Are you thinking about filing for divorce or custody? But the idea of going to court has you feeling nervous or scared? Going to family court can be a stressful process. However, breaking down the process in easy to follow steps and having an experienced person by your side can make it much easier.
Here are the basic steps for getting divorce or custody orders in Colorado.
Step 1: Draft your initial court forms and file
In order to start any civil or domestic case in Colorado, you will need to fill out the initial forms required by the court. Depending on what you are filing these will vary. It can be difficult to determine which forms you need, as every case is unique. Additionally, each county courthouse will have different rules on what is required. Once you have your forms completed, you will take them to the clerk’s window in the courthouse that is in the county you live, or the county the child lives, depending on your situation. Each case type has a different filing fee that will be required when you turn in your forms. For example, a divorce case in Colorado cost $230, a custody case in Colorado (referred to as Allocation of Parental Responsibilities) cost $222.
Step 2: First Court Appearance
Depending on the county you are filing in, your first court appearance will be with the Family Court Facilitator for an Initial Status Conference or with the Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator for an Orientation. At this appearance you may be required to complete or turn-in the rest of your required court forms, therefore you will want to make sure you have them prepared.
Step 3: Mediation
If, at your Initial Status Conference, you and the other party in your case (spouse/parent) are not in agreement on your joint court forms, the court will order you to mediate. Mediation is a structured and interactive process where a neutral third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict using specialized communication and negotiation techniques. Mediation is at the expense of the parties and the cost varies depending on what mediator you hire.
Step 4: Additional Court Appearances
After your first court appearance and mediation, your case will begin to follow its own track, depending on your unique situation. The Family Court Facilitator and/or court staff will explain the process to you and what, if any, additional forms the court may require you to file.
Other things to keep in mind: These steps are meant to be very general to the State of Colorado. Each county will have its own process and procedures that may vary from these steps.
Feeling lost? Don’t know where to start? Let us help you! Contact The Legal Quill today to meet with our intake specialist.