This page and the information contained in it are merely a glimpse into some of the factors and considerations involved in a divorce case. If you really want to understand the law and how it relates your particular case, an experienced attorney must evaluate your individual case and apply the law to your facts. The below information is no substitute for an attorney and should be read in light of the fact that there is much more in the law regarding divorces than could possibly be described here. If you are considering hiring an attorney for your case, please contact us.
The technical term for a divorce in Colorado is a "Dissolution of Marriage." Those who have gone through it understand that it can be the most difficult time of one's life. Our goal at the Law Firm of James French is to ease the stress of a divorce as much as possible, while advocating strongly for our client.
In a divorce, the court has to do certain things. For instance, if there are children involved, the court has to decide how parenting time and decision-making will be allocated. The court also has to divide all property and debt that accumulated during the marriage - regardless of whose name is on an asset or a debt. The court will also decide whether each party has waived maintenance (commonly referred to as "alimony") or if requested, whether maintenance should be awarded. The wife may also restore her prior name - the husband has no say in whether she does or does not. A divorce can be granted if at least one party states that the marriage is "irretrievably broken" - even if the other party disagrees.
A divorce is initiated by the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, among other documents. The parties can either co-petition, meaning they each sign the petition requesting the divorce, or one party can initiate the case. The main difference between only one party filing and both filing is that when only one party files, the case documents will have to be served on the other party (unless the other party will voluntarily sign a "Waiver of Service"). A court cannot grant a divorce until at least the 92nd day after service or the filing of a co-petition.
Once filed, the court issues a Case Management Order. This is essentially an instruction manual on the procedure of the case and therefore, should be read carefully. Soon thereafter, the court will hold a conference with the parties to assess the issues in the case and in an attempt to create a rough timeline, often by establishing deadlines for certain tasks. One of the deadlines will likely be a deadline for each party to exchange information related to their financial circumstances. Mediation is typically ordered if the case seems like the parties will not be able to agree on the issues. If the case does resolve by settlement, the parties may sometimes be relieved of appearing in front of a judge. However, if all issues cannot be resolved, a court appearance will be required. This final hearing is referred to as a "permanent orders hearing." At the permanent orders hearing, each party is given the opportunity to present evidence to the judge and to tell the judge precisely what they want. The judge's final orders are called "permanent orders."