In our experience, many divorcing couples will either agree at the outset that they want to compromise on all major issues, or they agree at the outset that they have no intention of giving in on any issue that doesn’t go their way. But when a couple decides to treat a divorce like a negotiation in which both sides will have to give up some things to achieve success, it can lead to what is known as an uncontested divorce. This doesn’t mean that there are no conflicts, or long and hard-fought negotiation sessions, but it does mean that the couple has entered the process with the mindset that they will do everything to avoid going to court to have a judge determine who gets what. If properly handled, an uncontested divorce typically moves through the system much faster than a contested divorce, creates less conflict and disharmony, and keeps the details of the divorce out of the public record.
In Colorado, a couple that wants to obtain an uncontested divorce must follow these steps:
Agree that their marriage is irretrievably broken, because Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, which means that this is the only grounds for getting a divorce in the state.
Reside in the state for at least 90 days prior to filing the petition for divorce. To fulfill this step, only one spouse in the divorce must adhere to this rule.
Create a marital settlement agreement that details how each major issue of the marriage has been resolved. This includes issues like the division of assets, division of debts, and timesharing and visitation issues if children are involved.
File the agreement with the court of jurisdiction.
On the face of it, a couple that agrees to enter into an uncontested divorce may think that they don’t need the guidance of an attorney. But the truth is that even in the best-case scenario, both parties still need the advice of a lawyer to ensure that all their rights are protected.
A well-meaning spouse may give up something he or she thinks is a small issue, only to find out later that what they gave up is not equitable.
Other reasons to hire an experienced divorce attorney include:
Handling Unexpected Events – If something unforeseen happens, such as the other person changing his or her mind about an issue that was already resolved, a lawyer can help set things right again.
Understanding Your Legal Rights – If you are unsure about your rights during the settlement process, your lawyer can understand the implications of any decision you make.
Complying With Legal Procedures – The courts require couples in an uncontested divorce to follow certain procedures and to complete specific documents. A lawyer can ensure that the final agreement meets all the requirements for acceptance by a judge.
In theory, uncontested divorces are easier to process than contested divorces, but that doesn’t mean that complications and conflicts will not arise. And even the most ironclad promises can fall apart when emotion gets in the way, especially when children are involved.
The best way we’ve found for our clients in uncontested divorces to feel confident and secure is to make sure that we are with them every step of the way. Whether we provide counsel during a mediation session, or we are at the negotiating table during settlement talks, our job is to keep the process on track, protect our clients’ interests, and achieve a speedy and satisfying solution.
Please contact a Colorado Springs Family Law Attorney at Kinnaird Law to schedule a consultation about your divorce.