In Colorado, a divorce is begun with the filing of two documents with
the Court: the Summons and the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. A
number of additional documents are filed with these documents as you
can see from the Colorado Courts website, www.courts.state.co.us (Go
to self-help center, forms.) Next, the Summons and Petition are served
on the Responding party. This begins a 90 day waiting period, during
which no Final Decree can be issued.
Within 40 days from the filing of the Petition, the parties are to attend an Initial Status Conference with their attorneys. If both parties are represented by lawyers, they may avoid coming to Court for this conference and may file another document, called a Case Management Plan. Both the Initial Status Conference and the Case Management Plan are methods of providing information to the Colorado Court of what the parties intend to do to complete the divorce.
Within 40 days from the Service of the Petition, both parties are expected to provide Disclosures of their financial status, i.e. any fact that is material to the resolution of the case. In addition to the Sworn Financial Statement, required disclosures are income documentation -- pay statements or other documentation, most recent 3 years of income tax returns, any business or personal financial statements, real estate documents, debt documents (including the documents creating the debt and most recent statement showing balance and payment terms) employment benefits, retirement statements, bank accounts (most recent) child care documentation, insurance documentation, and any extraordinary expenses for the children, such as for orthodontia.
After this exchange, the parties are to meet to settle immediate issues, such as temporary support and payment of debts, and parenting time, residence of the children, and any other issues that need to be decided immediately. If the parties cannot agree they can have a Colorado District Court Magistrate decide the issue at a hearing.
The parties are expected to attend the Parenting Class, attend mediation, and conduct a final four way meeting before final orders. If the Mediation or the four way settlement conference results in a complete agreement, the terms are memorialized in a Separation Agreement which is submitted to the Court with the Decree of Dissolution and Affidavit of Non Appearance and typical no hearing is needed. If there are children, and one or both parties do not have attorneys, there is a short hearing before the Magistrate to review and approve the Separation Agreement. If there are no children or if there are children and both parties are represented by attorneys, no hearing is necessary.
If there is no agreement, there is a final orders hearing before the District Court Judge assigned to the case. This hearing cannot occur until after the 90 day waiting period has expired.