Denver Divorce and Real Estate Lawyer Blog. (Vol 1.51) January 18, 2015
By Craig Franklin Chambers Esq. 7851 S. Elati Street #204, Littleton, CO 80120
The Littleton Lawyer.
As a Metro Denver-area lawyer practicing family law, custody, divorce and real estate law in South Denver, Littleton, and Highlands Ranch, including Roxbury Park, Chatfield, Ken Caryl, Bow Mar and Columbine Valley, I am often asked the question: How do you finalize a Colorado divorce?
Basically, Title 14 C.R.S. requires a waiting period of 91 days before a dissolution of marriage can be finalized The paperwork for the settlement can be submitted before then, but the court cannot sign off on the settlement and grant the divorce until after the statutory waiting period.
A settlement in a divorce is called a Separation Agreement. Because the facts of each case differ, the main thing in a Separation Agreement is that it cover every disputed issue of the divorce. That includes all of the children's issues including custody, parenting time child support, as well as financial issues such as spousal maintenance and the division of the parties debts and assets.
The Separation Agreement can be a full agreement or can be submitted in partial stipulations or parts. If a party fails to disclose an asset, or if the Separation Agreement is poorly drafted and the obligations of the parties under the Agreement are not clear that could leave the parties open to having the divorce re-opened at a later date. The most important consideration of the Separation Agreement is that every asset and every debt is clearly addressed and resolved.
The Separation Agreement needs to be signed by the parties and also by their attorneys. That doesn't mean the parties can't settle the case without attorneys, but the attorney's job is to protect the interests of their clients. If one party has an attorney, and the other one does not, and there are children's issues at stake, the court will hold a short "Non-Contested Permanent Orders Hearing" to make sure the parties truly have a meeting of the minds on the terms of the Separation Agreement. Otherwise, a divorce can be finalized if the parties execute the Separation Agreement without appearing in court for Permanent Orders.
If the parties and their attorneys sign and submit The Separation Agreement to the Court --- along with an affidavit of non-appearance and a proposed decree --- and if the 91 days have passed since the divorce was filed, it becomes a part of the Decree which is the Court's order granting the divorce. The divorce is then final, subject to performance of the terms of the Separation Agreement.