In the State of Colorado, if one person in a marriage declares they want a divorce, there is no way for the other person to block it from happening (for more details, see my previous blog post, “Is it Possible to Refuse a Divorce in Colorado?”). This is because Colorado is a no-fault divorce state.
However, there are some states in the union that still recognize “fault divorces,” which essentially means that someone is to blame for the marriage not working out. In those states, it is possible to fight a divorce if you contest the grounds.
Since I only practice law in Colorado, I’m not going to get into the specifics of fault divorce states. Instead, let’s look at what it means to get divorced in a no-fault divorce state.
Divorce in Colorado
In Colorado, you only have to prove two things to get a divorce:
- That you have been a resident for at least 91 days.
- That the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Usually, I tell my clients that when you have a two-person partnership and one person says they don’t want to be there anymore, then the partnership is pretty much broken.
I worked on one case where a husband was determined to contest the divorce. He argued that the marriage was not irretrievably broken. In Court, he testified for 30 minutes to the judge, explaining why the marriage was not broken. At that point, the judge stopped him and said, “That’s enough. After half an hour, I’ve never heard of a marriage more irretrievably broken than this one.” The judge granted the divorce.
You cannot stop a divorce in Colorado when you have proven the two items listed above.
The Initial Status Conference
In Colorado, within 42 days of the divorce paperwork being filed and served, the Court will conduct an ISC, which stands for “Initial Status Conference.” The purpose of the ISC is to find out which issues will need to be dealt with in your particular divorce.
While these conferences are different in each County, the Boulder conferences will address the following:
- Determine whether you've done what you’re supposed to do. In Colorado, parties are required to exchange detailed financial information so the Court can make a fair decision about the division of assets and debts, child support and maintenance, etc. If you have minor children, you’re supposed to take a parenting class to prepare you and your spouse for the potential impact your divorce could have on your kids. The Court will need to see proof that you have done these things; if you haven’t, it will give you a deadline by which you must complete them.
- Determine if temporary orders are needed. These are orders that will remain in effect during the pendency of the case. (Read more about temporary orders.)
- Determine if outside experts are needed. If they are, both parties will need to agree on whether experts are needed for a specific area, and, if so, who the expert is. If the parties can’t decide if an expert is needed, the Court will decide. If the parties cannot agree on the person that will serve as the expert, the parties will submit names for the Court to decide.
- Schedule a divorce date. I call this the “drop dead date,” because everything absolutely must be settled by then, or the Court will decide any unresolved issues. If there are 100 issues in your divorce case and you’ve resolved only 98 of them, you will still have a trial on the drop dead date to resolve those two issues.
Yes, Your Spouse Can Still Stall
At this point, your spouse can still stall and ask for a continuance, but absent a good reason, you will most likely have your trial on the drop dead date.
What’s a “good reason” for a continuance in the Court’s eyes? Well, in one case I worked on recently, one of the parties was hospitalized with a severe COVID case (he has since recovered). The judge determined that the divorce proceeding should be paused until he was well enough to participate.
In general, it’s safe to assume that after 42 days, you’ll get a trial date, whether or not your spouse is dragging his or her feet. Whatever the two of you don’t get worked out beforehand, will be decided by the judge.
Are you trying to get through your divorce in the most speedy and fair way possible? Call our office today at 303-449-1873 to set up a complimentary consultation.