Phase One of Your Divorce or Legal Separation
Phase one in the divorce process requires completing the necessary paperwork, filing the completed forms with the court, and having your spouse served so that he / she is notified of the proceeding.
The first thing you must do when filing for a divorce or legal separation is to complete the required paperwork. If you and your spouse are in agreement regarding filing for divorce / legal separation and your spouse is willing to sign the initial paperwork prior to filing it with the court, there are only two forms that need to be completed. All forms can be found on the Court’s website located at www.courts.state.co.us. The forms that you will need to complete are the:
- Domestic Case Information Sheet (JDF 1000); and
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage / Legal Separation (JDF 1101).
You will only need to sign the Domestic Case Information Sheet, but both you and your spouse will need to sign the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage/Legal Separation.
Each form that you file with the court will have a “heading” or “caption”. This is located at the top of all the forms and should be completed the same for every form you complete. You, the person who is filing and initiating the process, are the Petitioner. Your spouse will be designated the Co-Petitioner / Respondent. When completing the form, you should designate the parties as such by writing your complete name after “Petitioner”, and your spouse’s complete name after “Co-Petitioner / Respondent”.
If your spouse is not agreement with proceeding with the filing of divorce / legal separation, you will need to complete only the “heading” on the Summons for Dissolution of Marriage / Legal Separation (JDF 1102) as well as the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage / Legal Separation and Domestic Case Information Sheet. When you file your paperwork with the court, the Court Clerk will complete the Summons, by signing the second page.
After completing the necessary paperwork, you should file the paperwork with your local District Court. The cost of filing for a divorce is $230.00. If both parties have not signed the Petition the spouse not doing so will need to file a Response (JDF 1103). The cost to file a Response is $116.00. If both parties have signed the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage/Legal Separation, no Response is needed.
If only one person signed the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage / Legal Separation, you will need to have your spouse served. You can do so by hiring a private process server, having the Sherriff’s department serve your spouse, or having your spouse sign a “Waiver and Acceptance of Service” form [JDF 1102(a)]. You can find names of process servers in your area by looking on the internet. You should ask the potential process server the cost of the service, how many attempts they will make to serve your spouse, and whether they will complete and file the Return of Service with the Court. Generally, the cost to have someone serve runs around $50.00. The Sheriff’s Department generally charges around the same amount. If you are wanting to use the Sheriff’s Department, you should first call the Sherriff Department in the County where your spouse resides. You will need to ask for the “Civil Process” department. You will need to ask what they need to complete service on your spouse. Often private process servers or the Sherriff’s Department will want a photo, description of your spouse, information about their vehicles as well as a good time/place to have them served.
Alternatively, if your spouse is not willing to sign the Petition yet does not want to go through the potential embarrassment / cost to be served, they may be willing to sign a “Waiver and Acceptance of Service” form [JDF 1102(a)]. You will need to complete the caption and list the papers that you have provided your spouse on that form. Your spouse will then need to sign indicating that he accepts the papers instead of being served. Your spouse’s signature will need to be notarized before filing this form with the court.
At times, the Dissolution of Marriage Process can be overwhelming. The Harris Family Law office is here to help. Through our “Law Your Way” program, we have attorneys available to assist you if you choose to do your own divorce. This program allows you to pay for an attorney to assist you on an hourly basis. If you prefer to reduce your stress and workload, we have many skilled, experienced attorneys who can do the work for you.