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.