If you have never been divorced, you probably have many questions about the process and what to expect. There are specific proceedings as part of Colorado divorces you must be aware of in order to achieve your desired outcome.
Click the buttons below to explore each of the hearings you can expect, as well as what to do following a divorce in order to have complete records from your case.
What is an Initial Status Conference (ISC)?
An ISC is the first hearing in a typical divorce case. When a Dissolution of Marriage is filed the Court sets the Initial Status Conference (ISC). The Court can even set this hearing before the other party has been served notice. This means that if you are served Dissolution of Marriage documents, it is important that you check with the Court Clerk and see if there is an ISC already set.
As with any court proceeding, it is important that you be prepared for the ISC. The hearing is conducted by a court facilitator in most cases. There are some judges that do their own ISCs, but this is the exception. At the ISC the Court facilitator will want to see your sworn financial statements or if either or both parties do not have them ready, he or she will set a date that they will be due to the court.
Typically, there are no decisions made or evidence presented at the ISC. This is particularly true if the conference is held with a court facilitator. Court facilitators are not judges or magistrates. They have no authority to make decisions or rulings. The purpose of the ISC is to set procedural deadlines and dates to see that your divorce case proceeds through the court.
The ISC will usually last about 15-30 minutes and at the conclusion of the ISC the Court will issue an ISC order. This document will be given to both parties and is basically a road map of the case going forward. Included will be a date for a Temporary Orders hearing if either or both parties request one be scheduled. See our section on Temporary Orders Hearings for more information on this.
If you have filed for a Dissolution or been served with one, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Gasper Law Group, and we will be glad to represent you at the ISC. Having an experienced family law attorney at your side will greatly reduce the stress and anxiety that often accompanies court hearings.
What is a Temporary Orders Hearing?
A Temporary Orders Hearing is a hearing requested by either party where a magistrate enters orders regarding decision-making, parenting time, spousal maintenance, child support, use and possession of the marital home, debt maintenance issues, and any other issue that needs to be addressed on a temporary basis as the case proceeds to final orders. Temporary Orders Hearings are usually held about 2 to 4 months after the date of filing. It typically takes six months to a year for a Dissolution case to get all the way to Final Orders, so it is important in many cases that the Court enter orders in the meantime on these issues.
In most counties, Temporary Orders are presided over by a magistrate. The magistrate does not have the authority to make final or permanent orders regarding contested issues. The orders issued at the Temporary Orders Hearing are in effect until the case is resolved wither by negotiated settlement or at a Final Orders Hearing presided over by a Judge who does have the authority to issue permanent orders.
As with all court hearings, it is very important that you be well-prepared for this hearing. It is imperative that you have all evidence ready and in proper form to submit to the court at the date and time set. In many counties, there will be a time limit for the hearing (usually 1 hour total). This means you will only have about 25 minutes to present your evidence and cross examine the other party’s witnesses. Any documents you want the court to consider need to have been provided to the other side ahead of time as required by the rules.
If you are facing a Temporary Orders Hearing it is highly recommended that you have an experienced family law attorney to represent you. There are no do-overs and the magistrate will not likely allow you to reschedule if you show up unprepared.
What is a Final Orders Hearing?
The Final Orders Hearing is the final stage of the Dissolution process. At this hearing the Judge will make decisions and rule as to the final division of marital property and debts, spousal maintenance (known as alimony in other states), child support, decision-making, and parenting time (sometimes referred to as allocation of parental responsibilities APR). If either party is asking that the other pay or reimburse for attorney fees, this issue will also be addressed at Final Orders.
Most Final Orders hearings are scheduled for 2-3 hours, or a full day if the court is expecting an unusual amount of evidence to be presented. Most cases can be heard in that amount of time and it is typical for the judge to rule at the end of the presentation of evidence. In some cases, however, it may not be possible to complete the presentation of evidence in the time allotted. The judge has the authority to continue the proceedings to be finished another day if he or she sees fit. While judges do have very busy schedules and they prefer to complete cases as scheduled, they also do not want to rule on insufficient evidence and in general they want to give both parties ample time to present their evidence and make their arguments. In some cases, the judge will hear all the evidence and tell the parties they will need time to make their decision. In that circumstance, the judge will usually set a date and time for the parties to return and get the judge’s ruling.
If the parties have been able to agree on all issues pertaining to their divorce they may be able to present their agreement to the court in writing and completely avoid a Final Orders hearing. If there are minor children, both parties must be represented by an attorney to avoid an uncontested Final Orders Hearing. If there are no children, it is sufficient for only one attorney to be involved. If it is necessary to hold an uncontested final orders hearing, either a judge or a magistrate may hear the case. They will review the agreements of the parties and make findings that the financial agreements are “fair and not unconscionable” and that the agreements regarding children are in the best interest of the children before adopting the agreements as an order.
If the parties have agreed on some issues and not others, the matter must be set for a contested Final Orders hearing in front of the assigned judge and will address the issues remaining to be resolved.
As with all court hearings, it is critical that you arrive prepared to present your case in the time allotted and according to the rules. There are documents required to be filed prior to the hearing (Called a Trial Management Certificate) and the judge may be displeased with one or both parties if this is not done according to the rules. There are no do-overs and the judge is very unlikely to postpone the proceedings just because one party or the other is not ready to proceed as scheduled.
If you are facing a Final Orders Hearing, contact the Gasper Law Group and one of our experienced family law attorneys will meet with you to discuss your case. Our attorneys have conducted countless and are well-qualified to represent you.
How Do I Retrieve Copies of My Court Documents?
After a divorce or custody case people often ask where they can go to get copies of their respective court documents. The issue also arises when people are represented by an attorney and then the attorney withdraws from the case. It is common for individuals to come into our office requesting we obtain copies of their records on their behalf because they do not know how to obtain the information themselves.
If parties still reside in El Paso County they can go to the courthouse and request the documents they need. Also, the court has a link to allow parties to retrieve copies of their court documents. Parties can get certified copies of these documents as well. The link is: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Self_Help/Research/index.cfm
It is important to know that the Orders from the case are the laws surrounding your divorce or custody proceedings. Therefore, having copies and access to this information is necessary after one’s case is closed. The Gasper Law Group endeavors to provide clients with copies of all pertinent documents and information throughout the course of our representation, but if you need assistance retrieving your documents please contact our office.