Uncontested divorce in Colorado occurs when spouses agree on all aspects of their divorce – including agreements regarding the children – without resorting to litigation, lawyers going back-and-forth, or a court battle. There are three ways to reach an uncontested divorce: 1) Reaching agreements before you file for divorce and filing all your agreements at the same time as the paperwork to begin your divorce; 2) Filing for divorce and then drafting and filing your agreements shortly thereafter; or 3) Attending mediation either prior to or after filing for divorce, reaching written agreements, and filing them with the court.
If you encounter any friction, mediation is typically the best place to agree on terms, and virtually every county will require you to attend mediation unless you reach written agreements and have them filed either at the time you file for divorce or within a couple months thereafter. Having to attend mediation doesn’t necessarily mean that your divorce is contested. Mediation can be a smooth process that helps you clear the final sticking points of an uncontested divorce.
The old adage rings true when drafting your own agreements in an uncontested divorce – you don’t know what you don’t know. This can range from determining pre-marital values, the effect of gifts, being a beneficiary of a trust, or how to value a business interest. For example, what happens if your spouse is unable to refinance the mortgage on the house? What about the business line-of-credit that you co-signed? Do you know the true effect of a maintenance waiver, maintenance buyout, or contractual maintenance?
People often wrongly assume that if an attorney provides you with advice at any point in the process, your divorce becomes contested or that an attorney’s presence will automatically make it contested. Even if you agree on all aspects of your divorce, it is important to have an attorney review your final agreements to ensure that you are covering all the bases. An attorney can also provide a gut-check as to the fairness of your agreements. Ultimately, your attorney should follow your instructions with regard to their role and steer clear of unwanted or unnecessary conflict.
If you’re considering an uncontested divorce in Colorado, we can provide unbundled or limited representation to review your mandatory financial disclosures, review/revise any documents you have drafted, and then sit down with you and talk about the consequences of your agreements. While it is impossible to account for every contingency or future issue that may arise, getting some advice is better than none at all and it’s a wise investment. All too often we have clients who spend tens of thousands of dollars in litigation months or years later to correct errors that could have been easily addressed with the advice of any attorney.