1. HOW DO I FILE FOR A DIVORCE?
A divorce action begins by filing a summons and petition for dissolution of marriage in the District Court in the proper jurisdiction. If you do not use an attorney, there are form packets available in your local courthouse. The paperwork must be accurately completed (most courts require that it be typed) and given to the Clerk of the court with a filing fee.
2. IRRETRIEVABLE BREAKDOWN AND HOW LONG DOES A DIVORCE TAKE?
You cannot get a divorce in less than 90 days. The 90 days begins when your spouse is served with a summons and petition, or signs a waiver of service. Most cases take between six months and a year. Only one party must state that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
3. WHAT ARE TEMPORARY ORDERS?
Between the time you file for divorce and the time of your permanent orders hearing you may need court assistance to decide who lives where, who uses what property, who pays what debts, etc. These "temporary" orders expire at your permanent orders hearing and do not mandate what will happen at the permanent orders hearing. Generally temporary orders can be obtained to resolve the following issues: parental responsibility, parenting time, child support, use of property, maintenance, payment of ongoing debts and attorney fees. Some jurisdictions require that temporary orders be heard within 45 days of the date of service of the petition and summons.
4. WHAT ARE RESTRAINING ORDERS?
A restraining order is a court order that prohibits a person from doing a particular action.
All Colorado dissolution of marriage actions have automatic restraining orders that prohibit a spouse from hiding or disposing of property, molesting or disturbing the other spouse, or removing the children from Colorado, without the consent of the other party or a court order, or changing insurance policies without notice or consent.
Additional temporary restraining orders can be obtained at a temporary orders hearing if extraordinary relief is needed.
5. WHAT IS PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY?
The statute urges parties to share the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing. Parenting time and decision making responsibilities are know as "parental responsibility."
6. WHAT RULES ARE USED WHEN DECIDING PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY?
The general rule of law is that the "best interests of the child" controls when the Judge makes any decision about decision making and parenting time (formerly known as "visitation") for your children. You can assume that both parents will have significant parenting time unless there is some danger to the child's health or emotional development.
7. HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATED?
The Colorado State legislature has established the amount that is required to support a child based upon the gross incomes of the parents. Included in the child support amount are child care and medical costs as well as other extraordinary expenses. Each parent is obligated to pay their proportional amount based on their share of the gross income.
8. WHAT IS MARITAL PROPERTY?
All property is considered marital property, unless it came from "BIG"— (a) if it was acquired Before the marriage; (b) if it was acquired by Inheritance; or (c) if it was acquired by Gift. Increases in the value of separate property become marital in nature.
9. HOW DOES THE JUDGE DIVIDE MARITAL PROPERTY?
Colorado Statute provides that, without regard to marital fault, the Court divides the marital property between both parties as the "court deems just." Most Judges believe a 50-50 division is just. However, the range is approximately from 40% - 60%.
10. AM I ENTITLED TO MAINTENANCE?
To be qualified for maintenance, the court must find that you lack enough property to provide for your reasonable needs, and that you cannot support yourself through appropriate
employment, or you are the custodian of a child whose condition makes it appropriate that you not be required to seek outside employment.
11. HOW IS THE DIVORCE FINALLY RESOLVED?
Most couples are able to negotiate a settlement and enter into an enforceable contract called a Separation Agreement. If a couple is unable to reach a settlement, then "permanent orders" are entered by a Judge after hearing the evidence. The property division is final and not modifiable unless there is fraud. The custody and support orders will be final but may be modified in a post-judgment proceeding.
12. CAN I GET MY SPOUSE TO PAY MY LAWYER FEES?
If there is a disparity between your incomes, the court can order one spouse to pay all or a portion of the other spouse's legal fees.
HELP YOUR CHILD COPE WITH DIVORCE (10 helpful hints)
- Listen to your child; Watch what his\her behavior “says” as well as his\her words. Look for sadness, anger, anxiety, fears and worries, withdrawal and confusion.
- Ask your child what he/she is feeling. Never assume they feel how you do or that you know what they feel- kids will surprise you.
- Allow you child to have different feelings and responses than your own, even if it is difficult.
- Do not criticize or put down the other parent. It may be hard, but is very important to your child’s ability to cope well with the divorce.
- Explain to your child that even though the marriage is ending, you will both continue to be his/her parents. Divorce ends marriage, not parenthood. Repeat this message as needed to reassure your child.
- Keep your child out of conflict between you and your spouse. Adult problems are not for children and involving them will only cause more trouble for them.
- Encourage your child’s relationship with his/her other parent. Give your child permission to love both parents. This may be tough, but is an absolute must even if the other parent is less than ideal, or has been less involved with the child before.
- Assure your child you will be able to take care of him/her and of yourself.
- Tell your child as much as you can about what to expect in the future, without making promises you may not be able to keep.
- Utilize support. Both you and your child need support in coping with these times of crises and change. You probably won’t be at your best during this time, so do not be afraid to ask for help. Get support for yourself; you cannot help you child if you are too upset yourself. Ask your friends, neighbors, relatives, teachers, clergy, etc., for support for you and your child. Consider professional help for yourself and/or child if there seems to be a problem.