Additional Resources & Information - Legal
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q U R S T U V W X Y Z
- A -
- ACTION: A lawsuit or proceeding in a court
- AFFIDAVIT: A written statement of facts,
made voluntarily, and confirmed by oath or affirmation of the
party making it.
- AGREEMENT: A verbal or written resolution
between both parties regarding disputed issues.
- ANSWER: The written response to a complaint,
petition, or motion.
- ALIMONY: Former term meaning the payment
of support provided by one spouse to the other. Spousal support
payments are more commonly referred to as maintenance.
- ALIAS SUMMONS: A second summons, which is
issued when the original is defective in form or manner of service.
The alias summons will supercede the first summons so that the
parties may proceed with the case.
- ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION: A method
for settling disputes by means other than litigation. Common
forms of alternative dispute resolution include mediation and
arbitration. These procedures are usually less costly and more
expeditious and are increasingly being used in divorce actions
and other disputes that would likely otherwise involve court
- ANNULMENT: A marriage can be dissolved in
a legal proceeding by which the marriage is declared void, as
though it never took place. In the eyes of the law, the parties
were never married. Grounds and procedures for annulment of marriage
vary between the states and may available only under certain
- APPEAL: A legal action where the losing party
requests that a higher (i.e. appellate) court review the decision
of the lower (i.e. trial) court.
- ARBITRATION: Arbitration is a process of
dispute resolution in which a neutral third party renders a decision
after a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to
present their case. Often times the parties may select their
own arbitrator who has the power to render a binding decision.
Arbitration is intended to avoid the formalities, delay and expense
of ordinary litigation.
- B -
- C -
- CHILD SUPPORT: In Colorado, child support
is a right belonging to the minor child and a legal obligation
of either or both parents. The determination of child support
is based upon statutory guidelines and includes factors such
as the financial resources of the parties and the needs of the
- CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES: Colorado has child
support guidelines, which must be followed in awarding child
support. The guidelines are a formula found in the statutes.
Each parent must fill out a Financial Affidavit whose figures
are used in formula. The court will review the figures on the
worksheet and apply the guidelines before entering a child support
order. There are only a few circumstances when the court can
award child support higher or lower than the guidelines.
- CIVIL RESTRAINING ORDER: The Court will automatically
issue a temporary restraining order upon the filing and service
of every petition for dissolution of marriage or legal separation.
The automatic restraining order prevents either party from concealing
or disposing of marital property, disturbing the peace of the
other party, removing the minor children from the State of Colorado
without consent, and terminating any insurance policy under which
the other party is covered, including health and automobile insurance.
- COMPLAINANT: The one who files the suit,
same as a Petitioner.
- COMMON LAW MARRIAGE: A common law marriage
comes about when a man and woman who are free to marry hold themselves
out as husband and wife without the formal ceremony. To be common
law married, the spouses must exhibit habits common to a married
relationship and they must have the reputation of husband and
wife in the community. Colorado courts recognize common law marriages.
- COMPLIANT: The legal paper that starts a
case. The document is known as a Petition in a Dissolution of
- CONTEMPT: Failure to follow a court order.
A party who resists or fails to obey the Court’s orders
can be held in contempt. The punishment for contempt may include
a fine, sanction, or even imprisonment under extreme circumstances.
- D -
- DECISION MAKING RESPONSIBILITIES: Decision
Making Responsibilities is the term adopted by the Colorado Legislature
in 1999 to replace the old theory of “sole” or “joint” custody
- DECLARATION OF INVALIDITY: A declaration
of invalidity is entirely different from a divorce or legal separation.
A declaration of invalidity is sought in those limited situations
when a spouse alleges that the marriage never existed, that the
marriage was based on an invalid contract, or the marriage was
prohibited altogether under Colorado law.
- DECREE: A Decree of Dissolution or Legal
Separation is entered at the conclusion of each divorce action,
but no sooner than 90 days following the filing of the Petition.
The decree contains references to any agreements reached between
the parties as well as provisions regarding any requested name
changes. A decree may be entered by non-appearance (without a
formal hearing) if both parties are represented by counsel and
all issues have been agreed upon.
- DEFAULT: A party's failure to appear in court
or to answer a complaint, motion, or Petition.
- DEFENDANT: The person the case is brought
against, same as Respondent.
- DEPOSITIONS: Each side has the right to take
depositions of the parties and witnesses who might appear at
the hearing. During a deposition, the opposing attorney will
ask questions about the circumstances surrounding case. The answers
are given under oath. A party may have an attorney present during
the deposition to provide assistance and advice during questioning.
- DISCOVERY: Discovery describes the pre-trial
stages of a case when the parties obtain facts and information
from each other. Under the Rules of Civil Procedure, the “tools” of
discovery include: depositions, interrogatories, requests for
production, and physical and mental examinations. The goal of
discovery is to learn information necessary in a case, which
is in the exclusive control of the other party.
- DISSOLUTION: The legal end of a marriage,
same as entry of the decree.
- E -
- EXPERTS: A case may involve the participation
of one or more persons known as “experts” who are
knowledgeable in a special field related to the subject of the
case. An expert is qualified to speak authoritatively and to
offer a technical or professional description of the specific
issues. An expert may also offer their opinion of the issues
in a case.
- F -
- FILING: Giving the clerk of Court your legal
papers for inclusion in the file or review by the judicial official.
- G -
- GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE: The legal basis for a
divorce. Colorado applies the theory of “no fault” divorce,
whereby a party needs only to allege that the marriage is irretrievably
broken in order to proceed with the divorce. The laws of some
states set out specific reasons for a divorce, which must be
proven before the court can grant a divorce.
- H -
- I -
- INTERROGATORIES: After a case is filed in
court, each side has a right to submit written questions to the
other side. The questions are called interrogatories and must
be answered by the receiving party under oath.
- J -
- JUDGMENT: The official decision of a court
regarding the respective rights and claims of the parties involved
in the case.
- JURISDICTION: The power of the court to decide
a matter, including its control over the subject matter and the
- K -
- L -
- LEGAL SEPARATION: A party may seek a legal
separation as an alternative to divorce. A legal separation operates
in the same manner as a divorce; however, in a legal separation
the marriage is not legally dissolved. In a legal separation,
a party’s rights as a spouse are maintained.
- M -
- MANDATORY DISCLOSURES: In every case, a party
has a duty to disclose certain information to the other side
pursuant to the Rules of Civil Procedure. Under these “mandatory
disclosures” a party must provide a complete financial
affidavit showing current income and expenses, a copy of personal
and business tax returns, pay stubs or statements of earnings,
tax returns for any business or partnership in which the party
is involved, and any information relating to a pension, profit
sharing, or retirement plan. The mandatory disclosures must be
made within the required time period.
- MARITAL AGREEMENTS: Marital agreements, also
known as “ante nuptial agreements” are generally
entered into by people about to be married in an attempt to resolve
issues of support, distribution of wealth, and property division
in the event of the death of either party or the dissolution
of their marriage. Marital agreements must satisfy certain elements
to be valid and they are scrutinized for their effect on certain
rights of party.
- MARITAL PROPERTY: Includes all property acquired
during the marriage, even if it is not titled in both names,
with limited exceptions.
- MAGISTRATE: Hears cases like a judge but is
limited to the issues that he/she may review. A master's decision
is binding but may be reviewed by a judge before submission for
- MEDIATION: Mediation is a method of alternative
dispute resolution, which is sometimes used to resolve the parties’ dispute.
In mediation, both sides submit their dispute to an impartial
person who assists them in trying to reach a mutual agreement.
Mediation can be a cost-effective way to resolve specific issues
or the entire case.
- MODIFICATION OF ORDERS: At some point following
the entry of the divorce decree, a party may seek the modification
of orders previously entered by the Court. Orders commonly modified
in a post-decree action include: parenting time orders, support
orders, and orders for maintenance. The most common basis for
modifying an existing order is changed circumstances.
- MOTION: A written or oral request to the
- N -
- O -
- P -
- PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES: In all cases involving
minor children, the Court will make a determination of the allocation
of parental responsibilities, including decision making responsibility,
and parenting time. The criterion applied in the Court’s
determination is “the best interests of the child(ren).”
- PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES EVALUATION: The
Court, at its own discretion or upon the request of a party,
may order a Parental Responsibilities Evaluation in cases with
minor children. The evaluation is performed by a licensed mental
health professional who files a written report regarding disputed
parental responsibilities issues. While a parental responsibilities
evaluation is not determinative of the outcome of a case, it
is relied upon heavily by the judge in issuing the final orders.
- PARENTING TIME: The Colorado General Assembly
has recognized that, in most cases, it is in the best interests
of the children of the marriage to have a relationship with each
of their parents. To facilitate this goal, the court will examine
the dynamics of the parent-child relationship and enter an order
for parenting time. The determination of a parenting time schedule
is based on what is in the best interests of the child(ren).
- PERMANENT ORDERS: When a marriage is dissolved,
both parties either agree to or are subject to orders, which
contain certain obligations and commitments. Often times, these
obligations are determined in Court at a “Permanent Orders
Hearing”. Honoring and enforcing what was determined at
the hearing is necessary to maintaining the full effect of the
parties’ agreement or court orders. Therefore, the Court
holds the parties accountable for fulfilling all of the obligations
and commitments made between the parties or entered as an order
of the Court.
- PETITION: The legal paper that starts a divorce
- PETITIONER: The person who started the case.
- PRO SE PERSON: Representing yourself in court
without an attorney.
- PROPERTY DIVISION: In every action for dissolution
of marriage, the Court will address the division of property
and debt. Property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the
marriage and prior to the entry of a decree of legal separation
or dissolution is presumed to be marital property regardless
of how the property is titled or held. Additionally, any increase
in the value of separate property during the marriage is considered
to be marital property subject to division. Also included in
the division of marital property is the allocation of marital
- Q -
- R -
- RECONCILIATION: The parties’ attempt
to repair the marital relationship.
- REQUEST FOR DOCUMENTS: During the discovery
period of a case, a party may request supporting documents from
the other party. The requested documents may include tax returns,
insurance policies, bank statements, or any other documents,
which are relevant to the issues in the case and not protected
by the attorney-client privilege.
- RESTRAINING ORDERS: A party who has been
a victim of abuse by the other party may request a temporary
restraining order at any stage of the litigation. A temporary
restraining order can prevent a party from threatening or injuring
or even contacting the other party or the minor children. In
some cases a temporary restraining order may be sought to exclude
a party from the shared residence or family home. In cases involving
children, the temporary restraining order may address temporary
care and control of the children as well as arrangements for
parenting time. A temporary restraining order can be made permanent
by serving the other party with notice and holding a hearing.
- S -
- SEPARATION AGREEMENT: Some divorce actions
may involve issues that are agreed upon by both parties. Additionally,
negotiations in a case may result in an amicable settlement of
all the issues. In these situations, which result in a fair and
equitable agreement between the parties, the terms of the their
agreement may be set forth in one document which will be entered
as part of the final decree. A settlement agreement entered in
a decree is enforceable as an order of the court.
- SERVICE OF PROCESS: After a case is filed
in the Court, the non-filing party must be served with a copy
of the Summons and Complaint. Serving these pleadings notifies
the party of the pending matter and affords him/her the opportunity
to appear and be heard. A non-filing party who is aware of the
pending action and is willing to cooperate may accept service
by signing a “waiver of service.” Rules relating
to service of process also apply to all subsequently filed pleadings
- SETTLEMENT NEGOTIAIONS: Many parties to a
dissolution of marriage action reach a mutual agreement through
negotiation of the pending issues. During negotiations, an attorney
must advise a party of any settlement discussions and offers.
- SPECIAL ADVOCATE: The Court, at its own discretion
or upon the request of a party, may appoint a Special Advocate
to assist with the determination of parental responsibilities
in cases with minor children. The Special Advocate is an expert,
usually an attorney or mental health professional, who investigates
the circumstances surrounding a case and makes recommendations
that affect the child’s best interests. While a Special
Advocate’s report is not determinative of the outcome of
a case, it is relied upon heavily by the judge in issuing the
- SPOUSE: Either husband or wife.
- SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE: Spousal Maintenance
may be ordered by the Court if a spouse lacks sufficient property
to provide for his/her reasonable needs. Several factors go into
the Court’s decision to grant an award of maintenance and
the determination of the amount of that award. The factors include
a party’s inability to provide for themselves and the other
party’s ability to pay. An award of maintenance may be
temporary or may be ordered for an indefinite period of time.
- SUBPOENA: A form issued by the court requiring
someone to appear in court and/or tender documents to the other
- T -
- TEMPORARY ORDERS: After a case is filed, a
party may request temporary orders. A temporary order is an interim
arrangement while the case is pending which covers the payment
of debt, the use of property, payment of maintenance, payment
of child support, and parental responsibilities. The purpose
of a temporary order is to maintain a party’s standard
of living until the permanent orders are entered.
- U -
- UCCJEA: Some cases involve parties and children
who reside in different states. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction
and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was adopted to set clear guidelines
as to which state has jurisdiction over a custody proceeding
when problems arise. The UCCJEA covers all cases involving child-custody,
including: “divorce, legal separation, parenting time,
grandparent visitation, neglect, abuse, dependency, guardianship,
paternity, and termination of parental rights. Under the UCCJEA,
states must recognize and enforce any child-custody determination
issued by another state if the order complies with the jurisdictional
rules of the Act.
- UNCONTESTED DIVORCE: When a party elects
not to dispute any of the issues in their case.
- V -
- VENUE: The county where the case is filed
and heard. Normally the county in which one or either of the
- W -
- WRITE OF SUMMONS: A form issued by the court
directing a party to respond to a complaint, motion, or petition.
- X -
- Y -
- Z -
Colorado Divorce Info