90-day waiting period before a divorce decree can be entered after papers have been served on a spouse. If either spouse contests the divorce, claiming that the marriage is not irretrievably broken, then the courts may continue to case for up to another 60 days.
Read More: How Long Does Divorce Take?
For contested divorces, especially those where there are several assets or debts to unwind, or child custody and support issues to negotiate could mean that a divorce might take one or even two years or more.
Can I file for divorce in Colorado without using a lawyer?
Yes. In Colorado, you have the option for filing for divorce on your own without using a lawyer. This works best when you have an uncontested divorce and agree on all the issues with your spouse.
Dissolution packets are available at district court clerks’ offices for a small fee. The packet includes all the basic pleadings along with instructions on how to proceed. You can also download free forms through the Colorado state judicial website
Are there any special rules regarding divorce in Colorado if I am pregnant?
When filing for divorce in Colorado, the parties must state if a woman is pregnant at the time paperwork is filed.
When this is the case, a judge may investigate a divorce more closely to determine if paternity is an issue. If there are concerns in this regard, the judge may delay granting the divorce until the baby is born and paternity can be established.
To have rights to visitation and custody, a man must not just be the biological father; he must also be the legal father of the child. A man must also be established as the legal father to have child support obligations.
When paternity is in doubt, the father will need to take a paternity test and petition a judge to declare him the baby’s father. The mother and father may also submit a joint stipulation to the court indicating the man is the baby’s father.
How is my divorce affected if I am a member of the military in Colorado?
Certain state and federal laws come into play if a member of the military is involved in a divorce in Colorado. In Colorado there is a requirement that at least one of the parties have been domiciled in the state for at least 91 days before filing for a dissolution of marriage. “Domicile” does not necessarily mean physical presence. A person in the military service may reside in another state but have his or her domicile in the state of Colorado.
In deciding whether someone is considered domiciled in Colorado, the court will look at several factors:
- Where that person was stationed previously.
- Whether the person purchased a home in Colorado or another state.
- Where the person has claimed residence before.
- Where the person grew up.
- The state the party claims as his or her Home of Record.
- The party’s state of legal residence on Leave and Earnings Statements.
- Whether the party intends to make Colorado his or her permanent home.
Once forms have been filed to begin the divorce, copies must be served on the spouse to give him or her a chance to respond. When one spouse is in the military, they have certain protections afforded to them by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act that allow them to postpone the divorce while they are overseas or otherwise not able to adequately respond to the petition due to military service commitments.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act eases many legal and financial burdens of military personnel and their families who face the added challenges of active duty. It also prevents active duty military members from being held in default for failing to respond to a divorce action.
Federal law dictates that child and spousal support awards may not exceed 60% of a servicemembers pay and allowances if they are single. That amount drops to 50% if the servicemember remarries and has a new family they must support.
Child support is determined using normal Colorado child support guidelines and worksheets to determine an appropriate amount that must be paid.
Normal Colorado property division laws are used in a military divorce, but the federal government also has put in place the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act that dictates how military retirement benefits are calculated in a divorce.
Rules changed in 2017 regarding retirement pay. It is now calculated from the “Freeze Time Formula” instead of the previous “Time Rule Formula”.
Regarding children custody and visitation, if one of the parties becomes deployed, The Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA) is implemented.
Temporary plans are put in place during military absences that may include deployment, TDY, or a remote tour of duty, and such absences require military parents to prepare a temporary plan for custody and visitation arrangements during their absence. After the absence is over, the temporary plan ends and the parties return to the parenting plan that was in place before the military absence.
Looking for more great tips about filing for divorce? Check out a few of our favorite resources: