How Long Will My Divorce Case Take?

Lawyers shaking hands

Unlike criminal cases, there is no such thing as a right to a speedy trial in divorce proceedings.

Let’s take a look at the process of getting a divorce and several factors that can affect how long it takes for your case to be finalized.

Early Steps of Getting a Divorce

The first thing to remember about getting a divorce in Colorado is that it cannot be settled for 91 days. If a couple files for divorce on day 1, and signs a divorce agreement on day 7, they still have to wait 84 more days to actually get divorced. The State implemented this law to help people understand that marriage is meant to be a serious, long-term and legally binding agreement.

Once you file for divorce, the Court will schedule an initial status conference (ISC). This is usually done quickly because the Court believes that its early involvement will help the case get resolved sooner. The ISC may even be scheduled before the other side even has an attorney enter an appearance, and it may be scheduled for dates that don’t work for both parties.

This is why I believe you should not file for divorce until both attorneys are involved and you can clear dates on both calendars; it will make the process go more smoothly.

Settling Your Divorce Case

In the ISC, you and your spouse will receive a trial date, absent some unusual situation (say, your attorney dies, someone is in a bad accident, etc.)

You and your spouse have the ability to settle your case up until you go to Court. When you go to Court, you give away your negotiating power and you’ll be stuck with whatever decisions the judge makes on your behalf. So, it’s a very good idea to try and resolve any issues — parenting agreements, divvying up assets, etc. — before your trial date. Often, mediation/arbitration is an excellent way to reach important decisions about these things.

After 91 days have gone by, you can get divorced as soon as you reach an agreement. There’s something called a “non-appearance affidavit”, where, if both sides have attorneys and you execute a divorce agreement that resolves the case, and both sides execute a non-appearance affidavit, within 7-19 days the Court will sign off on the paperwork and you get divorced without ever having to show up to Court.

When You Don’t Reach an Agreement

A good attorney will do everything he or she can to help get your case resolved before going to trial. It’s generally less expensive, heart wrenching, and better for kids (when there are kids from the marriage).

However, if you are unable to reach an agreement by your trial date, you’ll go to Court. In Boulder, trial dates are generally set 5-7 months after the ISC, which provides ample time to get ready, reach an agreement, etc.

Every Divorce Case is Different

All that being said, every divorce case is different. Some couples are able to quickly execute a divorce agreement and be on their merry way after 91 days. Others take over a year to resolve (this generally happens when there are children, significant assets, and strong personalities involved).

Most people want their divorce case to be resolved quickly; it often comes down to how reasonable people will be with their soon-to-be-former spouse.

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