What Are the Types of Divorces in Colorado?

Divorce is a big topic in Colorado Springs, especially when trying to navigate all the questions surrounding the dissolution of your marriage. A divorce or legal separation can occur in several ways. Liberty Law Center is here to help you educate yourself on the different divorce options you have in Colorado.

In general, there are five ways a dissolution may occur in Colorado: an uncontested divorce, a mediated divorce, a collaborative divorce, a litigated divorce, and a legal separation. We’ll walk you through each one below…

An Uncontested Divorce
When both spouses agree, this is called an uncontested divorce. This means that as long as a couple can agree that their marriage is irretrievably broken and decide on how to divide up their assets, figure out child custody and visitation arrangements, and any kind of other legal issues, they can present a “separation agreement” that the court will respect.  If children are involved, an appearance before a judge or magistrate may be required, unless both parties are represented by a lawyer.  If no children are involved, the parties can submit their separation agreement and a non-appearance affidavit for approval by the court without appearing in court. Wouldn’t it be so great if divorce worked like this every time? Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t.

A Mediated Divorce
So what if a couple can’t agree on everything—like dividing property, alimony, child custody, etc? They have several other options, one of which is a mediated divorce. This is where a mediator in the form of an objective, third party (usually a lawyer or retired judge) helps a couple make decisions and work toward a resolution for their divorce agreement. The mediator does not provide legal advice for either person, but will assist the couple to decide on what is fair and equitable in their separation.

A Collaborative Divorce
A collaborative divorce is when each spouse has a lawyer that helps them navigate the divorce process, but without having to go to court to achieve a satisfactory outcome for both parties involved. A collaborative divorce requires the parties to hire attorneys specially trained in this process and commit to resolve their case by settlement rather than the adversarial process.  So spouses commit to resolving things outside of court while using lawyers and other family professionals to help them sort out the ends and outs of a permanent separation.  If the settlement is unsuccessful, new attorneys must be hired to litigate the case in court.

A Litigated Divorce
Sometimes, litigation is the best—or only—way to go to get through an extremely difficult divorce. A litigated divorce is one where your attorney files a petition for divorce, and the Colorado court system takes it through the entire legal process through hearings and possibly even a trial. In a litigated divorce, the court will decide how to divide up your property, how to best handle issues like child support and alimony, and how to provide an equitable outcome for both spouses. The Colorado court is committed to making sure that the outcome is fair for all parties involved.

A Legal Separation
Are you sure you’re ready for a divorce? While many people file for divorce right away once they decide a marriage isn’t working, there are other options to try first. Sometimes, it’s good to take one’s time with a legal separation before going through an actual divorce. A legal separation can help you breathe easier and take time to process, but it doesn’t force you to break the marriage apart yet. This can be a great option for anyone who might not want a divorce yet because of various legal reasons–like health insurance, religious reasons, or tax reasons. After 6 months from the entry of a decree of legal separation, either party can request that the court convert the legal separation to a decree of dissolution.