Phase II of the Divorce / Legal Separation Process
Phase II of the divorce process in Colorado basically includes the parties exchanging their financial disclosures and attending an Initial Status Conference.
Colorado is a “no-fault” divorce state. What this means is that Courts will not care why you are getting a divorce (unless a parties’ actions adversely impact their children). Specifically, the Court (meaning a Magistrate or Judge who is assigned to your case) will not inquire or care if one party had an extramarital affair, as an example, or the specific reason as to why you are getting a divorce. Rather, the Court looks at the dissolution of a marriage as it might with a dissolution of a business.
They will work to determine a fair and equitable division of income, assets, and debts without consideration as to fault. To do so, the Courts will need to know what income, assets and debts the parties have in order to decide how to equitably divide the assets and debts. The Court will also review the parties’ income information and any calculations regarding spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support, if applicable to make any Orders regarding same.
The Courts rely heavily on the parties to honestly disclose to each other and to the courts their financial information. In Colorado, the parties to a divorce each must complete a:
- Sworn Financial Statement (JDF 1111, and JDF 1111SS); and
- Certificate of Compliance (JDF 1104).
These documents together are often referred to as “Mandatory Financial Disclosures.” In the Sworn Financial Statement, each party must report all of their income, expenses, debts and assets. Once both parties have provided to the other party and filed their mandatory financial disclosures into their court case, the Court has a picture of the “pie” that needs to be divided between the parties. Financial disclosures need to be completed within 42 days after filing of the initial paperwork (Summons, Petition or Co-Petition) and after the other party was served with the paperwork or signed a Waiver of Service (an Affidavit of Service or Waiver of Service must also be filed with the court).
Both parties are also required to complete a Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Financial Disclosures (JDF 1104). This document lists categories of information that the Court requires each party to share with one another. To find out what exactly needs to be shared, you should look at Form 35.1 (JDF 1125). For example, in paragraph (j) on Form 35.1, for Bank/Financial Institution Accounts, it explains that each party must share “(t)he most recent account statements identifying each account of a party at banks and other financial institutions, and stating the current value.”
Each party must complete the Certificate of Compliance, along with the completed Sworn Financial Statement, provide copies to the other party, and file these with the court (you should not file the underlying documents in each category with the court as those documents only need to be provided to the other party). In summary, each party must share with the other not only the Certificate of Compliance and Sworn Financial Statement, but also the documents required under each category.
The second part of Phase II in the divorce process is the Initial Status Conference (“ISC”). This is the Court’s first opportunity to check in with the parties to a divorce. Although each county handles their Initial Status Conferences somewhat differently, often it will be a “Family Court Facilitator” who will conduct the conference, but sometimes it will be the Magistrate or Judge assigned to your case. One of the purposes of the ISC is to make sure the parties are aware of the steps involved in the divorce process. The person conducting the ISC will make sure the parties have each completed their financial disclosures. If a party has not filed their financial disclosures, the Court will set a deadline to do so.
Additionally, at the ISC the Court will remind parties who have children that they will need to complete a co-parenting class and file a Certificate of Completion with the court as proof that they completed the class. If either party requests interim orders, they should request permission to file a Motion for Temporary Orders at the ISC. Finally, at the Initial Status Conference, the Court or a Family Court Facilitator will also discuss the third phase in the divorce or legal separation process. The third phase is how to reach a resolution regarding the issues raised in your divorce without the need to attend a court hearing, if possible. The third phase will be the topic of my next blog.
If you have any questions or concerns while handling Phase II in your case matter, please do not hesitate to contact someone from our Law Your Way program or one of our intake personnel to request to speak with any attorney who can assist with answering any questions or guide you through this or any other phase of your family law matter.