How to File an Uncontested Divorce?
Couples in Colorado who part on amicable terms and want to avoid the delays and expense of a long, drawn-out divorce may commit to filing an uncontested divorce.
While this is likely to reduce the time, stress, and costs involved, it pays to know how uncontested divorces work, the general requirements and the steps you need to take to make your divorce legal.
No divorce can be granted in Colorado without court approval so you will need to navigate the legal processes first.
Besides, the emotional fallout that can result even in uncontested divorce cases should not be underestimated – especially if you have children together. These can create unexpected problems and complexities unless you are prepared for them.
What are the requirements for an uncontested divorce in Colorado?
In the case of an uncontested divorce (or a “decree upon affidavit” as it is known in Colorado) the court may grant a divorce after you submit an affidavit rather than you having to appear in court for a hearing.
This can make the process less stressful and time-consuming and more convenient for both partners.
However, Colorado has eligibility requirements for any couple considering an uncontested divorce in the state. These are as follows:
- You or your spouse must have lived in Colorado for more than 90 days, and
- You and your spouse agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and
- You and your spouse possess no marital property or you’ve signed a Separation Agreement that divides your property fairly, and
- You and your spouse have no minor children (and neither spouse is pregnant). If you have minor children, you and your spouse must have a signed Parenting Plan covering child custody, visitation and child support and you both need to be represented by attorneys.
How to file for an uncontested divorce in Colorado
In an uncontested divorce, it is possible to skip the final step that involves a court hearing – providing all your paperwork is in order.
So, the process for filing for an uncontested divorce is generally as follows:
1. Complete and submit divorce paperwork
To file for an uncontested divorce in Colorado, the first step is to submit an Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
This paperwork can be found at the district court of the county where either you or your spouse resides. It cannot be filed online – papers must be delivered in person to the court (unless one or both parties is represented by an attorney).
There are two options with this Petition:
- You and your spouse file together as “Co-Petitioners,” or
- You file the Petition as the “Petitioner” and your spouse is the “Respondent”
2. Serve your spouse
You can skip this step if you file for divorce as Co-Petitioners, as is common in uncontested divorce cases.
If you file the papers alone, you will need to deliver a copy of the Petition to your spouse and prove to the court that he or she has received it. This is called “serving” papers.
You can ask your county sheriff to serve your spouse. Alternatively, get a “waiver of service” form from the district court clerk’s office and ask your spouse to sign it.
3. Sign a Separation Agreement (and Parenting Plan)
A Separation Agreement is a critical element of an uncontested divorce.
This form identifies in writing the issues that you and your spouse have settled in your divorce. Both parties should agree that it accurately represents what they have agreed to.
Most notably, a Separation Agreement needs to address the following:
- Maintenance or alimony payments (spousal support)
- Marital property division
- Debt division
If there are minor children from the marriage, you will also need to file a Parenting Plan that will need to address child custody, visitation schedules, and child support – and a court hearing is more likely in such circumstances.
The court will scrutinize the Separation Agreement to ensure that it is reasonable and, if all is in good order, the provisions contained in the agreement will be followed and become legally binding. No court appearance will be necessary.
If the Separation Agreement is deemed to be unreasonable, you may be asked to submit a revised agreement.
If you have children, the court will review the Parenting Plan to determine if it is the best interest of your children. If one or both parties are not represented by an attorney and there are children involved in the case, the court will require you to appear at a hearing for a non-contested divorce. However, if both parties are represented by counsel, the Court can allow you do proceed on a “decree by affidavit” basis.
4. “Decree by Affidavit”
If you have a Separation Agreement and you have no children, or if you have children but have a Parenting Plan (and both parties are represented by counsel), you can proceed with a “decree by affidavit.” In this circumstance, you can file a document called an Affidavit for Decree without Appearance of Parties. This document sets forth that you meet the requirements for non-contested divorce and the Court can elect to grant your divorce upon review of your documents as opposed to making the parties appear in Court for a hearing.
Do you need help with an uncontested divorce in Colorado?
Although uncontested divorces are possible without attorneys, complexities often arise in divorces that start out as uncontested.
At the very least, a divorce attorney should review your separation agreement to make sure it meets court requirements.
Speak with a divorce attorney at Colorado Legal Group for advice about an uncontested divorce. Start with a free case evaluation by calling 720.594.7360.