What You Need to Know About Serving Divorce Papers in Colorado
A person filing for divorce must follow the legal procedures required by law. Here is everything you need to know about how to serve divorce papers in Colorado.
Colorado requires an individual to have been a resident for 91 days before they can file for divorce. Part of the divorce process requires the petitioner (person filing for divorce) to serve the respondent (the other spouse) a copy of the complaint and summons. Methods of service available in Colorado include service by acceptance, service by a registered process server, service by sheriff, or service by mail/publication.
Colorado Divorce Laws
The law provides the following requirements for a divorce in Colorado:
- One of the parties has been a resident of Colorado for at least 91 days before the filing;
- The court finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken; and
- 91 days have passed since the other spouse received the summons.
If there is a minor child, the child must have lived in Colorado with a parent for at least 182 days for the court to address parental responsibilities or parenting-related issues in the divorce.
How to File for Divorce in Colorado
To begin the process of filing for a dissolution of marriage, a person can go to the Colorado Judicial Branch website to obtain the appropriate forms and instructions, which vary depending on whether or not the person shares a child with their spouse. After completing and reviewing all the necessary documents, the petitioner will file their case with the court and pay a filing fee of $230. A person who cannot afford the payment may be eligible for an automatic or income-based fee waiver. The petitioner may file their petition with a clerk at one of the court offices in the county or file using Colorado’s E-filing system.
Serving Divorce Papers in Colorado
Colorado law requires the petitioner to serve their spouse with the Petition and Summons after filing. The petitioner should serve their spouse as soon as possible as the 91-day waiting period does not begin until the other spouse is served.
There are several ways a person can serve divorce papers in Colorado:
1. Service by Acceptance
Service by acceptance requires the petitioner (or the petitioner’s friend/relative) to include a Waiver and Acceptance of Service form when giving court papers to the other party. The respondent must sign the form in front of a notary or a court clerk. The respondent’s signature on the Waiver and Acceptance of Service form indicates that they have received the court papers.
2. Service by Registered Process Server
The petitioner can hire a registered process server to give the court papers to the respondent. A process server will find the respondent and serve them the court papers at home, work, or other locations. After the process server gives the documents to the respondent, they will mail the petitioner the Return of Service form to file with the court.
3. Service by Sheriff
The petitioner can serve documents by contacting the Sheriff’s Office in the county where the respondent lives and paying a fee to have a sheriff’s deputy serve court papers to the respondent. After the sheriff serves the other party, they will mail the petitioner a copy of the Return of Service form or file the documents themselves.
4. Service by Mail or Publication
A person wanting to serve by mail or publication must file a motion with the judge to request permission. The Colorado Judicial Branch website provides the JDF 1031 form and further instructions on how a petitioner can request service by mail or publication with the court. The petitioner must show that they have made a reasonable effort to obtain personal service. If the court grants service by mail, the petitioner may mail the papers to the respondent and request a signed return receipt. If the court grants service by publication, the petitioner may publish the summons in the local newspaper. The newspaper shall publish the summons once a week for five successive weeks.