How to File for a Divorce in Colorado
By Beverly Bird
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Divorcing in Colorado is a relatively straightforward process. The rules are clear-cut and the courts are helpful in guiding you along the way. In most cases, only three documents are necessary for you to begin the process. You must have lived in the state for three months to be able to file in Colorado, and you have no options for fault grounds. This is a no-fault state and the court will only grant you a divorce because your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
Collect the forms you need to initiate a divorce proceeding. These are available for download on the Colorado Judicial Branch website. Generally, you need a petition, a case information sheet and a summons. Colorado offers two petitions for dissolution of marriage: one if you have children and one if you do not.
Complete your petition. You can do this online in PDF format, or print out a blank form and fill in the information using a typewriter or by hand. Enter your contact information at the top, then check the box indicating that you want a dissolution of marriage, not a legal separation. Fill in the remaining information the form asks for, and at paragraph 19, check the appropriate boxes to tell the court what orders you want entered as part of your decree, such as for property division, spousal support or custody.
Copy the information from the top of your petition onto the top of the summons form, as well as the case information sheet. The rest of the case information sheet only asks for identifying information about you, your spouse and your children. It also tells the court if an attorney will be representing either you or your spouse. You don’t have to fill in anything else on the summons at this point.
Take your three documents to the courthouse for filing, in the county where your spouse lives. If he’s not a resident of Colorado, use the county where you live. The clerk will stamp your paperwork as filed, sign and date your summons form and give a copy of all the documents back to you.
Serve your spouse with a copy of all the filed documents. You can give them to him yourself and have him sign the second page of your summons, indicating that he received them. You can also ask another adult to give them to him, or a private process server or the county sheriff. If you choose this option, this person must also complete and sign a section on the second page of your summons.
File your summons with the court after you’ve made service. Colorado has a three-month waiting period for divorce. This period doesn’t begin until your spouse receives the documents and you file your completed summons with the court to prove it.
Some divorces require the filing of additional documents, usually after your divorce is under way. If yours is one of them, the court clerk will tell you at the time you file your initial paperwork.
If you and your spouse are in agreement that you want a divorce, Colorado allows you to file a joint petition. Check the appropriate boxes to indicate that this is the case, and have your spouse sign it with you in the presence of the court clerk or a notary. Consult an experienced attorney if you have any questions.
- Lawyers.com: Divorce in Colorado (CO)
- Divorce HQ: Ten Golden Rules for Completing Colorado Divorce and Family Law Forms
- Colorado State Judicial Branch: Dissolution – Legal Separation – With Children Forms
- Colorado State Judicial Branch: Instructions to File Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation With Children of This Marriage (PDF)
- Divorce Source: Grounds for Divorce in Colorado
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.