In order to start the divorce process while representing yourself, you'll need to complete divorce forms. You can obtain these forms online from the Colorado Judicial Branch's divorce and family matters forms index. Although these are official Colorado forms, individual counties may have additional requirements. You should double-check with your local court clerk about your county's rules before filing.
When completing your forms, answer each question thoroughly and honestly. If you're able, fill out the forms on your computer. If you can't access a computer to complete your forms, be sure to write or print neatly and legibly.
The forms you're required to complete differ depending on whether you have children and also on whether you are the petitioner (the spouse who requests the divorce) or the respondent (the spouse who is served with divorce papers). See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-107 (2019).
If you and your spouse don't have any minor children (meaning, kids who are financially dependent on you and/or who aren't legally emancipated), you need to use the divorce forms for self-represented parties without minor children.You'll also need to download and/or complete the following forms:
If you and your spouse have minor children, you should use the divorce forms for self-represented parties with minor children.You'll also need to complete the following forms:
When you're ready, make two copies of all documents and hold onto the original. You will file the originals with the court. The respondent will receive one copy of the divorce petition, and you'll keep the other copy for yourself.
As the petitioner, to initiate the divorce you must go to your local courthouse (the courthouse located in the county where you or your spouse reside). At a minimum, you'll need to file the case information sheet, summons, and petition to begin your case.
You'll also need to pay a filing fee. If you can't afford to pay the fee, 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 or eliminate your 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. You'll need to serve your spouse with the documents as soon as possible.
Once you've prepared and filed your forms, you should immediately serve your spouse with the documents. You can accomplish service in a variety of ways. First, your spouse may agree to cooperate and accept service of the divorce petition without a lawyer. If your spouse has agreed, you may hand deliver or mail the divorce documents to your spouse. Your spouse should sign an Acceptance of Service for you to file with the court.
If your spouse doesn't agree to sign an acceptance of service, then you should hire a process server to hand your spouse divorce papers at home or work. A process server may be a sheriff, private process server, or non-party over the age of 18. The process server must complete an affidavit certifying that your spouse has been served. You'll need to file this document with the court. If your spouse has retained a lawyer, you may deliver the documents to the lawyer's office.
Different rules may apply if you're trying to serve a spouse with unknown whereabouts, a spouse in the military, a spouse who lives internationally, or if your spouse is in jail. Check with your clerk of court for service rules in these unique situations.
Both spouses have to complete a Sworn Financial Statement and, if necessary, the Sworn Financial Statement with Supporting Schedules. These documents detail each spouse's financial picture (including income, assets, liabilities, and monthly expenses) and are "sworn" in front of a notary public.
Financial declarations help judges and spouses determine how much child support should be paid, or whether one spouse should receive alimony. You should be truthful and thorough when you complete this form.
Colorado Legal Services (CLS) provides legal services to low-income Colorado residents offers online resources to help you navigate the divorce process. For additional assistance or to see if you qualify for legal assistance, you can apply online here or contact one of the 14 CLS offices across the state (as of 2019).
If you're confused about some of the terms and ideas in the forms, you can review the Colorado Judicial Branch's Domestic Glossary for help with vocabulary and legal concepts.