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.

Modifying Child Custody When Moving Out of Denver, CO

If you are currently divorced and share a minor child with your ex-spouse, you likely have a parenting plan in place that allocates parental responsibilities, including important decision-making responsibilities for the child as well as parenting time, or when each parent physically cares for and spends time with the child. But what happens if you apply for and are offered a new job that requires you to move out of Denver? And does the answer to that question change if you are simply moving elsewhere in the state of Colorado as opposed to another state?

The matter of relocation can be complicated for parents in Denver, especially when the parents do not agree that a relocation is in the best interests of the child. We will discuss the process of relocation and how a parent can seek to modify parenting time.

Distance of the Move and How It Affects a Relocation

If you are simply moving to another house in the Denver city limits, or if you are moving to a nearby suburb like Holly Hills or Highlands Ranch, you likely will not need to seek permission for your relocation. However, according to Colorado law (C.R.S. § 14-10-129), when one of the parents intends to relocate with the child to a home that significantly changes the geographical ties between the child and the other parent, then the parent seeking to move must inform the other parent and begin taking steps toward a lawful relocation.

To be clear, if you want to move to a new home in the general Denver area, it is unlikely that the move would substantially change the geographical ties between your child and the other parent. However, moving farther away””whether it is to another city in Colorado that is some distance away or to another state””then you will need to do the following:

  • Provide the other parent with written notice, as soon as it is practicable, of your intent to relocate;
  • Provide the other parent with the location of where you intend to reside and your reason for the relocation;
  • Provide a proposed revised parenting time plan; and
  • Schedule a court hearing for a modification of parenting time.

Motion for a Relocation

If the other parent agrees to the modification, the process is much easier. However, if the other parent does not agree, you will need to seek permission from the court. When you seek to modify a parenting time plan in Denver with the permission of the court, you will need to file a motion for relocation. In determining whether to grant your motion, the court will decide whether the relocation is in the best interests of the child. In order to make that determination, the court will look at a number of different factors, including but not limited to:

  • Reasons you want to relocate with your child;
  • Reasons the other parent objects to the relocation;
  • History and quality of your relationship with the child since the parenting time order took effect;
  • History and quality of the other parent’s relationship with the child since the parenting time order took effect;
  • Educational opportunities for your child at your current location and at the new location;
  • Advantages for the child to remain with the primary caregiver;
  • Anticipated impact of the move on your child;
  • Whether court will be able to revise the parenting time schedule in a reasonable manner if it permits the relocation; and
  • Other factors involved in determining the best interests of the child.

While moving can be difficult on children, as an article in Psychology Today suggests, this fact alone does not mean that a relocation is not in the child’s best interests.

Contact a Denver Child Custody Attorney

If you have questions about relocation or other aspects of your parenting time plan, an experienced child custody lawyer in Denver can assist you. Contact Divorce Matters today.

When Can I Make a Divorce Plan Modification?

Once the final decree has been entered, most people believe their divorce is over. However, there are some situations in which a divorce settlement or judgment may need to be changed. Keep in mind only certain aspects of your divorce decree can be modified. Court orders involving asset and property distribution are typically unable to be altered. Learn more about when a modification to your divorce order may be appropriate.

Child Custody

Child custody and parenting time are issues that may need to be readdressed as children get older and circumstances change. Either parent may request to modify a child custody order. However, child custody and decision-making orders can only be modified every two years, unless the child’s health and/or emotional development is endangered or a custodial parent is making plans to move far away. You must be able to demonstrate that the modification is in the best interest of the child, as well as show circumstances have changed significantly since the last time the custody order was modified. Keep in mind that adjustments to parenting time may also affect your child support obligations.

Child Support

Child support payments are likely to fluctuate over the course of a child’s life. A parent’s child support obligations are based on the incomes of both parents, the amount of parenting time granted to each parent, and the needs of the child. If any of these factors change, your child support order should be modified to reflect your family’s current situation. You can submit a request to modify your child support order in the following circumstances:

  • your child has been emancipated;
  • either parent has experienced a change in income;
  • the cost of child care, health insurance, or other expenses for the child has changed; or
  • the amount of time the child spends with either parent has changed.


Alimony is awarded based on the supported spouse’s needs and the supporting spouse’s ability to pay. If either of these change, a modification may be in order. An alimony agreement might need to be altered if either spouse experiences a drastic change in his or her financial situation. For example, if the supported spouse lands a big-time job with a higher salary than that of the supporting spouse, alimony payments should probably be eliminated or reduced.

Parenting Plans

Parenting plans typically include agreements regarding visitation arrangements, as well as each parent’s support obligations. Many parents also include guidelines for communication, rules for significant others, and lifestyle decisions, such as decisions about the child’s religious observance, medical care, education decisions, and after-school activities. If both parents agree to the modification, they can jointly submit an amended parenting plan to the judge for approval. However, if a dispute between the parents cannot be settled out-of-court, the judge may grant a hearing to consider the proposed modification.

Contact a Denver Divorce Modification Lawyer Today

If you need to change your child custody, child support, or alimony order, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Divorce Matters. Call us at (720) 726-1417 or fill out the online contact form to request a consultation at our Greenwood Village or Lakewood locations.

How to Adjust Maintenance (Alimony) Obligations

If there is one constant in life, it is that life always changes. Layoffs, retirement, career changes, remarriage, changes with an aging parent, or illness””all of these can have an impact on how you live your life””and how you manage your financial obligations.  For divorced couples and parents, these changes are further complicated because of maintenance or spousal support obligations.

We work frequently with people who need to reduce their maintenance payments.  We also work with people who need to seek an increase in the maintenance they receive.  The need to change these payments stems from job loss, career change, remarriage, caring for an aging parent or the fact that the children from the marriage have gotten older.  Maintenance modifications are as much a fact of life as constant change.

Maintenance Defined

In Colorado, maintenance refers to spousal support which used to be called alimony.  Spousal support or maintenance is usually involved in a case that involves a long-term marriage or a case where one spouse has been able to make significantly more than the other, as in the case of a stay-at-home parent.

Whether or not one is entitled to maintenance initially is governed under §14-10-114 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.  An initial award of maintenance is not always required in a divorce, and a determination of entitlement (amount and duration) is case specific.  When maintenance is awarded or agreed upon as part of a divorce, all terms regarding the amount and duration are specified.

Substantial and Continuing Change

According to §14-10-122 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.), maintenance is modifiable only if there has been a substantial and continuing change.  However, you should be aware that if you and your spouse or former spouse entered into an agreement regarding the payment of maintenance, whether or maintenance is modifiable will be determined solely on the provisions of that agreement, regardless of whether or not there has been a substantial and continuing change.

So, for example, if your agreement specifically states that “maintenance is contractual and non-modifiable” the Court will not have jurisdiction to modify maintenance even if something has changed in your life.  Even if you are not bound by an agreement, the courts may not consider the change in your life to be a “continuing” change and may decline to modify maintenance. From the court’s perspective, some life obstacles are bumps in the road that are only temporary, such as lack of employment, as your finances will (hopefully) revert back to levels similar to when you negotiated you maintenance agreement.

For the court to approve a maintenance modification, you must be able to prove that the change to your financial situation is not only significant but ongoing. While temporary unemployment is not considered ongoing, income loss from a disability often is.

Taking the First Steps

The first step is to determine whether your maintenance can be modified.  In some divorces, the maintenance obligation cannot be modified.  If the maintenance obligation can be changed, you need to determine whether there has been a substantial change that would support a change.

So what should you do if your finances have changed substantially and you can no longer meet your maintenance responsibilities?

  • Collect the right information. When you apply for modification, you will need to complete a current Sworn Financial Statement, just as you did during the divorce process. Some information that will be helpful to you while completing this statement include:
    • Tax returns from the past three years
    • W-2 or 1099s from last year
    • Current paystub
  • Refer back to your original divorce agreements. As mentioned earlier, in some divorces, the couple agrees during the divorce process that all maintenance obligations are unchangeable. One of your very first steps should be to understand what you originally agreed to. You should speak to an attorney for legal advice.
  • If you have already missed payments, pay back as much as possible as soon as possible””even if it is not the full amount. Try to demonstrate to the courts that you are making an effort to catch up on your payments, even while seeking a better maintenance agreement. If you make no payments, you may be considered uncooperative, which may reflect poorly on you during the modification process.
  • Seek legal advice. Some maintenance agreements may not be modified, but in many cases if you can prove that your financial situation has drastically changed, it may be feasible. An attorney will be able to clarify your options. Also, because maintenance is not decided based on a formula, legal representation can help you maneuver the sticky, subjective areas in the law.  The most important thing you can do is to act immediately and not wait.  Modifications can only be applied back to the date that you file with the court requesting a modification of maintenance.  Courts may also look at the length of time that you waited to address the issue as part of determining whether or not the change is substantial.  The longer you wait, the less effective your argument becomes that your life change was substantial.


Changes are going to happen in life, and when those changes affect whether or not you can continue to make your maintenance support payments, it is vital to understand what your rights and responsibilities are and to clarify all options. You will only have an opportunity at being successfully in modifying maintenance if you can prove that your situation has changed drastically and that the change is ongoing””such as being laid off because of an injury or illness or retirement ””so you need to know exactly where you stand.