This Is How The Divorce Process Works and How Long It Will Take

When it comes to divorce most would say they want the process to be over as soon as possible so they can move on with their lives. This inevitably leads everyone to ask “how long will it be until I am officially divorced from my spouse?” A great place to start is our Divorce Timeline, which can be found under the Tools tab on our website. However, we also want to give a more general overview of how long the process might take. The specific circumstances and complexity of your case will determine the timeline, but overall, this is what you can expect the process to look like.


When You First File-


Once you have filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the courts in your county, your spouse must be personally served.  Learn more about what to do if you are the one being served divorce papers.

Once your spouse is served, he or she has 21 days (35 for out of state) to file a response. If you and your spouse both want the divorce and sign a petition jointly, the Service/Response step can be ignored. Your spouse may also agree to waive service if you do not file jointly. Just because you sign jointly does not mean the process is complete, and you will still need to follow the rest of the requirements in the process.


Once Your Ex Is Served-


You have 42 days after the date of filing to set up an initial status conference with the court and submit your financial disclosures. The initial status conference is your first court appearance and is an informal way for both parties and the Court to get on the same page about dates and deadlines in your case. It depends on the county and jurisdiction that you are in as to whether they will schedule a time for your initial status conference automatically once you file, or if you or your attorney have to reach out to the court to schedule your own. The timing for this solely depends on your county’s court and its timeline. You also will need to have your financial disclosures submitted within that 42-day deadline as well.


After Initial Status Conference-


You have the option to file for Temporary Orders, which is only necessary if there is an immediate conflict that must be addressed while your case is ongoing. Temporary Orders can help with decision making, child support or spousal support, or who will live in the marital residence during the divorce process. Temporary orders will be replaced by permanent orders at the end of your case. A temporary orders hearing, which is a separate court date, must be set to decide this and it will extend your case.


Once you’ve had your initial status conference, you and your spouse are then required to attend mediation by the state of Colorado. Everyone who files for divorce in Colorado must attend mediation, with a few exceptions. In rare cases where the parties agree to every issue, it is possible to skip mediation, which would shorten your case. Additionally, you may request mediation be waived in cases of domestic violence.




Mediation is a formal settlement conference where the mediator (whom you hire) assists in trying to reach a full agreement between you and your ex. If mediation is successful, you will leave with a signed or partial settlement agreement. Then your attorneys draft the final agreements and file the documents with the court.


If mediation is not successful, you must either come up with a settlement or prepare to go to trial. If you need to go to trial, this must be scheduled with the court and the timing completely depends on their availability and timeline. This can extend your case; therefore, it is ideal to come up with agreements in mediation or a settlement.




Your divorce will be finalized once a judge issues a decree of dissolution of marriage which then severs the marriage, and you are no longer married.




If a party is not satisfied with the final decision made by the court, then an appeal can be made. There are specific time constraints around appeals, so you will want to speak with your attorney if you wish to appeal any part of your divorce decree.


You also may modify certain orders put in place by the courts if circumstances change after the final agreement has been made. Again, you will want to speak with your attorney if you would like to modify any documents or orders post-divorce.


Overall, it can be difficult to determine the exact length that it will take to finalize your divorce because every situation is different. Your timeline will depend on the specific circumstances and jurisdiction of your case.

If you have questions about your particular situation or would like to speak with an attorney today, contact us.

Attorney Brooke Shafranek Answers Your Questions Regarding COVID-19 and How It Affects Your Divorce

Divorce Matters attorney Brooke Shafranek answers questions submitted from the community.

Q. Can I still get a divorce? (0:18)

Q. What can I do if I’m experiencing an emergency, such as domestic violence or child abuse? (2:30)

Q. Co-parenting, parenting plans, what happens if we need to deviate or I and my ex disagree? (3:04)

Q. What will happen with the stimulus checks that the government is sending out? (3:53)

Contact us for more information or to schedule a video or phone consultation:  720-542-6142

Signs of Domestic Violence, and How to Help

Unfortunately, domestic abuse remains a serious problem in Colorado. According to the latest data provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), approximately 16,700 domestic violence reports are filed with law enforcement in the state each year.

Sadly, the true extent of the domestic violence problem is undoubtedly far higher than the official law enforcement numbers show ”” not only are most domestic violence cases never actually prosecuted, the vast majority of the victims never file a formal report at all.

Here, our dedicated Fort Collins divorce attorneys offer an overview of some of the warning signs of domestic abuse. In addition, we highlight three important tips that friends and family members should keep in mind if they want to help.

The Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse

It is important to remember that every domestic violence case is unique ”” abuse can take a wide range of forms, and different strategies may be required to provide useful help for different victims. Simply put, domestic abuse is extremely complicated. It is not uncommon for victims to be unsure, unaware, or in denial of the abuse. Some of the most common warning signs of domestic abuse include:

  • Controlling behavior;
  • Forced social isolation;
  • Extreme jealousy;
  • Verbal threats and intimidation; and
  • Any form of physical violence.

If you see actual injuries or other signs of physical abuse, you need to take immediate action. Of course, physical abuse can be covered up. Loved ones who suspect a problem should watch for the other warning signs of domestic violence as well.

How to Help a Domestic Violence Victim


  • Be Aware of the Situation


If you suspect domestic violence, you need to follow up on the issue. It is common to have credible suspicions without actually being entirely sure as to what is happening. The victim may even deny the abuse, or they may downplay the problem. This does not mean that you should let it go: You should always keep your eye on the situation and be ready to take action.


  • Help Them Develop a Workable Safety Plan


Dealing with domestic violence is incredibly challenging. On top of the terrible emotional issues, there are often complex logistical matters that must be resolved before a victim can get the help that they deserve. If you want to help a loved one, you must focus on assisting them in creating a workable safety plan. This includes everything from getting them to a safe location to sleep to making sure they have transportation and protection for their kids.


  • Be Ready to Seek Professional Guidance


You should always be prepared to seek professional guidance. You do not have to go through this on your own. One of the best starting points is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. For immediate assistance, you can call 1-800-799-SAFE. Free domestic abuse help is available 24/7/365.

Speak to a Domestic Violence Lawyer Today

At Divorce Matters, our compassionate Fort Collins domestic violence attorneys are committed advocates for our clients. We understand that each case is unique and we offer every person the fully individualized legal guidance that they need and deserve.

To arrange a fully private consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team at (720) 580-6745. With offices in Lakewood, Greenwood Village, and Fort Collins, we serve clients in metro Denver, the Front Range, and throughout the state of Colorado.

You Are Not Invited to Violate a Restraining Order

Civil protection orders, which are called restraining orders, can be issued on a temporary or permanent basis. Many times the parties are not strangers and have or had some type of relationship. It could be any familiar relationship such as husband-wife, boyfriend and girlfriend or similar relationships. When actual violence or threats of violence cause one party to get a civil restraining order, the relationship often does not end. But that does not mean the restraining order can be violated.
Not even if you’re invited. Not by writing, not by text, not even by Fed Ex. Not email, not by snail mail, not by thumbnail. According to the Colorado Court of Appeals, the other party can never consent to the violation of a restraining order. Even if they give consent, it’s not valid. So if your ex- wife has a restraining order with a no contact provision and then tells you its ok to contact her, it’s not. Not even if she sends it to you in writing by certified mail.
Many people find this confusing. How can you violate a restraining order if the other party agrees to it? Because consent of the court is required, not consent of the parties. This is meant to keep an abuser from bullying the other party into consent, which can lead to more bullying.

Civil Protection Orders and Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a very real and unfortunate reality for hundreds of thousands all over the United States. Getting help from family or emergency services is one of the first steps you need to take, but what comes next? Civil protection orders are a great place to start! Here are five things you need to know about civil protection orders and domestic violence in Colorado.

1. A Civil Protection Order Can Be Issued By Just About Any Court

Even a municipal court can issue a temporary civil restraining order. All courts have “original and concurrent jurisdiction.” Meaning that a court hearing your divorce does not have to hear the restraining order claim. Even if a district court judge just ruled your ex-husband can have parenting time this weekend, a municipal court judge could issue a restraining order prohibiting that parenting time by restraining you.

2. A Temporary Restraining Order Can Be Issued to Protect From “Domestic Abuse”, “Stalking”, and “Threatened Harm”

There does not have to have been an actual event resulting in harm for a restraining order to issue. Emails, texts, calls, snap chats and other forms of communication all can be staking or threatening and may even be domestic abuse.

3. The Alleged Perpetrator Does Not Have Any Right to Be Present When a Judge Decides to Issue a Temporary Restraining Order

Yes, you can be temporarily restrained from your own home or restrained from seeing your children without ever being given the opportunity to speak. A temporary restraining order can, in court language, be granted “ex parte.”

4. No Criminal Proceedings Are Necessary

In fact, there doesn’t even have to be a report or complaint filed with law enforcement. A court has the right to restrain someone even if criminal charges will never be filed.

5. You cannot return to your residence if you are temporarily restrained

The “protected” people don’t have to leave. The restrained person has the right to return to the shared residence only to get “undisputed” personal effects to live with until a court hearing and only if accompanied by law enforcement.

Contact a Denver Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have any questions regarding domestic violence, civil protection orders, or any other family law issues, don’t hesitate to contact our domestic violence attorneys today!

Top 3 Things to Know About a Domestic Violence Arrest

Domestic violence is an unfortunate reality for people all throughout the United States. The reason that domestic violence is such a problem is that the guilty party is usually the partner of the victim and they still feel too much emotional attachment to that person to call the police and get them arrested. They may also feel fear. They may worry about that person will react when they find out, so they keep the emotional and physical bruises hidden away. The first step to getting out of this kind of situation is to get the proper help, which usually starts with a helpline and/or the police. Here are the top three things you need to know if your partner is arrested on domestic violence charges.

An Arrest is Mandatory

Colorado criminal statutes require the police to arrest “without undue delay” whenever they have probable cause to believe that domestic violence has occurred. You do not get to pass go and collect $200. You must go directly to jail.  The law states “the arrested person shall be removed from the scene of the arrest and shall be taken to the peace officer’s station for booking.”

There’s No “Get Out of Jail Free” Card

With a domestic violence charge, you cannot be released on a bond until the prosecutors consult with the victim.  Domestic violence is a “Victim Rights Act” case.  The prosecutor cannot dismiss the charges without consulting with the victim and cannot release you from jail on a bond without consulting with the victim.  If you are arrested on Friday, most likely you will be jail until Monday because the prosecutor must at least attempt to contact the victim before a bond is set.

Plea Bargaining Can Be Difficult

A domestic violence charge cannot be reduced or changed to a non-domestic violence charge unless the prosecutor stated on the record they cannot establish a preliminary case and the judge accepts that statement.

Get in Touch With a Denver Domestic Violence Attorney

The arrest of a spouse can be very difficult no matter what the situation that led to the arrest was. The domestic violence attorneys at Divorce Matters can help you as your family moves forward after these events. Give us a call today at 720-542-6142.

Domestic Violence Laws in Colorado

Colorado has a very broad criminal definition of domestic violence.  This is designed to provide the greatest amount of protection for a victim of domestic violence and gives the police the greatest latitude to arrest someone.  Colorado criminal law defines domestic violence as “an act or threatened an act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.”  As you can see this is a very broad definition.

It’s Not Just Married Couples

An intimate relationship does not mean you have to be married. It applies to couples and even boyfriends and girlfriends, it even applies to past lovers as well as the present.  It also applies to children, grandchildren, and others present in the household. Again, the idea provides maximum protection to the broadest possible group living in a household or making up a domestic unit.

Recognizing Domestic Violence

Because Domestic Violence includes a “threatened act” of violence very common situations can be construed as a criminal act including:

  • Throwing things at someone
  • Grabbing or pushing
  • Following someone around
  • Threatening or harassing phone calls.

There does not have to be actual physical touching or even physical harm. The threat of harm can be enough and the threat of harm does not have to be in person. Emails, phone calls, text messages are all sufficient to be charged with domestic violence crime.   Texts to Ex’s can be domestic violence if they are threatening or harassing.

Contact a Denver Domestic Violence Lawyer for Help

If you feel like you are in domestic violence situation, call the police or reach out to the appropriate helpline to get the help you need. Don’t let an abusive partner control your life, get out of the bad situations and let the family law attorneys at Divorce Matters help!

National Domestic Violence Hotline1-800-799-7233

Abuse Victims Should Not Have To Continue Enduring Abuse For Fear Of Deportation

A woman in El Paso seeking refuge from her alleged abuser met with a chilling fate ”“ ICE agents waiting at the courthouse to deport her. The woman went to a courthouse to seek a protective order, but her alleged abuser had apparently reported her to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Shortly after obtaining the protective order, ICE swooped in and arrested the woman.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions about the case, but this does a disservice to victims of abuse everywhere. Domestic violence victims are entitled to protection from violent abusers and should not have to continue to experience abuse for fear of deportation. To arrest a woman in such a precarious situation after she sought help (one of the most difficult things for abuse victims to do) could set a precedent that discourages other abuse victims from seeking help.

Additionally, if ICE was indeed tipped off by the alleged abuser, then her arrest may be in violation of certain provisions of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act that protects undocumented women when reporting perpetrators, according to the director of the University of Texas’ Immigration Clinic.

If a person needs an order of protection, they should come speak to our attorneys and we can review all options they have. The attorney-client privilege applies even in cases involving undocumented parties. Our attorneys are not police officers and we are not out to get you. Everything told to an attorney is confidential and a person’s legal status will not be reported to a government agency. If you are suffering from domestic abuse, you should not be afraid to discuss protections with an attorney.

Our Denver family lawyers have seen the struggles of women suffering abuse and will use every legal avenue possible to protect them from their abusers.