Basic flow of a divorce case
In Colorado, a divorce case is known as an action for “dissolution of marriage” and is commenced with the filing of a Petition For Dissolution of Marriage, Summons and Case Information Sheet pursuant to the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act. Unless the parties file the case as Co-Petitioners, the responding party must be served with the dissolution papers, either by signing a Waiver and Acceptance of Service in the presence of a notary or by formal service of the papers by a sheriff or private process server. Once the case is filed with the Court, the Court will issue a Domestic Relations Case Management Order which sets forth that jurisdiction’s specific procedures for the management of divorce cases. If the parties have minor children, each party needs to take a parenting class and file a Certificate of Completion with the Court.
Unless the divorce case commences under emergency circumstances which require the issuance of a Civil Protection Order or other Orders, the first Court appearance in a divorce will be the Initial Status Conference which is held no more than forty two days after the case has been filed. The “ISC” is an opportunity for the parties to advise the Court as to the basic timeline for their retention of experts, their participation in mediation and any additional procedures in order to move the case forward towards settlement or trial.
If the parties file a divorce and need Temporary Orders to determine temporary parenting time arrangements and/or temporary maintenance (alimony), child support and payment of marital debts, the Court will set a Temporary Orders hearing to resolve these issues. In some local jurisdictions, the parties must complete mediation before the Court will allow a Temporary Orders hearing since many cases are successfully resolved through mediation
Within forty two days of the case filing, the parties must complete their mandatory financial disclosures pursuant to C.R.C.P. Rule 16.2. Each party must file a Sworn Financial Statement and Certificate of Compliance with the Court. Each party must provide copies of all supporting documents to their spouse or their spouse’s attorney if the spouse is represented by counsel. Settlement negotiations regarding financial matters should not be conducted until the parties have exchanged mandatory financial disclosures and any additional discovery as may be required based on the facts and circumstances of the case.
If the parties are able to resolve all issues in their dissolution action and each party is represented by counsel, they can conclude the case without a court appearance based upon the timely filing of a Separation Agreement, Parenting Plan (if there are minor children) and additional documents. If the parties are unable to resolve all issues in their case, the contested issues will be resolved at a Permanent Orders hearing before the District Court Judge. Once Permanent Orders have been entered, the Court issues a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage which adopts and incorporates the parties’ Stipulations and the Court’s Orders.
Benefit of Legal Representation Throughout the Case
Many divorcing parties try to navigate the domestic relations system without the benefit of legal counsel and quickly become overwhelmed by the volume of forms and procedures which are required in these cases. For individuals who are terminating short term marriages that have produced no children or significant assets or debts, it is certainly possible to finalize a divorce case without retaining counsel. For individuals who have minor children, assets or debts, it is often “penny wise and pound foolish” to render important legal decisions in your divorce case without the benefit of an attorney who is working to protect your interests. At the law office of Edra J. Pollin, we take pride in working diligently to protect your best interests and the best interests of your children at every stage of the divorce proceeding.