In order to start the divorce process while representing yourself, you’ll need to complete some forms. You can obtain the forms online, from the Colorado Judicial Branch's divorce and family matters forms index. These are official forms, but you should double-check with your local court to make sure the judges there will accept them.
Be thorough and complete in responding to the questions. Fill out the forms on a computer if you can. If not, write or print neatly and legibly.
The forms you are required to complete differ depending on whether you have children and also on whether you are the petitioner (the spouse who initiates the divorce) or the respondent (the spouse who is served with divorce papers).
If you and your spouse don't have any minor children (meaning, kids who are financially dependent on you and who aren't legally emancipated), you need to use the divorce forms for self-represented parties without minor children.
If you and your spouse have minor children, you should use the divorce forms for self-represented parties with minor children. Download the following:
Filing for divorce when you have children can be more complicated, and these instructions will be very helpful as you navigate the process.
Some of the forms will vary from case to case. The instructions will explain this further. However, the petitioner will always have to complete, file, and serve the Case Information Sheet (Form JDF 1000), the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation (Form JDF 1101), the Summons for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation (Form JDF 1102), the Sworn Financial Statement (Form JDF 1111) and, if necessary, the Sworn Financial Statement, Supporting Schedules (Form JDF 1111SS).
The respondent will need to complete the Response (Form JDF 1103), the Sworn Financial Statement and if necessary, the Supporting Schedules.
Do not sign any affidavit or sworn statement on your own. Wait and take it to a court clerk or notary public, so it can be notarized.
When you’re ready, make two copies of all documents and hold onto the original. Eventually you will give the originals to the court and one copy to the respondent while keeping the last one for yourself.
As the petitioner, to initiate the divorce you must go to your local courthouse (the one where you or your spouse are living) and ask to file the documents that were outlined in the instructions you read earlier. At a minimum, you'll need to file the case information sheet, summons, and petition.
You’ll also need to pay a filing fee of $195. If you can't afford to pay, ask the clerk for a Motion to File without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit (Form JDF 205). A judge will review your affidavit and decide whether to waive (eliminate) all filing fees.
Ask the court clerk to give you two copies of everything, then assemble a packet for your spouse that includes everything you filed plus the summons, which has to be signed by the clerk. The clerk will also give you a case management order, which outlines additional requirements, deadlines, and forms you'll have to complete.
Serve your spouse as soon as possible after leaving the courthouse.
When you’ve prepared and filed your forms, you should immediately serve your spouse with the documents. Service of process is very important in the American legal system because it ensures that everyone has notice about what’s going on and an opportunity to “appear,” or argue, their point of view. Service of process ensures that no one is ever “ambushed” in a courtroom.
If your spouse is an adult who is pro se (meaning, has not hired a lawyer), then you should serve your spouse directly at the location at your spouse’s home address. If your spouse has retained a lawyer, serve the lawyer at the lawyer’s office and don’t send copies to your spouse.
If you're the petitioner and you're serving the summons and petition, special service rules apply and you must pursue one of the following options to notify your spouse that you've filed divorce papers.
Most other documents can be served by first class mail or hand delivery.
Different rules may apply if you are trying to serve someone who is hard to locate, in the military, out-of-state, or in jail. Check with your clerk of court for more information in these unusual situations.
Both spouses have to complete a Sworn Financial Statement and, if necessary, the Sworn Financial Statement with Supporting Schedules. These are statements which are "sworn" in front of a notary public that details each spouse’s financial picture, from employment to assets to liabilities and monthly expenses. This helps everyone to understand more about, for example, how much child support should be paid, or whether one spouse should receive alimony. Make sure you are clear, detailed, and candid when you complete this form. File it with the court and serve it upon your spouse as well.
Colorado Legal Services, which provides legal services to low-income Colorado residents, has a resource page devoted to helping you understand the divorce process and locate the correct divorce forms. For additional assistance, you can call one of the 14 office locations.
If you're confused about some of the terms and ideas in the forms, you can check the Colorado Judicial Branch's Domestic Glossary for help with vocabulary and legal concepts.