Divorce Frequently Asked Questions: Process



  1. How do I get my maiden name back?

    In Colorado, a woman is allowed to seek restoration of her maiden or prior name as part of the final steps in finishing up her divorce. The husband has no right to object to the name change or to object to the wife keeping her married name. The actual order granting the name change is set forth in the decree. Once the name change is granted, the wife must then take steps on her own to get her name changed with the DMV, Social Security, etc. Some entities may require a certified copy of the decree, which can be obtained for a not too hefty fee from the court.

  2. How long do I have to reside in Colorado to file for divorce?

    For a divorce to be filed in Colorado you must be a resident or “domiciled” in the state for at least 90 days. Technically, so long as either party has been a resident for 90 days, the case can be filed. The purpose behind the 90-day rule is to prevent what we attorneys call “forum shopping.” Most states have a minimum time period in which someone must reside in the state before seeking a divorce. Without such, people would simply look at the laws of various states to determine which state would be suit their needs in a divorce situation regarding the important issues, whether property division, alimony, custody, child support, or other divorce issues.

  3. We lived in Colorado for 5 years. A year ago my husband left the state to Virginia, while the children and I stayed here. Can I file for divorce here?

    Technically, a divorce can be filed wherever a person resides, assuming he or she meets the residency requirements in terms of time in the state. The real question is what jurisdiction does the Colorado court have over the other person who is not in the state? In this instance, Colorado would very clearly have jurisdiction over all divorce issues. Initially, the child issues would be dealt with in Colorado, as the children have been here for 6 months or more. All financial issues, including alimony, property division, and child support would also be Colorado issues. Fortunately, Colorado has what is called a “long arm statute.” Specifically, C.R.S. 13-1-124(e) indicates that the “maintenance of a matrimonial domicile with this state...” give rise to jurisdiction over out of state parties.

  4. My wife moved from Colorado to Washington three years ago and has filed for divorce there. Do I need a Colorado or Washington attorney?

    Unfortunately, the initial step in this instance will be to get a Washington attorney. Presuming the husband never lived in Washington, owns no real property in Washington, and is not served with papers in Washington, Washington should not be able to exercise personal jurisdiction over him based on his lack of minimal contacts with that state. In legal terms, Washington would not have in personam jurisdiction over him. The logical key to jurisdiction is whether there is any factual or legal nexus between the husband and the other state. A Colorado divorce lawyer not licensed in Washington would be of no help in terms of dealing with the jurisdictional issues there. The jurisdictional laws in Washington could differ from Colorado’s. Thus, the first step would be to get a Washington attorney to deal with the issue of getting the case dismissed or setting the terms for which substantive issues could be heard there. Assuming Washington law is similar to Colorado’s, no substantive issues would be heard, though the Washington court could, in theory, enter a divorce. The filing of the Washington case would not preclude the husband from filing a Colorado divorce case and having his wife served. If there are children, whichever state they had lived in for the previous 6 months would have jurisdiction over custody issues. Sometimes two states will have jurisdiction over differing issues a family may face.

  5. I don’t know how to find my husband. Can I still get divorced?

    In any divorce case, the general rule of thumb is that the other party must be served with the underlying petition and summons in order for the court to gain jurisdiction over him or her. This is applicable in Colorado custody cases as well. However, there are instances in which the other party may not be able to be located. People may separate and lose contact over the years, without a divorce case being filed. When contact is lost, it may become difficult, if not impossible, to find the other party for purposes of service. In such instances, statute allows for service by publication. This is specifically authorized pursuant to C.R.C.P. Rule 4(g). For a court to authorize service by publication, the requesting party must file a motion, which indicates that a good faith effort to have the other party served has been made, but has failed. If granted, notice of the divorce proceedings will be published for 5 weeks in a specific local newspaper. After this time period, the court can then make a ruling that service by publication has been effectuated. Though the court can then enter a decree of dissolution of the marriage, it may not enter specific financial orders against or affecting the other party until actual service has been completed. Though this can leave a party in limbo as to his or her finances, or other issues, that party can at least be divorced, thereby preventing future financial entanglements or issues.

  6. Do we have to file financial disclosures?

    Yes. Pursuant to C.R.C.P. 16.2, each party to a divorce case must provide a sworn financial statement and supporting documents. These disclosures set forth income, assets, debt, and expenses. Even if the parties agree on all issues, the court will require a sworn financial statement and certificate indicating exchanged financial documents to be filed. Though parties can agree on all issues, the court is still charged with the power to assess final settlements as to property, alimony, debt, and other issues. If a court is without financial disclosures, it cannot assess the fairness of a property or alimony settlement. In most instances, a court will not accept a final divorce agreement and allow decree to enter unless both parties have complied with the rules regarding financial disclosures. If one party is not participating or cooperating, the court may allow decree to enter, so long as one party has complied with the rules regarding disclosures.

  7. My wife didn’t disclose a stock account at the time of our divorce. What can I do?

    In a divorce case, each party has a duty to completely disclose all assets he or she may have. Without full disclosure, the parties, or the court, cannot fairly or equitably divide the property that comprises the marital estate. Despite this duty of full disclosure, there are people who attempt to hide assets or provide false values related thereto. Fortunately, C.R.C.P. Rule 16.2(e)(1) provides that the court retains jurisdiction for a period of 5 years after entry of final settlement or orders to reallocate, or allocate, assets (or debts) which were not disclosed or which were misstated in a party’s financial disclosures at the time of the divorce. In terms of any reallocation, the court must find that the misstatement or omission materially affects the division of property (or debt) entered at the time the divorce became final.

  8. What are the initial steps for filing divorce?

    The first step for filing divorce is the filing of the Petition and Summons. These are the initial documents filed. They must also be personally served upon the opposing party. This can be done through a process server, the sheriff in the jurisdiction in which the other party, Respondent, resides, or via any person over the age of 18. We generally suggest not using a family member or someone who will be a witness. The filing fee for a divorce in Colorado is generally $234, which must be paid at the time of filing.
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