Should I File a Response to a Petition for Divorce in Colorado?
If you are served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Summons for Dissolution of Marriage in Colorado, you are considered the Respondent. The Petition is the document your spouse has filed with the Court to initiate divorce proceedings.
The Petition lets the Court know the factual information regarding your marriage as well as your spouse’s requests for “relief,” such as the division of marital property and debts, spousal support, and court orders regarding any children of the marriage. You might not agree with everything in the Petition that has been filed by your spouse, and that’s okay. You have an opportunity to file a response for this very reason.
In Colorado, you are required to file a Response (JDF 1103) within 21 days of being personally served or from the date you sign a Waiver of Service. If your spouse has filed for divorce in Colorado and you live in another state, you have 35 days to file your Response. When you file a Response, you will have to pay the applicable court filing fee of $116.00.
Why should I file a Response?
The Response is your opportunity to agree or disagree with any of the information your spouse has put in the Petition. It also lets the Court know that you are going to be an active participant in your divorce case. This is important as once you have been served with the Petition and Summons, you have been put on effective notice of the Automatic Temporary Injunction that goes into effect upon the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
The Injunction is essentially a list of things that you cannot do during the divorce proceedings without the agreement of your spouse or permission from the Court. Actively participating in your divorce can help you to avoid inadvertently violating the Automatic Temporary Injunction.
What happens if I don’t file a Response?
If you choose not to file a Response, the Court may enter Orders against you compelling you to respond. Your spouse may also request the Court enter Default Orders. This means the Court and your spouse can decide how all of your marital assets and debts are divided, how much parenting time you receive, how much support you will have to pay (or receive), and more, all without your input. By not filing a Response, you are putting your future in your spouse’s hands.
What if we have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement?
Even if you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, if the Petitioner does not provide the Court with a copy (for instance, if it is unfavorable for the Petitioner), the Court would just enter the default orders that the Petitioner has requested because they have no knowledge of the agreement. If the Petitioner does provide the Court with the pre/postnup, then they could use that as a guide to splitting things up.
The good news?
The good news is that a Response in Colorado is not a difficult process (your spouse has already done most of the leg work by filing the Petition), and filing a Response does not lock you into agreeing to any final terms of your divorce.
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