Ending your marriage will likely be one of the most difficult decisions you will make in your life and going through a divorce is confusing, challenging and stressful. Aviso Law represents men and women in all types of family law cases, including divorce. At Aviso Law, our experienced Colorado Springs based divorce attorneys will guide you through the divorce process providing you with strong, thoughtful, diligent advice to protect you and your family’s interests.
Even if the divorce is uncontested and the parties are in agreement on all the issues, there are difficult, complex decisions to make regarding children and property. The advice and guidance of an experienced divorce attorney can greatly improve your chances of achieving a successful outcome. Having an attorney on your side early in the process will ensure your rights and interests are protected. The divorce attorneys at Aviso Law can work with divorcing clients who are not necessarily fighting with their spouse to help craft a fair agreement to keep the divorce amicable.
The typical contested divorce process in Colorado can be complex, and the following is a general outline of the steps involved in a divorce with children:
Residency: You or your spouse must have lived in Colorado at least 91 days before you may file for divorce. In order for a Colorado court to enter any orders related to parental responsibilities (custody), the minor child must have lived in Colorado for at least 182 days prior to you filing your divorce case.
Initial Document Filing: The initial documents to file for divorce in Colorado include a case information sheet, petition for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, and summons for dissolution of marriage or legal separation. The court fee to file for divorce is $236.
Serving Initial Documents: After filing the initial documents with the court, you must arrange to serve the opposing party with the case information sheet, petition for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, summons for dissolution of marriage or legal Separation, or waive service.
Opposing Party Response: After service, the opposing party will have 21 days to file a response or 35 days if out of the state.
Initial Status Conference: After the case is filed, the parties are required to attend the initial status conference. Every judicial district sets procedures for scheduling the initial status conference. The petitioner (the person who filed) is responsible for scheduling the initial status conference and must schedule it as soon as possible, but no later than 42 days after the filing of the petition. Generally the initial status conference is informal and done with a family court facilitator instead of a judge. During the initial status conference the family court facilitator will provide dates and deadlines the parties must comply with. This is generally known as a case management order and it provides a way forward for the remainder of the case.
Settlement Conference: Prior to any temporary order hearing, the court generally will require the parties to participate in a settlement conference. At the settlement conference the parties will attempt to come to an agreement on a temporary parenting time schedule, the payment of certain bills, temporary child support and temporary spousal maintenance. The settlement conferences involve both parties and counsel.
Temporary Orders Hearing: Frequently the parties cannot agree on a temporary parenting time schedule, the payment of certain bills, temporary child support and temporary spousal maintenance and require a temporary orders hearing. Temporary orders are interim orders that are in place until the parties can come to more permanent agreement or until the parties attend final orders. Temporary orders may be requested for payment of debts, use of property, spousal maintenance, parenting time and child support. Many jurisdictions specify in their case management order the procedures concerning filing for temporary orders.
Mediation: Generally prior to the parties attending the final orders hearing, the court will require the parties to attend mediation. Mediation is done through a neutral third party, and the parties attempt to settle all the disputed issues.
Final Orders: If the parties cannot reach a full and final agreement, the parties will be required to attend the final orders where the all the disputed issues will be litigated and decided by the judge.
- In the state of Colorado, the minimum time from start to finish is 91 days. However, the length of any divorce will depend in large part on the level of disagreement between the parties.
- Colorado is a “no fault” state, therefore, one does not need to show specific reason for a divorce, such as infidelity or abuse.
In the state of Colorado, the process to obtain a legal separation is the same as outlined in the divorce process. The primary advantage and difference of obtaining a legal separation rather than a divorce is the parties are still technically married and as a result may be eligible to remain on the same health insurance and other insurance plans and receive military benefits. Also many people pursue a legal separation rather than a divorce due to religious preferences. The couple is still married and therefore cannot get remarried. However, after filing a petition for legal separation, either party can ask the court to grant a divorce instead of a legal separation. In addition, after a decree of legal separation has been issued, either party can convert it to a decree of dissolution (divorce) after six months has passed.
Common Law Marriage
In this day and age, many individuals find themselves living with their significant other for years and have intertwined their property and finances. However, just because you live with your significant other does not necessarily mean you are common law married. Generally in Colorado the court will determine whether you are common law married. Some of the factors the Colorado court will consider are if the parties have:
- Mutually agreed to be married
- Openly held themselves out to the public as married
- Filed joint federal or state tax returns
- Listed the other party as a spouse on insurance forms
- Combined finances and/or bank accounts
- Purchased property together
We at Aviso can assist you in determining your rights if you believe you are common law married.
Domestic Violence and Divorce
Although Colorado is a no fault state, domestic violence can be a critical factor in determining custody (i.e., allocation of parental responsibilities). In making a determination for the best interests of the child, the court is required to give “paramount consideration” to the safety of the child and the abused party when making determination regarding parenting time and decision-making if domestic abuse is proven. Unfortunately, false allegations of domestic violence are often claimed to gain advantage in a divorce case. You must defend against these allegations because they could have a substantial impact on the ability to interact with your children. Many times parties will also seek a restraining order in order to gain an advantage in custody disputes. The imposition of a restraining order can have a significant impact on a divorce case and must be vigorously defended. At Aviso Law we are skilled trial attorneys with extensive experience representing clients in domestic violence cases.
Civil Protection Order & Permanent Restraining Order
Protection and restraining orders are used to prevent domestic violence, child abuse, assault, stalking, and harassment and are often necessary; however, when a marriage or relationship ends, false allegations of domestic violence or abuse are sometimes made to gain an advantage in a divorce or child custody case. At Aviso Law we pride ourselves on providing aggressive prosecution and defense of restraining orders, and we have the experience, skill and client-focused approach needed to make decisions that benefit you and your family.
The process: A person seeking a protection/restraining order must first apply to the court for a temporary order, which will set a return date for an evidentiary hearing to determine if the order should be made permanent. The temporary restraining order is made on the basis of the accuser’s testimony in a one-sided or ex parte hearing before a judge. The accused party is not informed of the hearing and does not have the right to be heard. They will have that opportunity at the later evidentiary hearing, which will usually take place within one to three weeks. The evidentiary hearing is the critical hearing for the accused party and should not be taken lightly. The person seeking the restraining order must prove by a preponderance of the evidence the accused party has committed acts constituting grounds for issuance of a civil protection order and that, unless restrained, they will continue to commit such acts or acts designed to intimidate or retaliate against the protected person. The person seeking the protective order does not have to show imminent danger from the accused party.
If the protection order becomes permanent, it can have serious and potentially career-ending consequences, and the advice and help of skilled, aggressive attorney at this point in the process is crucial to avoiding unwanted marks on your personal history and career.
For the military member, the consequences of a permanent protection order can jeopardize their military career. The Lautenberg Amendment, in part, attempts to prevent those convicted of domestic violence from owning or possessing guns or ammunition. If a military member receives a permanent protection order, it could result in the military member not being allowed to carry a weapon and may subject them to administrative separation. At Aviso, we’ve spent years learning the ins and outs of the legal system and have the drive and knowledge to effectively represent military members in these and other difficult situations.