Uncontested divorce cases may be resolved quickly with minimal court interference. The court will only need to review and process the divorce agreement made by the spouses and then issue the final decree (based on the terms of that agreement).
In contrast, contested divorce cases can be more complicated and time-consuming to resolve, due to these possible issues:
- The distinction between marital versus separate property.
- The division of the marital assets, business assets and/or marital debt.
- The validity of a pre- or post-nuptial agreement.
- Hidden assets in divorce.
- Spousal maintenance.
- Child custody and child support.
To resolve these disputes, the following steps may be taken:
- One spouse files for divorce (in the county where (s)he lives) and serves the other spouse with a copy of the divorce petition. If the spouse filing the initial divorce petition (i.e., the petitioner) lives in Denver, the divorce petition would have to be filed with the Denver District Court.
- The other spouse (i.e., the respondent) has 21 days – from the date of being served – to file a response to the divorce petition.
- Depending on the points disputed in the divorce case, the court may order the spouses to divorce mediation.
- If mediation fails to resolve the issue(s), a family court judge will set a trial date, as well as dates for discovery and various pre-trial hearings.
- At trial, each side will have the opportunity to present his or her case, arguments, and evidence.
- When both parties have finished presenting their cases, the judge will rule on each disputed issue and ultimately grant a final divorce decree.