Image of Couple getting divorced

Filing For Divorce in Colorado

by Cory Gallagher, Family Law Attorney

7 Steps To Filing A Divorce In Denver

Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. There is no fault assigned to any spouse during divorce proceedings. The court does not consider any behavior when handling divorce proceedings.

The difference between divorce and legal separation is that at the end of the legal separation process, the couple is still married. Both legal methods are alike in that the court determines how to deal with the same legal issues.

With separation, neither is free to remarry unless the spouses ask the court to convert the legal separation into a divorce.

The 7 steps for filing for divorce in Colorado will help you get an in-depth understanding of the divorce process.

This page does not cover every possible detail since you and your situation are unique but it is a very helpful guide that can clear up some confusion for now.

If you have questions call Cory at (720) 295-4434

The State of Colorado refers to divorce as a "dissolution of marriage", and is a purely no-fault divorce state, meaning the court will not assign fault to either party for the divorce.


Step #1. Talk with your spouse and family.

Before you file for divorce, talk with your spouse and an important family member, spiritual leader, or mentor. It’s a big life decision. If you feel like it may be the right thing for you, make an appointment and call to talk with a divorce attorney Cory Gallagher at (720) 295-4434.

Step #2. Hire a divorce focused attorney.

When you need a Denver divorce attorney, your first instinct may be to simply ask your family, friends and colleagues if they know a good divorce lawyer.

While word of mouth isn't the worst strategy, this approach skips the most important factor in finding the best lawyer: you.

Finding the right divorce lawyer takes significantly more effort than merely asking around.

To ensure the best relationship and outcome, more upfront effort is required. Before signing any retainer agreement, first assess the specific nature of your matter, then honestly reflect on your own personality and finally, compare your expectations regarding how the attorney-client relationship works to your potential counsel's.

First, every client must be sure their divorce attorney has the specific skills needed to handle their case.

A criminal lawyer would not be the best choice for helping you create a valid will or trust. Likewise, a lawyer who spends most days handling divorce is not likely to catch every nuance and desired clause when you need a business contract drafted.

Simply having a law degree and passing the bar exam doesn't make an attorney automatically qualified to practice in any area of law that crosses their desk.

Make sure the lawyer you hire has several years of experience, and not just "practicing law" but practicing the kind of law you need them to know in order to serve you well.

A lawyer who focuses in divorce is typically a Family Law Attorney.

A second factor lacking the necessary emphasis, or simply ignored altogether, is whether or not your personality will match enough with the attorney's.

 Does that mean you need a soul-mate? Of course not.

What it does mean is that if you are an extremely relaxed individual, who loves to get to know everyone on a more personal level or perhaps cracks a joke every few sentences, you probably aren't going to feel very in sync with an attorney who can barely crack a smile during an entire meeting.

However, if excessive conversation or the occasional wisecrack makes you uncomfortable or feel like you are not being taken seriously, you may be considerably happier with counsel who gets down to business immediately and doesn't engage in extraneous conversation.

Finally, know what you expect from an attorney before blindly hiring one on word of mouth alone.

It sounds similar to the personality factor, but they are very different. For example, if you are the kind of person who expects to be kept informed on every development and exchange involved in your case, hiring a lawyer who is horrible at returning phone calls and emails will only bring you misery, fear and resentment.

On the other hand, if you expect to provide your attorney with the information they need to do their job and don't want to be bothered any further until the meaningful results are in, you probably don't want counsel who sends updates or asks questions every time the smallest event occurs. It's a very personal choice, but one that is best made before entering a contractual relationship.

Finding the right attorney for your legal needs doesn't have to be like a trek up Mount Everest on a heavy snow day. However, putting in the time to meet several lawyers with established track records working in your specific legal area will pay off in the end. More overlooked, but just as important, is paying enough attention to whether you and your new counsel are compatible in ways that will greatly determine the overall experience for both of you.

This is one of the most important events in your life. Take some time to meet with Cory Gallagher for a consultation. During this consultation, ask any questions you might have about the divorce process in Colorado. Make sure you feel comfortable and well educated about the process, and that you have found the right attorney for you. You can learn more about Cory Gallagher on his bio page.

Colorado flag

Step #3. Must be a resident for 91 days.

In order to obtain a divorce in Colorado, you must be a resident for at least 91 days prior to filing. Colorado is purely a "no-fault” state. The term "no-fault" means you and your spouse are no longer compatible, and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

You must file in the county where you or your spouse reside.

If there are children involved they must reside in Colorado for a minimum of 182 consecutive days prior to the filing date, or since birth if they are under six months of age. Visit our child custody page to learn more about parental responsibilities.

Step #4. Complete the appropriate forms and pay the required fee(s).

You will need to complete the appropriate forms and pay the filing fee. These forms include a Case Information Sheet, Petition For Dissolution of Marriage, and a Summons For Dissolution of Marriage (unless you and your spouse are filing together). You may need to file additional documents depending on your circumstances. If you have children you will also need to complete a Parenting Plan.

Step #5. File a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

In most cases, the parties to a divorce action are called the “petitioner” (the spouse that files for divorce) and the “respondent” (the non-filing spouse who may file an answer to the petition). The exception is when both parties file together, then they are the "petitioner" and "co-petitioner."

The petitioner or respondent in an action for divorce must have been an actual resident of Colorado for 90 days immediately preceding the filing of the petition. The divorce may be filed in the county of residence of either party.

Notify your spouse. The other party must be served with the court filings. Once the respondent has been served, he or she may then file a response with the court. The response must be filed within 21 days from the time the petition was served on the respondent.

Negotiating Settlement Agreement.

Step #6. Negotiating a Settlement Agreement.

The court will schedule an initial status conference (ISC) within 42 days from filing. Prior to the ISC, each party must complete a Sworn Financial Statement, providing a detailed accounting of financial and property information. If there are children from the marriage, or either party is requesting maintenance (formerly known as alimony), additional documentation will also be necessary.

If the parties do not have an agreement on all issues, the court will order mediation. If the parties still cannot agree following mediation, the court will set the matter for hearing.

Step #7. Issuance of a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

The court will review any agreement reached by the parties to ensure it is fair and equitable. If the parties do not agree on all issues, the court will hold a hearing on the matter, then rule upon the case and issue a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

When children are involved, a parenting plan and child support orders must be included.

If you have any questions about the divorce process, call Cory at (720) 295-4434.

Divorce FAQ's

How long does a divorce take?

Most divorces in Colorado take approximately 6-9 months to complete, depending upon your personal factors, and if the divorce is contested or uncontested. Every case is personal and will depend on your personal specifics.

The difference between legal separation and divorce?

Legal separation is an alternative to divorce or annulment. Legal separation finalizes all child custody and finances between spouses. The spouses are still technically married but at that point have become legally separated.

Why would spouses choose legal separation over divorce?

Finances, property, debts, parental responsibility and parenting time will be finalized by the court during a legal separation. Although spouses are still considered married so they can receive the benefits of some health plans, military benefits, insurance or religious purposes.

How long do you have to be separated before divorce in Colorado?

Spouses must wait 90 days for the Decree of Legal Separation to become final. This is the minimum amount of time that must pass before the court may finalize the separation; however, the process can take longer, especially if there are contested issues.

Is Colorado a no-fault state when it comes to divorce?

The State of Colorado refers to divorce as a "dissolution of marriage", and is a no-fault divorce state, which means that the court doesn't care about why a marriage failed. Colorado is only concerned with whether the marriage is "irretrievably broken".

Is Colorado a 50/50 state?

Colorado is an "Equitable Distribution" state not a community property state, issues regarding marital property and debt during a Colorado divorce are typically settled between the parties by a signed Marital Settlement Agreement within the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

How many years do you have to be married to get spousal support?

Courts are more likely to award rehabilitative or bridge-the-gap alimony in short-term marriages of less than seven years, while they are unlikely to award durational alimony unless the marriage lasted at least seven years.

Colorado divorce rates.

There was 3.2 divorces per 1,000 people in 2018 according to Insider.

Working With Family Law Attorney Cory Gallagher.

If you are facing a divorce, you need to work with a Denver divorce attorney that can take a look at your specific situation and advise you on all the aspects of  divorce you will be facing.

This might mean decisions regarding retirement funds, property, child support and parenting time, and alimony.

Cory Gallagher can work with you to help you decide how you want to tackle these elements of your marriage and divorce, while also providing guidance and support.

Cory will be able to lead you through the process while keeping you from procrastination and caving into pressure. He will also be able to help ensure you meet all the required timelines while ensuring that you get a fair case and trial should you need to go to court. Lastly, Cory will be able to help you find the freedom and new life you are seeking – one that is entirely on your terms.

Cory has experience helping clients with the divorce process in Arapahoe county court.

How Can I help?