The Ultimate Colorado Divorce Checklist
- Why a divorce checklist is helpful
- Personal information
- Marital property
- Legal documents and forms
- Special considerations
As soon as you've decided to divorce in Colorado, it’s important to immediately begin to get your affairs in order. This can help make the divorce process less overwhelming.
Prior to filing for divorce, you should understand how divorce works in Colorado. Collect all financial paperwork necessary, discuss custody agreements if applicable, and consider what type of divorce would best fit your needs.
What things should you consider when preparing for divorce?
There are a seemingly overwhelming number of things to consider when preparing to divorce your spouse. It becomes more manageable if you take it one issue at a time. Here are some things to discuss with your spouse, if you can.
Which type of divorce would best help you get your needs met? Do you and your partner agree on most issues? (That is, is this an uncontested divorce?) Or, are there disagreements between you that require legal intervention, i.e., is this a contested divorce?
Remember that an uncontested divorce is preferable, as it is faster and less expensive than a contested divorce.
Do you need help coming to an agreement with your spouse on one or more issues? Even if you disagree on some issues, working with a mediator may allow you to take advantage of the benefits of uncontested divorce.
A mediator is a neutral party who facilitates discussion between you and your spouse to guide you to resolutions that serve both of you. Mediation is an inexpensive option compared to litigation. It is an efficient process as long as both spouses are committed to working toward an agreement.
Can you and your spouse get along well enough to work through the process as a team? Colorado law does not mandate that you retain an attorney when filing for divorce. Many couples elect to represent themselves, especially when making uncontested agreements about issues like property division, child custody, and support payments.
If there are disagreements – which is absolutely normal – rather than filing for a contested divorce with high attorney fees, you and your spouse can save time and money by working with a mediator instead.
Asset and debt allocation
Do you and your spouse agree that fair distribution of property may not be equal? Colorado follows the principle of equitable distribution, emphasizing fairness over strict equality when it comes to property division.
For example, if there is a large amount of debt to be paid off from the marriage, it may not be split 50/50 between the spouses. Instead, the person with the larger income may be responsible for paying off a larger percentage of the debt.
Even student loans taken out during marriage for one spouse’s education are considered marital debt.
Child custody and financial support
Do you have children from the marriage? Parties with children must establish custody arrangements and determine if child support is needed and, if so, in what amount.
Do you have all the documents you need to prove your assertions in court paperwork? It can be helpful to start the process of tracking down certified copies of the documents you’ll need for the purposes of filing. Examples include your verified marriage certificate, tax returns, and financial records.
Why is a Colorado divorce checklist so important to have?
A Colorado divorce checklist can help to relieve the stress of the unknown. Having your to-dos in list form can quell the sense of overwhelm often felt by those who are going through a difficult time.
With a checklist, you can save both time and money while protecting your rights, confident that you have a guide to help you navigate the system.
Personal information needed for divorce
The personal information you must provide to file for divorce in Colorado depends on your circumstances. In most cases, you will need the following:
- Your legal name, date of birth, and Social Security number with documents to prove these
- The same identification information for your spouse
- The dates of your marriage and your official separation
- The names and ages of all children born to or adopted by the couple
- Your and your spouse’s current address and phone number
- All financial information relevant to the marriage (such as tax returns, bank statements, investment statements, and loan documents)
- Your and your spouse's financial information (such as pay stubs, personal bank account statements, 1099s or W-2s, and documentation of side income sources)
If any of this information changes, especially someone’s address and phone number, don’t forget to update it with the court.
Marital property and divorce in Colorado
The term marital property refers to all the assets and debts either spouse brought into the marriage. In some cases, it may include premarital assets as well, if those assets were commingled during marriage.
It’s important to make sure that everything (including things like jewelry or expensive cameras) is listed for the purpose of dividing it equitably. However, some exceptions that will be left off that list include the following:
- Property acquired through inheritance or gift
- Some property that was acquired before the marriage
- Property acquired after legal separation or divorce filing
- Property that was designated as separate property in a prenuptial agreement
Courts take various factors into consideration when dividing marital property during a divorce, such as these:
- Length of the marriage
- Income and earning capacity of each spouse
- Age and health of each spouse
- Needs of any children
- Contributions of each spouse to the marriage, including homemaking and child-rearing
- Value of each spouse's separate property
The court does not need to divide marital property equally, but they do try to make sure that the split is fair. The goal is that neither spouse has an undue burden or walks away with more than their fair share.
What legal documents and forms will you need for divorce in Colorado?
Documents required for a divorce in Colorado will depend on your specific case, but in general, you will likely need to file the following:
- Petition for Divorce (JDF 1101)
- Summons for Dissolution of Marriage (JDF 1102)
- Case Information Sheet (JDF 1000)
- Sworn Financial Statement (JDF 1111 SC)
- Checklist of Mandatory Financial Disclosures (JDF 1104)
- Decree of Dissolution of Marriage (JDF 1116)
- Property and Financial Agreement (Separation Agreement) (JDF 1115)
- Affidavit for Decree without Appearance of Parties (JDF 1201)
- Notice of Hearing (if applicable) (JDF 716 SC)
What documents and forms will you need if children are involved?
When children are involved in a divorce in Colorado, additional documents and forms will be necessary to address child custody, visitation, child support, and any other relevant parenting arrangements. Some of the forms and documents you will need include the following:
- Parenting plan
- Income assignment order
- Medical support order
- Child support Worksheets
- Child Support order (if applicable)
- Affidavit regarding children
The importance of getting your finances in order
Divorce is expensive, not just due to the cost of filing the legal action but because the parties are no longer part of a dual-income household. Moving, buying new things to furnish a new home or apartment, and paying for childcare can add up quickly. The sooner you create a budget and begin to get your finances in order, the sooner you will feel comfortable in your new situation.
Some of the documents you will need to help you in this process include the following:
- A budget for you and your spouse that includes who will pay for different costs for the kids as well as living expenses can help you set goals.
- Your tax returns provide crucial details about your income, deductions, and credits. This can help you determine what will change going forward in terms of expected tax responsibilities and tax refunds.
- Bank statements provide you with an overview of your income and expenses over time, which can help you cut unnecessary spending.
- Investment statements give you an accurate view of how much savings you have to rely on in an emergency and what you will need to save for retirement.
- Property ownership records will be needed to help you sell off property to pay off debt and fund your new life.
- Debt information (such as credit card statements, personal loan statements, car loan statements, and school loan statements) can help you determine what your monthly bills will look like as well as any lump sum payouts needed to settle accounts.
- Life insurance and disability insurance policies will need to be updated to make sure that you and your children are fully covered.
Read: How to Create a Post-Divorce Budget
Start the process of setting up your separate life
Separating your lives, especially when children are involved, can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. Here are some suggestions to help you make the transition as smooth as possible:
Prioritize open and calm communication
Engage in an honest conversation with your spouse about your income, your goals for your career, and where you intend to live, especially if children are involved there is a large amount of property to divide. Try to keep as much emotion as possible out of your financial discussions and focus on getting everyone’s needs met.
Begin financial separation
Open your own bank and credit card accounts. Close joint accounts to gain financial independence and prevent potential disputes over money.
Improve your financial situation
If you are unemployed or underemployed, take action to improve your situation. Money may be tight initially, but it will improve more quickly and you’ll feel more confident if you are proactive.
Determine child custody and visitation
Begin discussing custody arrangements and visitation schedules immediately. Forming a parenting plan provides stability for your children as they transition into this new arrangement.
Clarify child support and expenses
Ironing out financial obligations related to your kids will ensure that their needs are met during the divorce and beyond. Discuss child support responsibilities as well as shared expenses such as school, extracurricular activities, and healthcare costs.
Special considerations before divorce
No two situations are alike when it comes to divorce. Some life situations take on an extra layer of complexity. Here are a few of those situations.
If either or both spouses are in the military, you will need to consider the following:
- Impact of divorce on security clearance, if you are the enlisted member
- Impact of deployments on child custody and visitation plans
- Impact of the divorce on your healthcare, if you are not the enlisted member
- Military rules for the division of pension based on the length of the marriage, if applicable
Business owners must consider several factors when going through a divorce, such as these:
- The impact of divorce on day-to-day business operations, if both spouses are involved in the business
- Assessment of value if one spouse is going to be bought out by the other
- The financial strain of buyouts or transition of management on employees and sales
- The ability to manage the responsibilities of managing the business through the emotional strain of divorce
Though Colorado views same-sex divorce in the same light as heterosexual divorce, there can be some complications if only one parent legally adopted a child who is shared by both partners in the marriage.
Special needs children
All children require special consideration during a divorce, but if one or more of your children have special needs, it can heavily impact a number of issues in the divorce, including these:
- Cost of necessary therapies and medical care
- How often a transition between houses will be appropriate if it negatively impacts the child’s schedule or ability to thrive
- Whether both parents need to agree before one parent makes any changes to medical, educational, or therapeutic plans
- How to minimize the disruption to the child’s life and schedule during the divorce process and around transitions, especially if the child will be moving into a new home
Suggested: How to Divorce Your Spouse in Colorado
ReferencesHow to File for Divorce or Legal Separation. Colorado Judicial Branch.
How To File For Divorce In Colorado (2023 Guide). (July 10, 2023). Forbes.
Divorce Forms. Colorado Judicial Branch.
Calculating Payments. Colorado Department of Human Services.
Divorce FAQs. Colorado Judicial Branch.
Divorce. Colorado Judicial Branch.
Divorce Detailed Instructions. Colorado Judicial Branch.