What is the Divorce Process in Colorado?

What is the Divorce Process in Colorado?

While the divorce process may vary from state to state, it can be confusing and frustrating, regardless of where you are. However, if you keep certain goals in mind throughout the process, it can ease your stress. These milestones help keep parties focused and pressing on, even when things become difficult. If you need help navigating the divorce process in Colorado, our family attorneys at Springs Law Group could help you through this difficult transition.

Filing for Divorce

The first step in the Colorado divorce process is filing. Many consultations happen prior to a party filing for divorce, and during these initial meetings, we always advise individuals not to rush into this process. We want to make sure that is it the route you want to take.

We are frequently asked if there is an advantage of filing first. In our experience, there is truly not a great advantage to filing first, unless you are trying to protect certain marital assets. When a party files for divorce, a temporary injunction automatically falls into place. In broad terms, the temporary injunction puts a freeze on the marital estate. The freeze does not allow parties to dispose of assets or make any major purchases. The filing of the Petition for Dissolution signals the commencement of the divorce case.

The Initial Status Conference

The Initial Status Conference (ISC) is the first time the parties need to step into the courthouse. Although nerve-wracking, the ISC is an easy way to get used to being in the courthouse for the purposes of dealing with your divorce. The ISC is a ten to twenty minute scheduling conference that occurs in a small room, with a family court facilitator. It is not held in the actual courtroom. At the ISC, parties may request a temporary orders hearing. They also receive deadlines for things such as disclosures, discovery requests, and experts.

Settlement Conference During the Divorce Process

The Settlement Conference is the next milestone. The Court always requires a settlement conference prior to the Temporary Orders Hearing because this meeting is an informal opportunity for the parties to discuss any issues and come to some sort of resolution. We have had entire cases settled during a  Settlement Conferences. However, there are also times where nothing gets resolved. It just depends on the case.

The Temporary Orders Hearing

In Colorado, the Temporary Orders Hearing is the first of two hearings in a typical divorce case. Whatever issues not resolved at the settlement conference, will be addressed at the Temporary Orders Hearing. The Temporary Orders Hearing is where the judge essentially puts a band-aid on the entire situation. When a couple separates, there are a lot of items that need to be taken care of—the mortgage, insurance, temporary parenting time, and other marital bills. Orders given out at a Temporary Orders Hearing are just that, temporary. Keep in mind, the Final Orders Hearing is where permanent orders are made during the marriage dissolution process.

Mediation in Colorado Divorce Cases

The Court also requires mediation as part of the divorce process. These meetings are similar to a settlement conference, but more formalized. Mediation requires either a private mediator or a mediator through the Office of Dispute Resolution.

The Office of Dispute Resolution is the mediation office through the courthouse. Again, similar to the settlement conference, some cases settle completely at mediation, while others do not. The Court requires a “good faith effort.” Although most people think a good faith effort is just a phrase, we encourage individuals to go into mediation with an open mind because you never know what problems you may be able to resolve.

The Final Orders Hearing

The last hurdle in a divorce case is the Final Orders Hearing. Unlike the Temporary Orders Hearing, the actions issued during these proceedings are permanent. At this point, the divorce is finalized. The final division of marital property, debt, and parenting time are decided at the Final Orders Hearing. For example, if the parties have a marital home, the Court will determine if the house should be sold, if one of the parties gets to keep the house and pay out the other party, or how the parties should sell their equity should. At the Final Orders Hearing the Court also enters a Decree of Dissolution. At that time, the parties are officially divorced and permanent orders are put into place. To learn more about the divorce process in Colorado, contact our firm today.