Colorado Divorce Navigator: Step 1

Colorado Divorce Navigator – Step 1, Hello Divorce

Welcome to Step 1!

Wondering if you should file a joint petition, single petiton, or a response?  Have questions about how long divorce will take, deadlines, and serving? We know everything about divorce in Colorado. Read the FAQ.

Are you filing a JOINT PETITION?

If you and your spouse are filing for divorce together, you will file a Joint Petition. The court will refer to you as Co-Petitioners. (This is the easiest way to divorce in Colorado.) Start here to file for divorce.

Are you filing a SINGLE PETITION?

If you are filing for divorce on your own (your spouse isn’t filing jointly with you), you need to start a single Petition. The court will refer to your spouse as the Respondent. Start here to file for divorce.

Are you filing a RESPONSE?

If your spouse has already filed a single petition for divorce, you are the Respondent. You have 21 days to do this if your spouse resides in CO, or 35 days if your spouse resides out of state. 

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Step 1: Petition & Response

Step 1: Complete

2

Step 2: Financial Disclosures

Step 2: Complete

3

Step 3: Agreements & Decree

Step 3: Complete

4

Step 4: Divorce Wrap Up

General Divorce FAQ

About the divorce process

  • How should I file for divorce? Joint Petition or as the Petitioner?

    Filing divorce in Colorado can be done in one of two ways: jointly or separately. Filing jointly has some benefits, such as helping to save on costs and being able to waive personal service because there would be no “responding” spouse. Being that the mandatory 91-day waiting period starts when the spouse who didn’t initially filed is served, you also avoid any possible delays that can occur when trying to serve your spouse.

    Whenever possible, we recommend working together to make the process smoother and help it move along quickly, but we recognize that isn’t always possible. If you choose to file separately, that’s okay, too. The court won’t assign a value to whether you chose to file together or separately – so do what’s right for you.

  • How do I know if I am the Petitioner or Respondent?

    The Petitioner is simply the first spouse who files for divorce, and the Respondent is the spouse who responds to the initial filing. It does not matter who files first, and there’s no advantage or disadvantage to either position.

  • Does it matter who files for divorce first?

    Either spouse can file first. Divorce is a legal proceeding and every divorce begins with a Petition, a legal document filed with the court. You can start your Joint Petition here, or your separate Petition here.  If your spouse already filed a Petition, you can file a Response here.

  • How does being a military family affect my divorce?

    If you are filing for divorce in Colorado as a military member, all of your divorce forms will be the same as couples who are not members of the armed forces. In order to qualify to file for divorce in Colorado, however, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state of Colorado for at least 91 days.

    Note: Every state must abide by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act which dictates how to serve a member of the military who is overseas or actively deployed.

  • What if one spouse resides outside the US?

    If you or your spouse lives outside the U.S., we can process your divorce through the Divorce Plus, Divorce with Benefits, or Cooperative Divorce memberships. Please note:

    • The overseas spouse must be willing to cooperate and they must have a valid U.S. mailing address.
    • Additional service fees may apply.
    • If the international spouse’s country prevents us from providing complete service for your divorce, you’ll l only be charged for work that we perform and refunded the rest.
    • International divorce usually requires more processing time, potentially up to 18 months, due to mail- and court-processing delays.

About filing for divorce

  • What does filing a document mean?

    Filing a document means giving a copy to the court so the court can put it with all the other documents for the case, or the “file”. Most documents are now kept electronically, though you will still find there is a lot of paper documentation still in the court system.

    To start your divorce case, you have to “file” or give your documents to the court. You’ll also have to file more documents later before the judge finalizes your divorce. You may have to file documents throughout your case when different events happen, like your spouse responds to the divorce filing or you move and your address changes. All filed documents need to be formatted correctly or the court won’t accept them.

  • What's the difference between filing in person and e-filing?

    Filing in person means going to the court house and giving the court clerk the documents. E-filing is using the computer to give copies of the documents to the court. This is done either through a special interface on the court website, or in some cases, by email.

  • How do you file in person?

    Filing documents in person is done by taking the physical copies of the documents to the court house and giving them to the court clerk. Often you will stand in line with other people waiting to file documents, then on your turn you’ll meet the clerk at a counter or a window. Some places have a machine that you use to stamp your documents with the date and time before you can give them to the court clerk.

    When you file your documents in person they should be in good condition and legible. If possible, do not try to file crumpled, torn, or stained documents. If something happens and your document is not readable, then it is probably worth the effort to make a new copy of it. If the documents are not in good enough condition the court clerk may not accept them.

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  • How do you file electronically (e-file)?

    E-filing means that you will not be going to the court in person to file the documents, but giving them to the court in electronic form. Usually the court accepts PDF forms, but the judges at each court can make their own decisions about what formats to accept.

    Usually, the court website has instructions on how to e-file, and you might have to create an account before you can file this way. Once you have successfully e-filed your documents, you should see a confirmation page telling you that it worked.

    This site has court-approved e-filing service providers. Making an account with one of these providers here will allow you to e-file documents in your case. We recommend making sure that you are dealing with the website for the county that you are filing the case in. You don’t want to accidentally file your documents in a different county.

    NOTE: Not all counties in Colorado allow non-attorneys to e-file, but the link above will provide information on which counties currently allow it.

    Look at the electronic copies of the documents that you are trying to give to the court. Make sure you can read them. If they are scanned, make sure the scans are legible. If you can’t read the document, then neither can the court. So if you can’t read the document, make another copy that you can read.

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  • Are there any changes to filing because of Covid-19?

    Most courts started accepting e-filing during the pandemic. Some courts closed to filing in person entirely. If you aren’t sure if the court where you are getting divorced accepts e-filing, contact the court clerk and ask them.

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  • Where do I file my divorce paperwork?

    You can find out where you should file your paperwork here.

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  • What's a filing fee?

    A filing fee is a charge assessed and collected by the court when you start a divorce case. 

    In Colorado, the filing fee for a divorce case is $230.00 for the Petitioner (the person initiating the divorce) and $116.00 for the Response (the document the other party must file in response to the initial divorce paperwork). If you and your spouse file a Joint Petition, there is only one filing fee of $230.00. If you can’t afford the fee, click here to learn whether or not the fee can be waived.

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  • What if I can't afford the filing fee?

    If you can’t afford the fee, click here to learn whether or not the fee can be waived.

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  • What is the case number?

    Your case number is a unique number assigned to your divorce case by the court. In Colorado, all divorce cases are formatted with the year, the letters DR (this stands for Domestic Relations) and a 1-6 digit number. For example: 2021-DR-1234. Case numbers are county specific, so a divorce case in El Paso County could have the same case number as one in Denver County.

    Once your divorce paperwork has been filed, your case number can be found on any in the caption (the big box) on the first page of each document.

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  • Will the court contact me directly about the case?

    Yes! From time to time the court may communicate with you directly via mail or email. It is important that you continue to regularly monitor your mail and email during the pendency of your case, and promptly review any orders or documents the court sends you as these documents may contain important court deadlines.

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  • How can I find out the status of my case with the court?

    Currently, Colorado courts do not release case information to third parties (which Hello Divorce is). To find the status of your case, you may call or email a clerk in the district court in the county your divorce Petition was filed. Court contact information can be found on the court’s website.

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About using the Divorce Navigator

  • How and when do I file my forms?

    Each step includes directions for filing and serving documents. If you are a DIY Pro + member, we handle that for you.

  • How do I know what step I'm on?

    To find out which step you are on in our Divorce Navigator, DIY Members should review the My Forms page on our website. All other membership levels should consult with their legal assistant.

  • I'm totally lost. How can I find my way to the page I was on?

    We hear you! Each page of the navigator has a Steps Bar that you can click on to get to each Step 1-4 of the process. But if you’re looking for the content after you’ve completed each step, or you are DIY and need help with how to file your forms, here’s a list of links to all the steps:

    Step 1 – Home
    Step 1 – Complete (Joint Petitioner & Respondents)
    Step 1 – Complete (Single Petitioner)
    Step 1 – DIY Instructions

    Step 2 – Home
    Step 2 – Complete
    Step 2 – DIY Instructions

    Step 3 – Home
    Step 3 – Complete
    Step 3 – DIY Instructions

  • How can I keep track of where I am in the process?

    Sometimes it’s easier to see all of your divorce requirements in one place. If that’s you, download this checklist to mark your progress as you go.

  • I left my questionnaire before I was finished, and now it looks like it’s blank. What can I do?

    If you come back to a questionnaire you’ve only partially completed, the entire form fields may look like they are blank. However, any page you filled out and then hit ‘Save & Continue’ is still in your account. Click My Forms, then go to the questionnaire you were working on from the list, and you can start from where you left off.

  • I’ve completed all my paperwork, but my spouse refuses to participate in the divorce. What should I do?

    We highly recommend scheduling a legal coaching session to discuss your options.

  • When will my divorce be final?

    The earliest date your divorce can be finalized is after the 91-day waiting period has passed. If you have minor children, or you and your spouse don’t agree to all terms of your divorce, you may need to attend a court hearing which may occur after the 91 days. You’ll learn more about this in Step 3.

About the court

  • Who is the court clerk and what do they do?

    The court clerk is in charge of making the court work, and they handle all the scheduling and paperwork for the court. They usually aren’t lawyers, but they are experts in what correctly filed court documents need to look like, and they are also responsible for accepting and rejecting filed documents. You’ll speak to the court clerk when you contact the court.

    Througout your divorce, the court clerk will look at all the documents that are filed and make sure they are formatted the right way. That doesn’t mean that they’ll fix your mistakes, but they will tell you if you made a mistake. If your documents aren’t correct, the court clerk won’t accept them.

    The court clerk also keeps track of when hearings will be, and lets divorcing parties know when they should appear at those hearings (usually by email).

  • Do you have advice on dealing with the court clerk?

    We recommend being polite and understanding with the court clerk. They’re usually extremely busy, but they are also in charge of accepting (or rejecting) your documents, which is a vital step in getting your divorce. Remember, the court clerk isn’t your lawyer or represent you, so they can’t give you legal advice about your case. Sometimes, they might let you know where your mistakes are in your documents, but it’s not their responsibility. And they can’t tell you how to fix the mistake since that would be giving legal advice, which they aren’t allowed to do.

    You may feel frustrated if the court clerk rejects your documents because of a mistake, but we advise staying calm, since your divorce case will be much easier and faster if the court clerk is not frustrated with you. A good strategy is asking them why the documents are being rejected and writing down their answers so you can later fix the documents and try filing again later.

  • Who is the Family Court Facilitator?

    Some larger counties have a Family Court Facilitator as well as a court clerk. If you have a Family Court Facilitator, they will handle the hearing scheduling instead of the court clerk and you may have to communicate with them about the schedule in your case. To find out if your county court has a Family Court Facilitator, you can call the court and ask or do an internet search.

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After you file for divorce

  • Is there a waiting period before my divorce is final?

    In Colorado, a court cannot grant a divorce until the Petition for divorce has been pending for at least 91 days. This time period begins to run on the date the Petition is filed with the court. This “waiting period” serves many purposes. Sometimes it lets the spouses “cool down” and possibly reconcile. Usually, though, the 91 days is meant to allow the spouses time to reach an agreement on the specifics of their pending divorce.

  • All of my divorce paperwork has been filed. When will I get my divorce decree?

    If all of your divorce paperwork has been filed, when you get your divorce decree depends on a few factors:

    • Whether the mandatory statutory waiting period has elapsed (the earliest date the court will sign a decree is 91 days after a Joint Petition was filed or the Respondent was served);
    • Your judge’s caseload;
    • Whether a hearing will be scheduled.
  • The court ordered me to schedule mediation. Do I have to schedule it?

    Yes. If the court has ordered you to schedule mediation, then you have to do what the court orders. You can learn more about mediation here.

    We’re also happy to provide you with referrals to preferred mediators in your area.

  • We have a court date scheduled, but we’ve submitted all of our paperwork. Do we still need to attend court?

    Yes! Unless you receive an order from the court vacating (canceling or rescheduling) your hearing, you need to attend.

  • I completed Step 1 through Step 3, so why is the court asking me for additional forms?

    The Colorado courts have developed a standard set of forms that are required to complete your divorce. These forms are in Steps 1 – 3 in our Divorce Navigator. Each county and each judge, however, has the discretion to request additional forms at any time. 

    DIY and DIY Pro Members – check our list of forms to find the form the court has requested. Divorce Plus and Divorce with Benefits Members – your legal assistant will assist you with completing additionally requested forms.

  • The court scheduled an Initial Status Conference for my case. How do I prepare for this?

    The Initial Status Conference is your initial meeting with the Court. You can learn more about it here.

Schedule your free 15-minute intro callCLICK HERE
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