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You don’t need an attorney to get divorced. You can use the forms that are available online through the Colorado Supreme Court. You can get through it, but it’s kind of like asking me if you’re sick – do you need a doctor? It depends, right? If it’s a basic case – if you have a cold – then you probably don’t need a doctor. You just have to suck it up and go through it. If this is a basic divorce, then typically, you want some guidance from an attorney but you don’t need one. Now, if you have complicating factors like: disparity in incomes, or if you disagree on how to raise your children, or if you disagree as to parenting time… if you have disagreements then, yes, you need an attorney. And I think that’s probably a safe bet. It’s insurance. Attorneys are individuals that also have malpractice coverage. So, if you screw up in your divorce, you can’t sue yourself, but you can sue your attorney if there’s egregious errors. So yes, it’s always wise to hire an attorney.
They say that breaking up is hard to do. When you’ve been married for years and have children together, that verse is especially true.
When you get divorced in Colorado, you may face short-term financial challenges. You and your spouse could be transitioning from a single, two-income home to separate households with bills you need to pay on your own. You may be responsible for child support and even spousal maintenance.
With so many financial demands facing you, you may wonder if you need an attorney to get divorced in Colorado. Can you save money on legal fees by pursuing a dissolution of marriage (divorce) on your own?
In short, the answer is yes. Whether or not it’s a good idea depends on your unique circumstances.
An uncontested divorce is the simplest and least-stressful way to end your marriage. To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:
One of you files a document called an Affidavit For Decree Without Appearance Of Parties at your local District Court. The petitioning spouse then serves a copy of the affidavit on the respondent spouse. (You also have the option of filing together as co-petitioners, in which case no one needs to be served.)
You may or may not have to appear before a judge before the Decree Of Dissolution Of Marriage is issued. If you do, it’s usually because the court wants to confirm that all requirements for an uncontested divorce have been met or has concerns that the separation agreement may not be fair to both parties. In the latter case, the agreement likely contains errors that could have been avoided if you had worked with an attorney.
Even when your divorce is comparatively amicable, there’s always the possibility that you will make mistakes on the court paperwork or unknowingly compromise your rights. Paperwork errors will cause you to wait longer for the divorce to be finalized while a detrimental situation may only be changed by amending the original divorce order. That can be an expensive process, and you will definitely need an attorney.
Here are some other reasons why you should work with a lawyer.
Unless you went to law school, you won’t understand Colorado family law as well as an experienced divorce attorney. Even if you’ve been divorced before, you’re going to deal with issues that are unique to your current marriage. Consequently, you may not know how your property division agreement could affect your financial future or you could end up paying more (or asking for less) child support than necessary. A family law attorney will ensure that your rights and those of your children are protected.
You and your spouse may begin negotiations with the full intention of keeping your divorce uncontested, but all it takes is a disagreement in one key matter (property division, child custody and support, or spousal maintenance) for the proceedings to become contested. When you fail to agree, things can become hostile. An attorney will help achieve the most equitable outcome possible if this happens.
If your spouse hires an attorney and you don’t, you’ll be at a disadvantage. Even if you’re both on amicable terms, you should retain an attorney to ensure that no one takes advantage of your rights and that you leave the relationship with everything you need to move forward.
If your spouse is or becomes antagonistic, it is crucial that you hire a divorce attorney, especially if they threaten to “clean you out” financially or prevent you from seeing your children. Depending on the circumstances, you could have to seek an emergency custody order or pursue other legal measures, and you’ll need expert guidance.
At Burnham Law, our divorce attorneys are experienced in all aspects of Colorado divorce law. Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, we can help you navigate all the confusing and complicated issues that may arise. We serve clients throughout the Denver metro area and throughout the state of Colorado, so please call (303) 625-9193 or fill out a contact form to schedule a consultation.