If you and your spouse agree on all property, debt, and child custody issues, it may be possible for you to obtain an uncontested divorce in Colorado. Uncontested divorces are usually much less expensive and can be obtained much quicker than a contested divorce. The main difference is that in an uncontested divorce, the parties come to agreement on all issues and present the Court with a Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan (if there are children involved). As long as the provisions of the Separation Agreement are relatively fair (not unconscionable is the legal standard) the Judge will approve the agreement and adopt it as an order of the Court.
If there are children, a Parenting Plan needs to be presented to the Court that addresses all issues relevant to the children. The relevant issues are decision-making, parenting time, and child support. As long as the Parenting Plan submitted to the court appears to be in the best interests of the children and addresses all these issues, the court will generally adopt the plan as an order of the Court.
There is also a provision in Colorado rules of civil procedure that allows the parties to obtain the divorce without having to attend a hearing. This is often referred to as a “decree upon affidavit.” This allows the Court to adopt the parties’ agreements, adopt them as orders of the Court, and dissolve the marriage without the parties being present.
In order for the Court to grant your uncontested divorce in Colorado, there are a few requirements.
- You or your spouse must have been a resident of the state of Colorado for at least 91 days.
- If you and your spouse own property to be divided you both must have signed a Separation Agreement that lists the property to be divided and clearly states who gets what.
- The Separation Agreement must state that the marriage is irretrievably broken (this is the grounds for the divorce).
- The agreement must state that you and your spouse have no children and that the wife is not currently pregnant. (If you do have children see next item)
- If you have minor children, the agreement must address child custody, visitation, and child support. Colorado statutes no longer use the terms custody or visitation, instead we use the terms decision-making and parenting time.
- If you wish to obtain the uncontested divorce without having to appear for a hearing, you must also show that your spouse has been served with the Affidavit. You can find a sample affidavit for decree without appearance at http://www.courts.state.co.us/forms/renderForm1.cfm?Form=65
Once the court has received all your documents, the Judge will decide if he or she is willing to grant the divorce without a hearing. Judges differ on under what conditions they will grant a divorce without the parties having to appear. Some judges want the parties to appear so the judge can ask questions and assure the court that the agreement is being entered into voluntarily and get that on the record in case there is question later as to whether the agreement was willing and voluntary.
Even if your case looks like it will be uncontested, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced family law attorney to make sure you are addressing all the relevant issues and that the documents you are filing with the court are in order. Many times a review by an experienced family law attorney of proposed agreements can save you the aggravation of multiple trips to the judge to get the divorce concluded.
The experienced family law attorneys at The Gasper Law Group will be happy to look at your case and advise you as to how best to proceed.
Many times couples are unable to come to agreement as to the issues involved in their divorce. Whether it is the division of property and debt or child custody issues, if the parties cannot agree (or even have a civil conversation) the other option is to have a third party (usually a judge) make a decision and impose that ruling on the parties. For obvious reasons, these cases are generally much more expensive and take longer to resolve.
Many times parties are able to agree on some issues and unable to agree on others. In these cases, the parties typically tell the court (through pleadings filed in the case) what issues are agreed to and what issues are left for the judge to decide. After the parties have attempted mediation, the court will hold a contested orders hearing where the parties are given the opportunity to present evidence in the form of document and/or testimony, and make arguments to the court as to how they think the contested issues should be resolved.
Contested divorces many times present complex legal issues. The experienced family law attorneys at The Gasper Law Group will be happy to meet with you and advise you based upon the particular circumstances of your case.