Contact Us 720.594.7360
Search Contact Us 720.594.7360

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in Colorado?

If you got married in Colorado, you might have been surprised by how fast and easy the process can be. In fact, Colorado is a self-solemnization state, which means you don’t even need an officiant to get married if you don’t want one, and you don’t need a witness either. 

You might also be surprised to learn that divorce in Colorado is a different story. Thanks to a mandatory “cooling off” period, the divorce process in Colorado takes a minimum of 91 days to complete, even for uncontested filings. 

For complicated cases with many disagreements, it can take nine months to a year or longer for a divorce to be finalized. The exact duration of the divorce proceedings can vary greatly depending on the specific circumstances of the case. 

We’re going to break down and explore the different types of divorces, the mandatory waiting period in Colorado, and the steps you can take to speed up the process. 

The 91-day Mandatory Waiting Period

In Colorado, the shortest amount of time a divorce can take is 91 days from the date of filing the initial petition. That’s because Colorado has a statutory 91-day waiting period intended to avoid spur-of-the-moment divorces and give couples a chance to “cool off” and decide whether they can reconcile or if divorce is, indeed, the right choice. 

The 91-day waiting period applies to all situations, even when there are no unresolved issues and both spouses agree to dissolve the marriage. Once the 91 days are over, if both parties agree to all terms and the paperwork is submitted correctly, the divorce can be granted shortly thereafter. 

Types of Divorces in Colorado

In Colorado, the time it takes to finalize a divorce depends largely on the parties involved and how they choose to resolve their issues. While some divorces can be resolved quickly, others may take significantly longer, particularly if the case is highly contested.

Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on all major issues such as property division, child custody, and support. Since there are no disputes to resolve, the process moves quickly and smoothly. With both parties on the same page, there’s no need for lengthy negotiations and drawn-out court appearances. In some cases, the divorce can be finalized shortly after the mandatory 91-day waiting period.

  • Advantages:
    1. Faster resolution
    2. Lower legal costs
    3. Less emotional stress
  • Process:
    1. Jointly filing the petition for dissolution of marriage
    2. Waiting for the mandatory 91-day period
    3. Submitting the agreement and obtaining the court’s approval

“An uncontested divorce is the best way to ensure that both parties can move forward without unnecessary conflict or expense” – Denver Divorce Attorney, Joe Cash.

Mediated Divorce

In a mediated divorce, a neutral third party (the mediator) helps the spouses negotiate and reach a settlement agreement. The mediator facilitates discussions, ensuring that both parties communicate effectively and consider each other’s perspectives. This process is often faster than going to court and can be less adversarial.

  • Advantages:
      1. Encourages cooperation and communication
      2. Often quicker than litigation
      3. Can be less costly than a litigated divorce
  • Process:
    1. Filing the petition for dissolution of marriage
    2. Selecting a qualified mediator
    3. Attending mediation sessions
    4. Drafting a settlement agreement
    5. Submitting the agreement to the court for approval

“Using mediation can help both parties feel more in control of the process and often leads to more amicable solutions” – Colorado Springs Divorce Attorney, Jon Wandersee.

Litigated Divorces

Litigated divorces, on the other hand, can take much longer, especially if the case is highly contested. In a litigated divorce, each spouse will typically hire their own attorney to reach the agreements necessary to resolve outstanding issues and finalize the divorce. These divorces often involve multiple court appearances, discovery, and negotiations, which can extend beyond twelve months in some cases.

  • Advantages:
      1. Each party has legal representation to advocate for their interests
      2. Suitable for highly complex cases
      3. Court decisions can be more structured and enforceable
  • Process:
    1. Hire an attorney
    2. Filing the petition and response
    3. Engaging in discovery (exchange of information)
    4. Attending court hearings and possibly a trial
    5. Receiving a final judgment from the court

“Litigated divorces often involve more emotional and financial strain due to their contentious nature and the length of the process” – Colorado Family Law and Criminal Defense Attorney, Ashley Whitham.

Common Things That Delay Colorado Divorces 

Navigating the divorce process in Colorado can sometimes be prolonged due to various factors. Understanding the common causes of delays can help you anticipate and manage potential setbacks effectively.

Time Needed to Gather Financial Disclosures 

When you file for divorce in a Colorado county court, both parties will have 42 days to submit financial information. However, if it will take more time to gather this financial information, you can generally ask the court for an extension.

Here are some common financial documents that you will need:

1. Income Information

  • Pay Stubs: Recent pay stubs from all sources of employment.
  • Tax Returns: Federal and state tax returns for the past three years.
  • W-2 Forms: Forms from employers showing annual income.
  • 1099 Forms: Forms showing income from freelance work, interest, dividends, or other sources.

2. Bank Statements

  • Checking Accounts.
  • Savings Accounts.
  • Joint Accounts.

Though generally speaking having 6-12 months’ worth of statements is a safe bet, in the laws of Colorado only the most recent statement is mandatory.

3. Investment Accounts

  • Retirement Accounts: Statements from 401(k), IRA, pension plans, and other retirement accounts.
  • Brokerage Accounts: Statements from investment accounts showing stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
  • Other Investments: Documentation of any other investment assets.

4. Property and Real Estate

  • Deeds and Titles: Documents for any real estate owned, including primary residence, vacation homes, and investment properties.
  • Mortgage Statements: Current mortgage statements showing outstanding balances.
  • Appraisals: Recent appraisals for real estate properties to determine current market value.

5. Debts and Liabilities

  • Credit Card Statements: Recent statements for all credit cards.
  • Loan Statements: Documentation for personal loans, student loans, car loans, and other debts.
  • Lines of Credit: Statements for any lines of credit.

6. Business Financials

  • Financial Statements: Profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for any businesses owned.
  • Business Tax Returns: Tax returns for any businesses owned for the past three years. .
  • K-1 Forms: Documentation of ownership and partnership interests.

7. Household Expenses

  • Utility Bills: Recent statements for utilities such as electricity, water, gas, and internet.
  • Insurance Policies: Documentation of health, life, home, and auto insurance policies.
  • Monthly Budgets: Detailed records of monthly household expenses.

8. Miscellaneous Assets

  • Personal Property: Lists and appraisals of valuable personal property, including jewelry, art, and collectibles.
  • Vehicle Titles: Titles and loan statements for cars, boats, motorcycles, and other vehicles.
  • Savings Bonds and Certificates of Deposit (CDs): Documentation for any savings bonds and CDs.

Disputes Over Major Issues

Delays also often arise from disagreements over the division of marital property, debt, child custody, visitation rights, and support issues. The more contentious these issues are, the longer the divorce process will take. Each unresolved issue may require negotiation, mediation, or court intervention that can significantly extend the timeline for your divorce.

Court and Judge Availability 

The availability of the court and judges can also impact the timeline of your divorce. Busy county courts, judge unavailability, and internal court procedures for setting and conducting final hearings can cause delays. The time required varies by court and depends on which court processes your petition.

Mediation Sessions

Mediation sessions, commonly required in contested divorces in Colorado, can create additional delays before a final hearing date can be set. This step aims to resolve disputes, but it can also extend the timeline.

How to Speed up a Colorado Divorce 

While there’s no way around the 91-day waiting period, there are things you can do to make sure your divorce proceedings move along smoothly and don’t take considerably longer than the required waiting period. Here are a few best practices to accelerate the process and avoid dragging out your divorce for months on end.  

Consider using alternative resolution methods like mediation. Mediation involves a neutral mediator who helps both parties reach a mutually agreeable solution, and can help you resolve issues more quickly and avoid the lengthy process of a court battle. 

Focus on finding agreement rather than creating conflict. Disputes can significantly delay the process as emotions escalate and negotiations become more complex. 

Prioritize open communication and compromise to resolve issues quickly. A cooperative mindset and striving for amicable solutions can help you avoid extended timelines associated with contentious divorces. Both parties can work toward a faster resolution, minimizing the emotional and financial strain of prolonged divorce proceedings.

Consult experienced divorce attorneys. Our seasoned attorneys are well-versed in the intricacies of divorce law in Colorado and can provide strategic advice to navigate the legal complexities efficiently.

1. Expert Legal Guidance

  • Understanding the Law: An attorney is well-versed in Colorado divorce laws and procedures, ensuring that your case complies with all legal requirements.
  • Strategic Advice: They can provide strategic advice tailored to your situation, helping you make informed decisions that align with your best interests.

2. Efficient Document Preparation

  • Accurate Paperwork: An attorney will prepare and file all necessary legal documents accurately and promptly, reducing the risk of errors that could cause delays.
  • Comprehensive Documentation: They ensure that all required financial documents, property records, and other critical paperwork are complete and properly submitted.

3. Negotiation and Mediation

  • Facilitating Agreements: Attorneys can facilitate negotiations between parties to reach mutually agreeable settlements quickly, avoiding prolonged court battles.
  • Mediation Support: They can represent you in mediation sessions, ensuring that your interests are protected and that the process moves efficiently.

4. Managing Court Procedures

  • Court Filings: Your attorney handles all court filings and procedural requirements, ensuring that deadlines are met and the process stays on track.
  • Representation in Hearings: They represent you in court hearings, effectively presenting your case and addressing any issues that arise promptly.

5. Reducing Conflict

  • Minimizing Disputes: Attorneys can help manage and reduce conflict by providing clear, objective advice and encouraging cooperative approaches to resolving disputes.
  • Emotional Support: They offer a buffer between you and your spouse, helping to de-escalate emotional tensions that could otherwise slow down the process.

6. Experience with Complex Cases

  • Handling Complex Issues: For divorces involving significant assets, business interests, or complex child custody issues, an experienced attorney can navigate these complexities efficiently.
  • Expert Resources: They have access to a network of experts, such as financial analysts and child psychologists, who can provide critical input and expedite the resolution of complicated matters.

7. Avoiding Common Pitfalls

  • Preventing Mistakes: An attorney’s expertise helps avoid common mistakes that can delay the divorce process, such as incomplete documentation or missed deadlines.
  • Anticipating Issues: They can anticipate potential legal issues and address them proactively, ensuring a smoother process.

8. Streamlined Communication

  • Effective Communication: Attorneys ensure clear and effective communication with all parties involved, including your spouse’s attorney and the court, to keep the process moving forward.
  • Timely Updates: They provide timely updates on the status of your case, keeping you informed and prepared for each step in the process.

Their expertise can prevent unnecessary delays and help you make informed decisions that prioritize your best interests, leading to a smoother and quicker divorce process.

Get Help Filing for Divorce in Colorado 

The time it takes to get a divorce in Colorado can vary based on your situation and the approach you take. If you go the route of mediation or have an uncontested divorce, you might wrap things up sooner. On the other hand, if your divorce is litigated, it could stretch beyond a year. Regardless of your situation, you’ll still need to observe the mandatory 91-day waiting period. 

If you’re considering divorce and need some guidance, reach out for a consultation. Our team of experienced Colorado divorce lawyers and family law attorneys can help you understand your options and create a strategy that fits your needs. Schedule an appointment today to discuss your case in detail and take the first step toward a new chapter in your life.

Fill out our free case evaluation form or call us at 720-594-7360 to get started.

Free Case Evaluation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.