In January of 2000, the Colorado Supreme Court implemented what is known as the “Simplified Dissolution Project” in three Colorado counties. The project was the result of a growing dissatisfaction with the adversary process in domestic relations cases and a concern that the court system was not only failing to handle difficult cases, but was contributing to the harm to children and families. The simplified dissolution project is one of a few different types of divorce seeks to streamline the procedures for obtaining a divorce in Colorado, allowing couples to reach a faster resolution in their case and, at the same time, maximizing the limited resources of Colorado’s Judicial Branch. Since its inception, the Simplified Dissolution Project has expanded to all of Colorado’s Judicial Districts.
In simplified-dissolution cases, couples are scheduled to meet with a judge, magistrate, or court facilitator within thirty days from the filing of their case. During the initial conference, the judicial officer will explain the rules and procedures of a simplified divorce. The husband and wife may choose to be represented by an attorney, but neither party can file motions or other pleadings without permission from the court. The parties must also disclose all financial information during the early stages of the case. Formal requests for documents are prohibited unless the judge orders otherwise. If a couple disagrees on an issue in the case, such as the valuation of a home or a retirement benefit, they may choose only one expert witness. The theory is that by streamlining the procedures in a divorce, parties will be able to avoid the traditional pitfalls associated with formal discovery and expert-witness testimony; therefore, the divorce case will end faster with less impact on the entire family.