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Ten Golden Rules For Completing Colorado Divorce and Family Law Forms

by Christopher L. Griffith, J.D., M.S., &
Lawrence F. King, J.D.,
Colorado Divorce & Family Attorneys - Mediators

Colorado divorce law allows separated couples to divorce or seek family law orders, without representation by an attorney. Some couples complete their divorce without any professional help. Other couples choose instead to resolve their divorce or family law related issues with the assistance of a mediator, often submitting their mediated agreement (called a "Memorandum of Understanding" and usually drafted by the mediator) and completing the divorce process on their own.

In both instances, specific, official Colorado divorce and family law forms must be completed.

Based upon our experience as Colorado professional mediators in working with many such couples, we offer our "Ten Golden Rules For Completing Colorado Divorce and Family Law Forms." Although written only with the official Colorado divorce law forms in mind, you may find our suggestions generally helpful to your task of completing family law and divorce forms — wherever you live.

1.  Obtain and use the current, official Colorado divorce forms.

A comprehensive list of official Colorado divorce and family law forms and instructions can be obtained on-line at the Colorado Judicial Branch's Self-Help Center.  A free, user-friendly and abbreviated list (along with other plain language resource materials) adequate for most cases may be downloaded to your computer for completion and printout, on our website's Colorado divorce forms and mediation tools page.

2.  Carefully follow the checklists provided by Court staff in choosing and completing the divorce forms required for your case.

The Order issued at the time of your case's filing or status conference generally designates (by checkmark or circling of items from a larger list) the documents required for your particular case. Carefully review it and be certain to assemble and complete all documents required by that Order before the court hearing.

3.  Complete forms by legible writing in black ink or type.

Clerks and court staff greatly appreciate your using a typewriter, or completing forms on-line (using Microsoft's Word® or Adobe's Acrobat®). If these are not available, choose someone to print legibly all required information in black ink.

4.  Provide contact information in the "Caption Box" for the party filing that form.

Most Colorado court divorce forms require contact information for the person responsible for filing that particular form, in the box labeled "Attorney(s) or Party Without Attorney". Even if you have consulted with another professional (attorney, mediator, divorce planner), provide your own personal address, phone, fax and e-mail contact information. (Of course, if you are formally represented by a lawyer, they will file all forms on your behalf.)

Please note that only one party ordinarily files certain divorce forms (for example, the Decree and the Support Order). Others such as the Colorado Sworn Financial Statement, and the Certificate of Compliance (stating you have sent the other party mandatory financial documents and disclosures) must be filed by each party. Each party must provide their own contact information for the forms they complete.

5.  Have documents notarized (when required).

Colorado divorce law requires a notary to witness your signature on many divorce forms. You may choose to sign documents before the Court Clerk staff, or use private notary services such as banks and many mailing/copying stores. Remember, you must provide the notary with valid identification, and the notary must observe you sign to "notarize" the document. Separate notaries can be used when parties sign at different times.

6.  Carefully complete separately and fully your Sworn Financial Statements.

Perhaps the most important divorce form is the Sworn Financial Statement and where appropriate, its Supporting Schedules (if you have investments such as stocks or bonds, or retirement or separate property assets). Each party must separately complete his or her form in most Colorado divorce and family law type cases.

It also helps the Court a great deal to learn you both have created an approach to support and to your own budget that will allow you to meet your reasonable expenses. Mediation (in conjunction with standardized software projections of anticipated post divorce cash flow) is one process that many couples utilize to create a plan for presentation to the court. (See, for example, our DivorceHQ article, "Keeping It Real: Mediation's Power in Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) Cases.")

Finally, each of you must disclose all property and debts acquired during your marriage on the remaining pages of your Financial Statement and its Supporting Schedules.

7.  Carefully complete a Colorado Guidelines Child Support Worksheet.

If you have children, you must complete an official Colorado Child Support Worksheet, calculating the Colorado Guidelines' recommended child support and provide written detailed explanations for any suggested deviation. It is helpful to complete this task using on-line tools (which use a spreadsheet to accurately make all calculations), at the websites listed above (in Rule 1). Caution is advised here:  there are many unofficial, miserably incomplete, inaccurate or outdated "Colorado child support calculator" tools on-line, falsely promising to calculate child support consistent with the Colorado Child Support Guidelines laws. (This is true with on-line calculators for many states' child support!)

8.  Organize all completed documents in preparation for your court hearing.

At your informal but mandatory Colorado family law status conference, you ordinarily will need to have disclosed required information to the other party, and file a completed Sworn Financial Statement and Child Support Worksheet. At your final (so-called "Permanent Orders") Colorado divorce hearing, you must have other documents as check-marked on the Order given you at the time of its scheduling. Before filing with the Court, make yourself and the other party a copy of all documents.

9.  Be considerate of Court staff and Clerks.

Divorce is stressful for you, but also for Court staff! The old adage "Honey catches more flies than does vinegar" holds true. Courtesy and respect to court personnel will likely help you a great deal in the process of completing and filing your Colorado divorce forms.

10.  Request professional assistance when needed.

Like all legal processes, divorce is challenging. Consider professional help (legal assistance, professional mediation services or other expert aid) if needed; it may cost less than you think.

© 2005 - 2006.  Divorce Resolutions®, LLC, Colorado Center for Divorce MediationTM.  All rights reserved.

Christopher L. Griffith, J.D., M.S., and Lawrence F. King, J.D.,  are full-time Denver, Colorado divorce and family law attorneys-mediators, with Divorce Resolutions®, Colorado Center for Divorce MediationTM. For more information, visit Colorado Center for Divorce Mediation's award-winning website , with its Colorado divorce law and family mediation resources, including free Colorado divorce forms and planning tools, and "Best of the Net" family and parenting resources.) See also their topical Colorado divorce law blog, DivorcePoint!, and family mediation practice blog, FamilyCraft.

Chris and Larry can be contacted by phone at (303) 650-1750, or at their Denver Divorce E-mail.

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