Coming to the decision to file for dissolution of marriage is a tough one. It can also signify the start of a very stressful and confusing process as parties attempt to end a relationship and everything that comes along with the relationship.
Understanding the dissolution process can help clear up that confusion for all involved, and a good dissolution attorney can assist in clearing up any misconceptions about what is involved.
1. Petition For Dissolution
Once parties decide to end the marriage, one of the parties will need to file a petition with the District Court of the county in which either or both parties live.
This person is called the “Petitioner,” as it is he or she who files the petition. It is important that the person who does file has been a resident of the State of Colorado for a period of at least 91 days before filing.
2. Serve The Other Party
Once the petition has been filed in court, a copy of the filed documents must be formally served upon the Respondent, the other party in the case. The Respondent then has 21 days from the date of service to file a response, if needed.
If he or she lives out of state, the Respondent has 35 days for a response, to allow for extra time. Once service is complete and proof of service is filed with the court or a waiver of service has been signed, a temporary injunction order normally goes into effect.
The point of this temporary injunction is to ensure that parties cannot harass each other, that one cannot move the children to another state or country and that no marital assets are hidden or destroyed.
Further, serving the petition on the other party also begins the 91-day “cooling off” period, required by Colorado courts. A court cannot finalize a dissolution before the end of this 91-day period.
3. Case Management Order
Once the petition for dissolution has been filed, the Clerk of Court will also issue a case management order (CMO), which outlines the deadlines and basic requirements for the dissolution.
The CMO usually gives the date and time of the initial status conference and also is normally issued before the Respondent is served with the petition.
4. Initial Status Conference
Following the filing and once the Respondent has been served, the parties will meet for the initial status conference (ISC). This meeting is in court or before a family court facilitator in the courthouse.
At this meeting, the court will give deadlines for parties to exchange financial information and records. The court will also give deadlines for mediation and parenting classes to occur. A party may also seek an emergency or temporary custody or financial order at the ISC.
5. Financial Information Exchange
One of the most important steps of the divorce is for the parties to exchange financial information and documents. In fact, it must occur within 42 days of the date the Respondent receives service of the dissolution petition.
These documents include:
- Federal and state tax returns for the past three years;
- Titles to homes and vehicles;
- Credit Card statements;
- Bank statements;
- Retirement accounts;
- Paystubs and proof of income
Parties must also prepare and sign a Sworn Financial Statement, swearing and affirming that all information is given and all statements made are true and that all mandatory disclosures have been made. If a person is self-employed, more financial information may be required.
6. Parenting Classes
When the marriage resulted in the birth of minor children, parties must attend a court-approved parenting class. All district courts will have resources for where these classes are held and how much the cost.
Once the class is completed, each parent must file a copy of the certificate of completion with the court.
7. Temporary Or Emergency Orders
During the time period between filing to a final hearing, matters may come up where an emergency or temporary order must be made.
Child support and spousal maintenance, as well as custody or parenting issues, may require that a temporary order be issued following a brief hearing. These requests can be made at any time before the final hearing.
8. Settlement Or Mediation
Most legal matters are settled outside of the courtroom. For many dissolution cases, mediation is an alternative that works in the favor of both parties.
Mediation can be less expensive and allows parties to come to an agreement without needing a heated, lengthy court battle. Once an agreement is reached, it is simply entered into the court record and the dissolution is granted.
Even if not all issues can be resolved, mediation can allow parties to resolve the issues that they can, leaving the court hearing to present evidence on a select few issues, saving the court time in the process.
9. Permanent Orders Hearing
Once all information has been exchanged and the 91-day waiting period has expired, the final step in the dissolution process is a permanent orders hearing (POH).
These hearings are normally set for a half-day, but can often take multiple days if the issues are particularly complicated. Witnesses are sworn, the evidence submitted, and parties are allowed to present their cases for the court’s review.
Once all evidence is submitted, the court will prepare an order and will enter the divorce decree.
Call The Law Offices Of Kelli J Malcolm Today
Divorce is complicated and can be a stressful matter for anyone, and we are here to help you through the process. Call the Law Offices of Kelli J Malcolm today for your free 30-minute phone consultation at 720-261-7287.