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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Ellison

How long does it take to get divorced in Colorado?


Hourglass and gavel image and text reading how long does it take to get divorced in Colorado?
Divorce in Colorado takes at least 91 days by statute.

A divorce in Colorado takes at least 91 days. There is a statutory waiting period of 91 days before a divorce can be finalized. In Colorado, most divorce cases take six to nine months.


It is important to note that the waiting period does not mean that the divorce will be finalized exactly 91 days after the petition is filed. The actual length of time it takes to finalize a divorce can vary depending on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the willingness of both parties to come to an agreement, and court availability. In this article, we will take a closer look at the divorce process in Colorado and provide some insight into how long it can take.


Key Takeaways:

· The shortest time period before the court can finalize a divorce is 91 days in Colorado.

· Most Colorado divorce cases take six to nine months to finalize because of complexity,

disagreement, and court availability for a hearing.

· A divorce in Colorado is settled by the parties completing, signing, and filing a Separation Agreement (also called a Property and Financial Agreement), a Parenting Plan (if there are minor children), an Affidavit for Decree without Appearance of Parties, and a proposed Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

· There are financial disclosures required by both parties before the court will finalize a case.

· If the parties reach full agreement, it is filed with the court to approve after 91 days.

· If the parties do not reach full agreement, a permanent orders hearing is required to have the Judge make decisions.

· Delays can be caused by disagreement, lack of information about assets or debts, complex assets or parenting issues, and the availability of the court.


The statutory 91 day waiting period

By law, the Court cannot issue a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage dissolving the marriage until the case has been open and served on the responding party for 91 days. The court must wait 91 days from the date either a joint petition is signed by both parties and filed, or the date divorce paperwork is served on the responding party or the responding party signs a Waiver and Acceptance of Service. This 91 day time period is often called a cooling-off period. There is no requirement to attempt to reconcile, you must simply wait out the time period and follow the other requirements of the case. You may be able to reach agreement much sooner and start carrying out the terms, but the official marital status cannot be dissolved until 91 days pass.


The parties may reach an agreement to settle the divorce well prior to this time and file it with the court. Parties can even reach a full agreement prior to filing the case and file all settlement documents at the same time they initiate the case. This simplifies the process and the parties wait for the time period to run and the court to issue the final decree.


However, the duration of each divorce depends on how quickly you and your spouse can reach an agreement on all terms of your divorce, which includes the division of marital property and debts and maintenance and, if there are children, parenting time, decision making, and child support.


If you and your spouse agree on all terms, then you could finalize your divorce in 91 days. If you and your spouse disagree on terms, then your case may take longer as information is gathered and experts are consulted. If your case is not settled by a certain time, the court will require you attend mediation to negotiate with the assistance of a mediator.


If you still cannot agree on all terms, then a Permanent Orders Hearing is necessary for the judge to make a decision. If your case needs experts and a final hearing, then the timeline is likely closer to 6 months to 1 year. The availability of the court for hearings varies by judicial district. In some districts, the court can schedule a hearing in two to three months. In other districts, the court does not have availability for a permanent orders hearing for seven to nine months.


Standard Timeline for a Divorce Case in Colorado

Below are the steps in a typical dissolution case and discussion of the time involved with each.

1. Residency Requirement

Before filing for divorce in Colorado, you or your spouse must be a resident of the state by making Colorado your primary residence for at least 91 days. If neither you nor your spouse has met the residency requirement, you will not be able to file for divorce in Colorado.

2. Filing the Petition

3. Financial Disclosure Requirement

4. Initial Status Conference

5. Temporary Orders

6. Mediation and Negotiation

7. Permanent Orders Hearing

Finalizing the Divorce

Once full agreement is reached or a permanent orders hearing is held, the court may issue a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. The Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is the legal document that ends your status as a married couple. If your case required a hearing, the Judge will issue Permanent Orders. Unlike the Permanent Orders themselves, the Decree is usually issued within a few days of the hearing. You may wait many months for the actual decision though.


Factors Causing Delay in Colorado Divorce

  • Lack of cooperation by either party in negotiations. This is obvious, but most delays are caused because the parties do not agree on terms. Sometimes the other party’s request is simply unreasonable and you cannot agree to it. Your attorney can help you determine the reasonability of terms as adjudged against their experience with the likely outcome if the disputed issue were argued at hearing.

  • Lack of prompt disclosure or availability of financial documentation. Attorneys need documentation of asset and debt values before we can knowledgably advise you on their division. To do this, we need statements showing values of all assets and debts possessed by both parties.

  • Need for Expert Analysis. Experts in divorce cases may be necessary to value real estate, businesses, pensions, or other assets. Experts are also commonly utilized to assess parenting responsibilities. Their work in preparing reports usually takes a couple months.

  • Availability of the Court to Schedule Hearing. Other than cooperation between the parties, the availability of the court is the number one determinant of the length of your hearing. After all, you cannot be divorced until 91 days pass and the judge has time to review and approve your agreement. Sometimes your assigned judge may be overseeing a two week-long criminal trial and not have time to review your agreement until after that. More commonly, the judge’s individual procedure will determine the length of your case. Read more in our article about who decides your divorce case. If you cannot get your spouse to understand the mediation requirement, you may be waiting until the judge’s next Status Conference on your case for them to tell your spouse to cooperate in scheduling. These scheduling issues commonly add months to cases.

There are many valid reasons to not rush your case. For example, it is better to have full knowledge rather than to make a hasty decision on a mistaken value of real estate or business. Also, it seems time may simply be a factor in both parties processing the changes in their lives and reaching a position to make agreement. It can be hard to make decisions when you’re trying figure out a new living situation.


Ways to Expedite the Divorce Process

  • Negotiate in good faith to get resolution. The quickest divorces are those where the parties have already discussed agreement between each other and whittled down clear areas of disagreement. It’s also much less expensive for you to speak to your spouse than for attorneys to speak to each other. To the extent you can do this, you can save yourself both time and money.

  • Gather and exchange financial documentation promptly when that stage of the case begins. Review and identify missing information to request from the other party quickly.

  • Hire an attorney to help you navigate the court process to efficiently conduct the case. Even if you believe you have full agreement, an attorney can help shepherd the case promptly through the system. Attorneys who understand each district's procedures can help expedite a case.

Do you need help with a divorce in Colorado?

If your case faces complexities, you may need an attorney experienced in divorce law to assist you through the process. An attorney can tell you how your unique situation may impact the timeline of your divorce case. Contact a divorce attorney at Ellison Law by submitting a contact form or calling (720) 340-1162.


Read More about Colorado divorce:

Who Decides My Case?

What is Divorce?

Who Gets to Keep the House in a Divorce?

Is there a Requirement That a Spouse Move Out of the Marital Home?


No Legal Advice Intended: This information is not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems.

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