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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 or if there’s a high discrepancy in earnings. 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 a 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:

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 these agreements are one-sided, especially in the case of income difference, get a denver high asset divorce lawyer to fight your case for you.

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.

Risks of Filing Uncontested Divorce without an Attorney

Navigating an uncontested divorce on your own can have several risks, including:

  1. Legal Pitfalls: Family law can be complex, and without proper legal guidance, you might overlook crucial legal requirements, rights, or deadlines. In the event this divorce goes from uncontested to contested (which we see often), this could result in an unfair settlement or complications in the future.
  2. Incomplete or Incorrect Paperwork: Filing for divorce involves a lot of paperwork, including forms, financial disclosures, and agreements. Errors or omissions in these documents can lead to delays or even the rejection of your case by the court.
  3. Unfair Settlements: Without legal representation, you may not fully understand your rights or what constitutes a fair settlement. This could result in you agreeing to terms that are not in your best interest, such as inadequate child support or spousal support.
  4. Emotional Stress: Divorce is already a highly emotional process, and navigating it without support can be overwhelming. Having an attorney can provide not only legal expertise but also emotional support during this challenging time.
  5. Future Disputes: A poorly drafted divorce agreement may lead to disputes in the future, especially regarding issues such as child custody, visitation, or financial support. These disputes could necessitate costly legal proceedings to resolve.
  6. Lack of Mediation or Negotiation Skills: Negotiating with your spouse to reach a settlement requires effective communication and negotiation skills. Without legal representation, you may struggle to advocate for your needs effectively.
  7. Hidden Assets or Debts: If you’re not familiar with the financial aspects of your marriage, you may overlook assets or debts that should be accounted for in the divorce settlement. Dividing assets in divorce is the largest aspect of this process, and there are instances we see time and time again where spouses hide assets and finances or exaggerate debts and bills. It’s important to work with Colorado attorneys who will fight to protect your best interests.
  8. Unforeseen Legal Issues: Even in an uncontested divorce, unexpected legal issues can arise, such as disagreements over property division or changes in circumstances that require modifications to custody or support agreements. Having legal representation can help you navigate these challenges.

We’ve seen instances where uncontested divorce between couples plays out well for both parties with minimal intervention. However, we far more often find couples in litigated divorce situations that are more contested than they initially believed. Gaslighting, domestic violence, the significant other relocating, hiding assets, getting lost in the legalities, being on the brink of losing child custody battles, and desperately needing to switch attorneys are common issues we come across when people come to Colorado Legal Group for expert help.

Money is something you can always get back. Don’t let a 1-year divorce hearing affect the next 10 years of your life or more.

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.

Request a free case evaluation or call us at 720-594-7360 to get started.

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