Some people believe, or maybe hope is a better word, that when they file for divorce they will immediately, or very soon thereafter be officially divorced.
I hate to burst your bubble, but this is a misconception. Colorado has a statutory waiting period, or “cooling off” period, of 91 days. This means that your divorce will not be finalized for a minimum of 92 days from the date of service or when the Co-Petition was filed if both parties file together. Even in the absolute best case scenario, when the parties agree on everything and file all the required documents to start and finish the case at the same time, you cannot be officially divorced before the statutory waiting period has expired.
And now for a reality check: 92 days is the earliest you might be divorced. If you are part of the absolute best case scenario mentioned above, there is a chance that your divorce will be finalized and the divorce Decree will be entered on the 92nd day. However, for everyone else out there, and a majority of those who seek divorce, the process is going to be longer. In some cases much longer. Every county is different and some counties take a very long time to process their cases. Each county’s processing time depends on what their docket looks like. If they are super flooded with cases it is going to be harder to find the time needed to hear your case. If the county has a lot of cases that settle, or that don’t need to go before a judge or magistrate, then it will be easier to find the time to hear your case.
The other factor that will impact the length of your divorce process is whether the parties are cooperative. If one party does not follow court orders and motions are filed or extensions are needed, this is likely going to bump out the resolution of your case. Sometimes one party will be uncooperative with the purposeful goal of delaying the process.
There are also many horror stories out there of people waiting for years to finalize their divorce. This is usually a combination of the things mentioned above: back logged court dockets and uncooperative parties. In addition, if your case has very complicated issues, such as a very high valued estate or serious concerns for parenting time, your case is likely to take a bit more time as experts may be needed to advise the parties and the court.
Part of what makes the waiting process during a divorce so difficult is that many times one of the parties has already emotionally severed themselves from the relationship. Sometimes they have done so years before the process is ever started. For these people, even though their case is moving along, it seems as if it is taking forever because they have been emotionally divorcing the other party for a long time.
I wish I could tell you that the average case takes X months or that you can expect to be divorced by such and such time, but the truth is, the only thing I can tell you for certain is that you will not be divorced sooner than 92 days… I can tell you, as I’m sure your parents did, that “anything worth doing is worth doing right,” and we all know that doing things right takes time. If you find yourself frustrated with the legal process and feel like it is never going to end, try to remember that you do not really want a quick resolution with “cookie cutter” Orders. You want a resolution that takes into account your needs, your family’s best interests and your circumstances. Keeping this in mind will hopefully give you the patience you need in the moment and the peace you need for the future.