Notice: if you are unsure about
how to complete forms or how to proceed, you may wish to consult
with an attorney. Court staff can not answer questions regarding
A petition for dissolution of marriage requests
termination of a marriage.
A petition for legal separation request
a court order to arrange the terms of allocation of parental responsibility,
child support, maintenance, debts, and property division under which
a married couple will live separately.
A petitioner is a person filing
a formal written application to a court requesting judicial action.
A co-petitioner is a person
filing together with the petitioner a formal written application
to a court requesting judicial action.
A respondent is the person
against whom an action is being taken.
Personal service is proof of
notification of filing of divorce.
90 DAYS - the amount of time one wife or
husband must be a resident of Colorado
before a divorce action can be filed in this state.
6 MONTHS - the amount of time children must have
lived in this state before Colorado has the right to determine custody
90 DAYS - the minimum time which must pass, after
a divorce action is filed and served, before final orders can enter.
Dissolution of Marriage is $230.00. Legal
Separation is $225.00. At the time you pay your filing fee,
you will receive a receipt from the clerk that will contain your
case number. Include that case number on all further paper
work. Be sure to have that case number if you call the court for
any reason. While your case is active you must keep the court
informed of any address changes. You must do this in writing.
Forms in pre- made packets are available at the
clerk's office for $10.00. Most individual forms are $.75. Forms
are also available at www.courts.state.co.us .
To begin the process to get divorced, you must
file a Petition and pay a filing fee. Complete the front and
back pages of the petition with all the necessary information that
applies to you.
There are two ways to begin the process:
- Both you and your spouse may sign the Petition
as Petitioner and Co-petitioner.
- You may sign as a Petitioner naming your spouse
as the Respondent. If you file as the Petitioner naming your
spouse as the Respondent you must serve your spouse with papers
or have your spouse sign a waiver of service ( see information
about this under Summons)
Either way a court employee or a Notary must witness
the signature (s) on the petition. The signing and the filing
of the Petition are only the beginning of the process.
AUTOMATIC TEMPORARY INJUNCTION
An automatic temporary injunction will be in effect
upon the joint filing of the petition, or upon service of the Petition
and Summons on the Respondent, or upon the signing of a waiver and
acceptance of service by the Respondent. You will find the
Temporary Injunction printed on the Petition and Summons included
in the pre-made form packets. This does not take effect until
the other party is personally served. This is only available
in divorce cases. There is no temporary injunction in Allocation
of Parental Responsibilities case.
CHANGE OF NAME
If you are filing, and you desire to have a prior
name restored, you must so indicate on the Petition. If that party
is the Respondent, the request should be noted on the response.
If your spouse is signing the petition with you,
the summons is not necessary.
Complete the Summons listing the Petitioner and
Respondent. Court staff will issue (sign the bottom of) the
summons. Unless you and your spouse file as Petitioner and
Co-petitioner, or your spouse is willing to sign a waiver (see below),
you must arrange to have the Petition, Summons and Order Regarding
Parenting Class served on your spouse.
In Allocation of Parental Responsibilities cases,
in which a 3rd party grandparent has filed, service must
be accomplished on both the mother AND the father.
SERVING YOUR SPOUSE
Service basically means that your spouse has been
notified of this divorce. You can not serve the papers yourself. Options
as to how to let your spouse know a divorce has been filed are:
1 - Sheriff's office hands your spouse the papers for a fee. The
Sheriff's Office will provide you with a Return of Service (proof
they have served the papers) once they have served them. It
is your responsibility to file this original return of service
as soon as possible, with the court.
2 - Private process server hands your spouse the papers
for a fee. The private process server may use the back page
of the summons for a return of Service. It is your responsibility
to file this original Return of Service as soon as possible with
WAIVER AND ACCEPTANCE OF SERVICE
If the Respondent is willing to accept service
of the Summons and the Petition, the Respondent must sign the back
side of the Summons (waiver) before a Notary. It is unnecessary
to serve the Respondent through the Sheriff's office or private server
if the Respondent is willing to accept the service and sign the waiver.
WHAT IF I CAN NOT FIND THE RESPONDENT
You must try very hard to find the respondent. After
you have tried to locate the respondent and you are still unable
to obtain personal service, you may file a verified motion requesting
an order for service by publication (and pay a fee for the publication).
The Respondent may file a response to the petition
and pay a $116.00 fee.
You may ask the court to enter orders regarding
property to take effect while the divorce is pending. Any motions
must be sent to the opposing party and you must complete a certificate
of mailing to be filed with your motion.
If you have been married for ten or more years each
party must complete and file with the Court an Affidavit with Respect
to Financial Affairs. It must contain current information. If
any information changes prior to your final hearing date you need
to let the Court know by filing an amended affidavit. Sign
the document before a notary or have a court clerk witness your signature.
You may obtain a divorce without a hearing only
if 1) there are no minor children of the marriage; 2) the wife is
not pregnant; 3) there is no genuine issue as to any material fact;
and 4) if needed there is a written separation agreement indicating
the division of property, debts, and maintenance, if any.
The form asks the court to enter you Decree WITHOUT
appearing for a court hearing. Both parties should sign the
affidavit. Be sure to have your signatures wither witnessed
by a clerk or notarized.
If only one party is available to sign the affidavit
then you must wait until 30 days has passed from when the other party
was served the divorce papers. Then complete the affidavit,
sign it, (notarized or witnessed) and mail a copy to the other party
in your case. Make sure to complete the certificate of mailing
on the back of the form.
Be prepared to provide the following information
when you contact the court for a hearing:
- Case number
- Date petition was filed if you filed together
- Date the summons was served on your spouse or
the date a waiver of service was signed
If you filed as petitioner/co-petitioner, you need
to wait as least a week after you file for your divorce to call the
Magistrates clerk and get a court date. (970-257-3691)
If you filed as petitioner and respondent you need
to wait until you have served the respondent. The respondent
has 20 days to file a response if served in state and 30 days if
served out of state. AFTER THAT TIME HAS PASSED:
- If no response has been filed you can call the
Magistrate's clerk to set a non-contested hearing ( 970-257-3691)
- If a response has been filed do not call the
court. The case will be reviewed and the court will send
you an order directing you to participate in mediation. Follow
the instructions on the mediation order. Once you have gone
- If agreed on all aspects of your case, call
the Magistrate's clerk to set a hearing (970-257-3691)
- If you still do not agree on all issues in your
case a hearing will be necessary. Parties must file a Consent
to Appear before the Magistrate, or if the parties do not consent
to have a magistrate hear the case, you must call the judge's division
to which your case has been assigned.
If you and your spouse agree on some or all of
the issues, prepare a Separation Agreement. You may use the
printed form or use your own written agreement. The purpose
of the agreement is to provide for the division of any property that
has not already been divided. Even if you do not agree on all
issues, use this form to give your information to the court before
the hearing on the permanent orders.
NOTE: the only way the court will accept the documents
you filed as an agreement is if BOTH parties' signatures are notarized
or witness by the clerk.
A common mistake that the courts see which may
delay your case evolves around separation agreements and the checkmarks
that are made in box 4 and 5 on your Affidavit for Decree without
Appearance of Parties. If you have no property to be divided
and there are no marital debts- you want to place a checkmark ONLY
in the first box of section 4 and then you do not prepare a separation
agreement; you are telling the court you have no property or debt
and therefore you do not have anything to agree upon.
If you have already divided your property and see
no need to put it in writing that is acceptable. If that is
the case then you should place a checkmark ONLY in the first box
of section 4.
If you do have marital property or debts and file
with the court a written agreement then you must place a checkmark
in the second and third box in section 4 along with the first box
in section 5.
If you are appearing before the Magistrate, your
Decree will be completed for you. If you are appearing before
a judge you will need to purchase a Decree, complete the caption,
and file with the court. Decree forms are included in the pre-made
packets available at the Mesa County Justice Center.
(back to top of page)
here for driving directions.