Frequently Asked Colorado Divorce Questions Part 2
- If we agree on everything, do we have to go to court?
If you do not agree to all issues in your divorce case you will have to go to court so that the judge can decide the outcome. However, if you do agree, you may be able to do everything by submitting paperwork, never having to set foot in the courthouse. If both parties agree to all issues and can get their paperwork in, including financial disclosures and written agreements, prior to the initial status conference, which generally occurs roughly 40 days from when the case is filed, they can submit all paperwork, along with what is called an Affidavit for Entry of Decree Without Appearance of the Parties. This document lets the court know that all issues are resolved and that the decree can be signed off on without anyone showing up. This situation applies in all cases in which there are two attorneys or in situations in which there is one, or no, attorney, but there are no kids. If there are children and at least on party has no lawyer, the parties will have to show up for a five-minute formality hearing in which a few minor questions will be asked, then decree will enter. Your attorney can explain all of this to you.
- What is the initial status conference in a divorce case?
Pursuant to Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 16.2, all divorce and custody cases require an initial status conference, which should be held within 40 days of the case being filed. This conference is generally held in front of the court facilitator (not a judge) or a magistrate or judge. The conference is essentially a meet-and-greet with the court for the parties to discuss the issues, whether related to kids, child support, property, or otherwise, so that the court can get an assessment of the issues and how to proceed. In the Denver area divorce courts, it is generally presumed that people will have their financial disclosures completed and their parenting class taken prior to the conference, though such is not always the case. Orders will generally not be dealt with at the initial conference, as it is not a hearing. However, in some jurisdictions, the magistrates might enter orders if they perceive an emergency situation. If there are two attorneys on your divorce or custody case, the parties can agree to get out of having to go to the initial conference via the filing of what is called a Stipulated Case Management Plan, which informs the court how the parties will proceed with the case. This can be an efficient alternative to the parties spending money on their attorneys to essentially say “hello” to the court. We can help you determine whether you need to attend this conference.
- What is the parenting class and do I have to take it?
Pursuant to Colorado Statute, each party in a divorce with kids or custody case is required to take a one-time parenting class. This class is generally 3 to 4 hours and costs roughly $60. The purpose of the class is to teach people the dos and don’ts of how to deal with the children in light of the high degree of conflict that can come with a divorce or custody case. Many of our clients find the class helpful, others do not. Regardless, it is required. In most cases, the court will not grant the divorce decree or final custody order until the class has been taken by both parties. When your divorce case is started, the court will issue what is called a Case Management Order, which will give instructions to the parties, including reference to the class and a list of classes you can choose from. The specific classes vary from county to county. Most classes are offered at fairly convenient times, recognizing that many people work.
- I live in Colorado and my wife lives in Texas. Can I file for divorce here?
The answer to this question is “yes.” However, other facts and circumstances may tie into what exactly a Colorado court can do as part of the divorce. Though a court here may be able to enter a final divorce decree, whether the court has jurisdiction over the other party as to property, child support, alimony, and custody depends on who lived where, and when. If the parties originally lived in Colorado as husband and wife and the wife left Colorado for Texas, Colorado would, in theory and pursuant to our “long arm statute”, have jurisdiction over the wife to decide property and support issues. If the husband left for Colorado, leaving his wife in Texas, then Colorado would not have jurisdiction to decide these issues. If the children were originally in Colorado, but had been gone for 6 months or more, Texas would be the proper jurisdiction for resolving the child custody issues. Aside from Colorado statutory provisions, what state has jurisdiction over a party in a divorce largely ties into the person’s contacts with that state and constitutional notions of jurisdiction related to those contacts. From a logical standpoint, without laws related to contact with a state, any party could go to the most favorable state for litigating his or her issue. This would make no sense. We can help answer your questions related to the interstate aspects of your divorce case.
- My husband and I have been separated for 5 years. Can I get child support back to when we separated?
Pursuant to the main Colorado child support statute, C.R.S. 14-10-115, a court only has jurisdiction over a party to a divorce from either the date of filing a case (if that person files) or the date of service, for the other party. People often ask our experienced child support attorneys whether they can seek child support back to separation. The answer is, “no.” This differs from paternity cases filed pursuant to C.R.S. Title 19, in which a person can presumably seek child support back to the date of birth of the child. The legal rationale for this aspect of a divorce case is that paternity is known, parties are separated, and if the recipient really wanted to do something about support, he or she would have filed the case sooner. If separated, but not yet ready to file for divorce or legal separation, a married person can also file a separate child support case.
Main Divorce FAQs