Divorce is arguably one of the most stressful, emotional and important events anyone will face. It has consequences which last long after the court enters its final orders, and which will impact every aspect of family life, including the custody of your children, your income, your retirement, your home, and other property. Divorce is also complicated, and while some of the determinations made during a divorce will be modifiable, many of the decisions made during a divorce will stand for years, and possibly forever. It is critical that those facing divorce understand their rights and have an experienced advocate to help protect their short, mid, and long term best interests. Moreover, if there are children involved you have a responsibility as a parent to ensure your children are protected. Protecting your rights begins with knowing your rights.
There are six main issues in divorce:
- Division of Marital Assets & Liabilities
- Child Support
- Spousal Maintenance (formerly known as Alimony)
- Decision-Making for the Children
- Parenting Time (formerly known as Child Custody)
- Allocation of Attorney Fees
Oftentimes parties will agree on some, most, or if you’re lucky, all of those issues. However, always remember that the immediate goals and agreements may not be good for you in the long term, and you may not be able to alter the agreements you’ve made. It is imperative that you have a clear understanding of your rights under the law, so that you can accurately assess whether the agreements you’re considering are favorable or not, and so you know what rights you are signing away. Take advantage of our free consultation before you make a decision that could affect you for years.
Divorce Process in Colorado
Generally speaking divorce is initiated by filing a Petition for Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. Shortly thereafter the court will schedule an Initial Status Conference. There are significant and required financial disclosures that the Court will expect both parties to provide early in the case and the Court will typically want those disclosures completed prior to the Initial Status Conference. Even though divorce is a little different than most other kinds of court cases, there will be a number of important deadlines, and missing those deadlines can severely affect your rights.
If there are disputed issues which require immediate attention the Court will set the case for Temporary Orders (such as temporary child support, temporary maintenance, an interim parenting schedule, or orders related to the payment of household expenses). Oftentimes the court will order mandatory mediation with a neutral third party. This neutral third party has no authority to make determinations between the parties; they only serve to facilitate agreements between the parties. If mediation and other settlement negotiations do not resolve all of the outstanding issues, the court will hold a Permanent Orders hearing where the Court will decide all of the issues that are still in dispute. Understanding what the Court is likely to do with your case is essential to reaching a favorable settlement.
The length of time it takes for a divorce varies from county to county and the complexity of the issues in the case. In some counties it can take more than a year, even for a case which isn’t overly complicated. However most of the time a typical case takes about 3-9 months. Although the courts all over the state follow the same rules when it comes to divorce, there are idiosyncrasies that vary by county and even by courtroom within the same county. Processes and procedures that are required in Arapahoe County may be frowned upon in Denver County. An experienced domestic relations attorney will be able to help you navigate the specific requirements of the courtroom to which your case has been assigned.
Remember just because final orders are entered doesn’t mean that the divorce is over. Oftentimes, particularly with a recalcitrant individual, one person may be required to enforce the final Order with a contempt proceeding. Sometimes the final Order must also be re-visited due to a change of circumstances or other unfairness. One of the most important aspects of the divorce process is trying to maximize the likelihood that you won’t have to go back to Court shortly after your divorce is finalized.
While hiring an attorney in a divorce is always recommended, it can also be expensive. There are provisions of Colorado law that may require the other party to pay some or all of your legal expenses. In those scenarios you can often hire an attorney at a lower cost because your lawyer is likely to recover a significant portion of their fees from the other party. Don’t find yourself without a lawyer in an important hearing when your soon-to-be ex-wife or ex-husband might have been obligated to pay your legal fees.
For more information, visit our Divorce FAQs page.
Contact an Experienced, Dedicated Colorado Divorce Lawyer Today
We establish close working relationships with our clients, resulting in strong and effective representation and characterized by humanity, caring, and understanding. If you find yourself facing divorce or other family law issues, please contact Cohen & Cohen, P.C., online here or call at 303-933-4529 to schedule an appointment with an experienced Denver divorce attorney.