Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, especially when a couple has children. Deciding to end a marriage is stressful; the emotional and mental toll can be hard to deal with, even for the spouse who initiated the divorce. Families of both partners are affected, especially in marriages lasting a decade, 20 years, or even longer. How long does a divorce take in Colorado? While a divorce may be finalized quickly in some cases, others may take longer depending on several factors. Those with questions may want to consider contacting a Colorado divorce attorney at Johnson Law Group at (720) 463-4333 or text (720) 730-4558 to ensure their questions are answered.
How Quickly Can a Divorce Be Finalized?
According to the State of Colorado, the minimum time it takes to get a divorce in Colorado is 90 days. When both spouses sign the Petition and it is filed as "Petitioner and Co-Petitioner," the 90-day waiting period starts the day documents are filed with the court. If one spouse serves the other with a copy of a Petition for Dissolution or Legal Separation that has been filed with the court, the 90 days begins the day the Petition is served. There are several circumstances that may impact how long it takes for a divorce to be finalized, including court schedules.
If either spouse claims the marriage is not irreparable or contests the divorce, the case may continue in the court for an additional 60 days. In some circumstances involving substantial assets, serious child custody issues, or other factors it can take as long as a few years for the divorce to become final.
Factors Impacting How Long a Divorce Takes
There are several factors that can impact how long it takes for a divorce to become final. Some of these include:
- Whether spouses are amicable. When both spouses agree the marriage should come to an end, it is usually easier to divide property and assets so the process is finalized quickly. If there is contention between spouses, the process will take longer.
- Marriage length. When a couple has been married for a long period of time, they may have a greater amount of shared assets. Dividing these assets may require more time.
- Sharing minor children. Child custody and support issues often arise during a divorce; settling disputes regarding minor children will delay the divorce process.
- Alimony disputes. Also referred to as spousal maintenance, alimony disputes will prolong finalization of a divorce. Spousal support ensures that during or following a divorce, the lower-earning spouse will not be destitute.
- Division of assets and debts. Dividing assets can be more difficult and time consuming in high-net-worth marriages, particularly when no pre- or post-nuptial agreement exists. Spouses may argue on the division of debts as well, which prolongs the divorce proceedings.
- Colorado residency. Either spouse must reside in the state for a minimum of 90 days before filing for divorce.
A Colorado divorce attorney at Johnson Law Group is available for those who have questions or need legal guidance.
Understanding the Divorce Process in Colorado
The divorce process is much quicker when there are no minor children involved and a couple has been married only a short time, accumulating little or no debt. Every divorce is different, and some require additional time to be finalized. Divorce can be amicable or acrimonious, however there are some general steps in the divorce process that include:
- Filing a divorce Petition (Colorado Judicial Branch)
- Spouses file a joint petition when they agree on the terms; divorce may be finalized in 91 days.
- One spouse files and serves Petition on the other spouse. In this case, the spouse who is served must file a written response within 21 days.
- Spouses and their attorneys must then attend a first status conference with the court within 42 days. The court will establish critical dates and work through all the issues. During this 42-day period spouses will exchange financial information; when deemed necessary, the court may hold additional conferences.
- Discovery - the exchange of information and interrogatories, depositions, and other evidence - will be completed within a time frame established by the court.
- A divorce petition may be granted by the court within 90 days of filing when the court determines that irreconcilable differences exist.
There may also be temporary orders hearings held to determine custody and visitation routine during the divorce process, or to provide financial support to a spouse.
Circumstances That May Delay Divorce
Most couples understandably want a divorce to be over with as quickly as possible. There are situations in which one or both spouses may be angry or uncooperative. Some of the circumstances that could delay the finalization of a divorce include:
- Uncooperative or antagonistic attitude of either spouse. Divorces move along quickly when spouses are amicable and agree on the terms. When either spouse contests the divorce or is uncooperative, overly emotional, or antagonistic, it can delay the process. Mediation often helps spouses come to agreement so that the divorce can proceed forward.
- Changing legal separation to divorce. The divorce process can be affected when a couple is legally separated. In Colorado, divorce and legal separation are very similar although the couple is technically married. When either or both spouses wish to dissolve their marriage, they must wait six months from the legal separation date for it to be converted to divorce.
- Disputed issues such as parenting time, alimony (spousal support), child custody, shared assets, and marital property can take substantial time to resolve; this is especially true when the marriage survived for many years.
Consider Scheduling a Consultation Today
A divorce may become final in 90 days when uncontested; in contested divorces or when spouses do not agree on the issues, it can take much longer. “How long does a divorce take in Colorado?” is a question we have heard many times. Most couples have no desire to stretch out the divorce process for nine months, a year, or even several years. Those needing more information are invited to reach out to Johnson Law Group at (720) 463-4333 or text (720) 730-4558.