The overview of the divorce process in Colorado Springs is as follows: The petitioner or filing party files the petition for dissolution of marriage, case information sheet, and summons with the court. Then, the petitioner needs to get service on the respondent. Once service is obtained, the parties attend the initial status conference where the court lays out dates and deadlines of the case and asks if the parties want to have a temporary orders hearing.
If the parties want a temporary orders hearing, then they must have a good-faith settlement conference to try to resolve the issues before the temporary orders hearing. After the temporary orders hearing, the parties set the case for a final orders hearing.
Prior to the final orders hearing, the parties must attend mandatory mediation to try to resolve the issues in the case. Any remaining or unresolved issues are heard at the final orders hearing where the parties become officially divorced. It is important to note that it is likely there will be more court hearings in a contested divorce case over an uncontested one.
The role of the initiating spouse is that they are the petitioner in the case. They are the ones who are petitioning the court for the dissolution of marriage. The filing party or the petitioner must file a petition for dissolution of marriage, case information sheet, and summons with the court and additionally pay a filing fee to start the divorce process.
The spouse responding to the divorce is referred to as the respondent in the case. If they sign the petition for dissolution of marriage with the petitioner, then they are referred to as the co-petitioner. The respondent will be given or served the petition for dissolution of marriage, case information sheet, and summons. Service can happen by the respondent signing the petition for dissolution of marriage with the petitioner, by the respondent signing a document called a waiver of service stating that they filed for documents, or by being served by a process server.
The respondent must file their response to the petition for dissolution of marriage with the court within 21 days after service of the summons, with some exceptions. If the respondent does not want to respond, then they are agreeing that the information of the petition for dissolution is accurate by their lack of response. A response to the petition is necessary when noting any inaccuracies in the petition as well as any additional issues from the respondent.
If the spouse cannot be located by the petitioner, then the petitioner must get permission from the court to try to serve the respondent or other party by publication, which would be putting service or notice in a local newspaper for a period of time.
If someone in Colorado Springs wants to file for divorce, they need to go to the El Paso County Courthouse. When someone files a divorce case, it is assigned both a magistrate and a district court judge. The magistrate hears the temporary orders hearing or the uncontested divorce case, and the district court judge hears contested court hearings and contested final orders hearings. In the Fourth Judicial District, mediation is a mandatory part of the process. Generally, prior to final orders hearings, the parties must attend court-ordered mediation and mediate in good faith. The judge themselves do not choose the mediator; they just require that mediation occur prior to the final hearing.
If there are children involved in a Colorado Springs divorce case, the process changes because then the parties must develop a parenting plan, which details parenting time, decision-making, and child support. In certain cases, the parties may hire parenting experts such as a child and family investigator, a parental responsibilities evaluator, a parenting coordinator decision-maker, and/or a therapist. The court also could order parenting classes for each individual parent. The length of these cases depend on the complexity of the situation and how contested the issues are between the parties. The more fighting and disagreement on issues like parenting and child support, the longer the divorce case will last.
Generally, immediately is the best time to involve a divorce attorney because the sooner one has information, the more knowledgeable they can be about the process in the Colorado Springs. In some instances, it is better to wait if two parties are getting along and working together to solve their issues. However, we always recommend, even if two parties have an agreement, having that agreement reviewed by experienced legal counsel.
One of the biggest ways a Colorado Springs attorney can help someone during a divorce process is to provide sound advice that is not based on emotion. Divorces can be highly emotional, and a good lawyer could help take the emotion out of it and keep the focus on the big picture. For help with your case, call today.