January is a popular month for divorce. As you begin a new year, you might be considering divorce but have questions about the process, such as what steps are involved, how long it takes and how complex it may be.
While the divorce process can get complicated, having a basic idea of what to expect can help you start your divorce with realistic expectations.
The divorce petition and response
The first step is filing a divorce petition with the court. A divorce petition must contain certain required information, so you may want to work with a divorce attorney to make sure your petition is complete.
Your spouse will then be served with the divorce petition. If you feel comfortable doing so, telling your spouse you are filing for divorce before they receive the petition can make your overall divorce experience go smoother.
Once they are served, your spouse must respond to the divorce petition within 21 days. If they do not respond, your divorce can still go forward, but your spouse could lose their right to make divorce decisions.
The waiting period
There is a 90-day waiting period in Colorado before your divorce can be finalized and an official divorce decree entered.
Most states have similar waiting periods. The purpose of the waiting period is to allow you and your spouse time to decide if divorce is really what you both want, and to give you time to work out divorce issues, such as child custody or property division.
If you can agree on the issues, you will still have to go to court at least one time for a status conference. This is an informal hearing before a judge where an update on your situation is provided.
Sometimes, couples cannot agree on all issues. In that case, an additional hearing, or hearings, are scheduled. These are formal hearings where you and your spouse present testimony and evidence, and a judge decides on the issues.
Even with this basic overview of the process, you are likely to have many more questions along the way. Experienced divorce attorneys are there to guide you.