The answer to the question of “how long does it take to get a divorce” is–it depends. The quickest a divorce can be granted in Colorado is 91 days from the date of service upon the other Party. That means, even if the legal separation is uncontested and both Parties agree to all issues and even if all documents are filed with the Court and nothing remains to be resolved, the divorce will not be granted until 91 days after service. There is no exception to this jurisdictional rule.
An uncontested divorce is one in which all property division, financial support and parenting matters are settled. For example, the value of a retirement account like a 401(k) or an IRA can be determined from the most recent statement so the Parties know how the accounts can be divided. The value of a home can be determined by getting an appraisal or comparative market analysis or even by agreeing to sell the home. Then, whatever the home is sold for, is the value of the home. If the Parties have already agreed on how they will divide the proceeds from the sale of the home, this will shorten the time to divorce because a Court will not have to decide the issue. If the Parties have already agreed upon who will take which debt, that matter is resolved. Parenting plans, including a parenting time schedule and child support can be agreed upon and made part of any settlement. Even spousal maintenance (the new words for “alimony”), can be settled. With such a case, the Parties agree, the agreement is written in the form of a Separation Agreement and/or a Parenting Plan. Everything is filed with the Court and no-one steps foot inside a Courtroom. An uncontested divorce involves little or no courtroom time because scheduling courtroom time means getting in line with everyone else who is waiting to get in. If a case can be fully resolved through agreement, the case will likely be resolved close to the 90 day time period. Local divorce lawyers assist Clients with gathering the evidence needed to evaluate a marital estate, analyzing the evidence, and presenting it to the Client for valuation and division. With this, the attorney will also be presenting all the options from which the Client may choose as to how they want to proceed. The attorney should inform their Client when a strategy or choice carries significant risk. The Client may still choose the risky option, but at least the Client will understand the risk and can prepare accordingly. It is the Client, not the divorce lawyer, who decides what is right for them and for their family. The attorney can also ensure that the documents filed with the Court protect the Client and reflect the settlement to which the Client agreed. There should be no surprises.
With most divorces, though, there are at least some contested issues. So, for most legal separations it will take longer than 91 days to complete the process and have the Court grant the “Decree of Dissolution of Marriage”. An average time frame for a relatively uncomplicated but contested divorce is likely 6-8 months. This time is needed because when a legal separation is contested as to any issue, each side must prepare to go to Court or to convince the other side of their position to reach a settlement. Time is needed for the Parties to gather and exchange the financial documents required by Colorado’s Rule 16.2 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. Time is needed for the Parties to decide either between themselves or at a settlement conference how they are going to resolve the financial and the parenting issues. Time is needed to obtain certain evidence–like an appraisal of a home or an analysis of a retirement account. All of these processes require time and that means it will take longer and the date of decree will extend beyond the 3 months. Also, anytime the Court is involved and must make decisions on issues that are not settled, there is delay. The Court’s dockets are crowded and it is not unusual to receive a Court date 6-10 months away.
It is also possible that a case is more complex while also being contested. These cases take longer, often up to a year. For example, if there are multiple businesses owned by a Party the businesses must be evaluated. Multiple high dollar assets may need appraisals. If there are obscure bank accounts or transactions that must be investigated, such tasks require time. If the Parties go to Court for emergency motions or Temporary Orders Hearings or for special rulings on an obscure matter, the Court appearances use significant time for scheduling. Disagreements over parenting issues–such as one Party wanting a certain parenting time plan while the other disagrees–often extend the timeline because a parenting expert is needed. That expert will often require about 3 months for the investigation and evaluation process.
Whether a case is complex, uncomplicated, or contested, is often revealed through the process–and not always known at the start of the case. Choices a divorcing Party makes during the process can shorten the time when a final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is granted. However, divorces involve two people, two opinions and needs and expectations, and the nature of divorcing Parties is mistrust and lack of communication. Your Local Divorce Lawyer can best guide you on expectations for how long the process will last and what to anticipate as possible choices. Together, you and your attorney will proceed through the divorce process either settling matters or, unfortunately, getting in line with everyone else for the Court to decide your issues.
Getting the answer to your question, how long does it take to get a divorce, does depend on your specific situation, but hopefully the above explanation from Jeanne herself gives you an idea. If you are looking for a reputable local divorce lawyer here in Colorado Springs, give Jeanne M. Wilson a call today for individual divorce help. She is here to take care of you! Call now!