The divorce process here in Colorado definitely has steps and stages to it. The first stage is making the choice that you do want a divorce and filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. You can file that petition yourself, your spouse can file it, or you can file it jointly, either/or. It doesn’t have an advantage particularly legally one way or the other like if you’re the person that files or your spouse is the person that files. Pretty much legally it makes no difference.
There’s a slight strategic advantage if you’re the one filing because you have a little bit of control over what comes next. Needless to say, you’re not really at a disadvantage if your spouse has filed first. So you file your petition for dissolution of marriage. Then you either have to serve the other side, which required a process server of some kind or you can sit down with your spouse and they can sign a waiver of service. That determination of whether you do it one way or the other really is a strategic choice depending on so many factors of how you and your spouse get along and whether this is contentious or not and whether there’s safety issues.
There’s a number of things we would look at to determine what’s the best way to proceed with the beginning of a divorce. I want to underline that the beginning of a divorce is in indicative oftentimes of how it’s going to go. You don’t just willy-nilly decide how to start a case. You really look at what is the best way to start this case and plan for it such that hopefully you can keep contention as low as possible in your case. If there’s going to be contention no matter what, at least you keep yourself and your children safe and financially safe as well. This is a big, big issue.
It sounds like you just file a petition and serve them, but in fact how you do it can often be the thing that either has you have a decent divorce where you can be good co-parents later or what I call an escalating divorce where it just gets more and more and more contentious. You do something. It upsets them. They get defensive. They do something that upsets you. You get get defensive and it just turns into a spiral. You want to avoid that at all costs because it can essentially lead you down into lifelong resentment that doesn’t help you or your children certainly. How you file the case is an important first step.