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Spotlight — feature discussing Colorado family law re legal separation & divorce decrees
Spotlight — our featured topic of family law or the mediation process in Colorado

Converting a Colorado Decree of Legal Separation, to a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage

A Colorado Divorce Law
“How-To” Divorce Form Guide


In this, our “Spotlight” feature, we discuss in detail a single issue of Colorado divorce law or the family mediation process. We periodically change our Spotlight's focus, so return soon to review other featured Colorado legal, procedural or parenting topics!

You may wish to consider our earlier Spotlight feature on Legal Separation in Colorado divorce law issues.

As always, of course, we welcome your suggestions as to new topics for future Spotlights.Suggest a future Spotlight topic!
 


Using Free Colorado Divorce Forms to Obtain a Final Decree of Dissolution ("Divorce")

Six months following a Colorado judge’s or magistrate’s entry of a legal separation (formally referred to by Colorado divorce law as a “Decree of Legal Separation”), either divorced party may follow a relatively simple process to seek a final dissolution of the marriage (commonly referred to as a “divorce” and formally known as a “Decree of Dissolution of Marriage”) in Colorado.

Although legal advice from a Colorado family law attorney may be helpful, here's the basics, in three steps, of how — using free Colorado court forms and instructions — to convert a Colorado Decree of Legal Separation into a Decree of Dissolution (Divorce).


Step 1:  Prepare Required Colorado Divorce Court Forms

The first step is to prepare three Colorado court divorce forms for the Colorado District Court Judge or Magistrate’s review. In completing these divorce forms, be sure to label yourself, and your husband or wife, as Petitioner, Co-Petitioner, or Respondent — in the same manner that you were labeled in the original Decree of Legal Separation.

Click on these to review or print. (See below for more complete instructions to access these Colorado court forms for divorce.)

Divorce Form

FORMAT

MS Word® (*.doc) Adobe® (*.pdf)
Motion to Convert
Colorado Decree of Legal Separation
MotionConvert.doc MotionConvert.pdf
Order to Convert
Colorado Decree of Legal Separation
OrderConvert.doc OrderConvert.pdf
Decree
Colorado Decree of Legal Separation OR Dissolution of Marriage
Decree.doc Decree.pdf
fillable template no longer available
Instructions to Convert
Colorado Decree of Legal Separation
InstructConvert.doc InstructConvert.pdf

*This Word® form marked with an asterisk has special fillable fields and offers special template features (use the “Tab” key to move between sections). On some computers and with some browsers, as you access this form, you may be asked for a password or login; simply “cancel” to continue or to return to our website. (Of course, you may wish to “save” your work on this special form to your own computer.)

In completing these 3 forms, consider our article with general tips on preparing and filing Colorado divorce forms, Colorado Divorce Forms:  Ten Golden Rules.

Colorado Divorce Form 1 − The MOTION to Convert Decree of Legal Separation to Decree of Dissolution

Complete this Motion

  • noting the date the Court formally granted your Colorado Decree of Legal Separation;
     
  • declaring that six months have passed since that date;
     
  • affirming that you provided your spouse with adequate notice of your desire to convert the Decree of Legal Separation into a Decree of Dissolution (meaning you have provided a copy of the three forms, i.e., the Motion, Order and Decree, discussed in this article), and
     
  • requesting restoration of a prior name, if now desired.

Colorado Divorce Form 2 − The ORDER to Convert Decree of Legal Separation to Decree of Dissolution

Upon review and finding proper notice was provided your spouse, the Judge or Magistrate issues this final Order formally converting the previously issued Decree of Legal Separation to a Decree of Dissolution (“Divorce”).

This Order includes (“incorporates” in legal expression) the provisions of your divorce. These are detailed in your Separation Agreement (commonly referred to when formalized after mediation by Colorado divorce mediators as the “Memorandum of Understanding”) and include parenting plan, child support and spousal maintenance, and property and debt division arrangements earlier agreed to by you or ordered by the Court.

You need only complete the caption (the top area of the form, reflecting your names and case number), to ready it for the Judge's use after review of your case.

Colorado Divorce Form 3 − The DECREE (your new “Divorce” version)  —  of Dissolution

Finally, complete a Decree in a manner that is consistent with the previously filed (and approved by a Colorado court) Decree of Legal Separation. This time, of course, be sure to checkmark the box reflecting this is a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage (not of Legal Separation). And, once again, enter the name sought to be restored, if appropriate.  If you have questions about the best way to complete this form, you may wish to complete just the caption and allowing the Court to complete the rest.

The signed and final version of the Decree is, of course, the court document used to verify you are divorced and, when applicable, have a legally approved change of name. (It may be useful to seek a certified copy of this Decree, by including the additional $20 document certification and $0.75 per page duplication fees for each such copy.)


Step 2:  File Court Divorce Court Forms With Filing Fee & Return Envelope

Once you have prepared the three Colorado divorce forms described above, simply forward them to the court with a filing fee of $105.00 and a return, self-addressed, stamped envelope for yourself and your spouse. To avoid delay or clerical errors, you may prefer to file these documents personally with the Domestic Relations Clerk.


Step 3:  Await Colorado Domestic Relations Court Approval & Entry of Decree of Dissolution

You're done! The Colorado Judge or Magistrate reviews these court forms and enters the signed Order officially and finally to convert your earlier granted Decree of Legal Separation to a Decree of Dissolution (“Divorce”).  In most counties, the Court Clerk will send this Order to both parties. (Because of budget constraints in some of the metropolitan Denver area courts, you may find you need to follow-up to inquire about the status of your case, if you do not timely receive this signed Order from the Court.)

Your decree is now one of Dissolution of Marriage, commonly known as a “divorce!”

As we've seen, the process in Colorado for conversion of a Decree of Legal Separation to a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage (“Divorce”) is simple, especially compared with the challenges often experienced during the initial legal separation process! (As explained in our extensive article on Legal Separation in Colorado, all the substantive choices, planning and agreements between you and your spouse have already been determined by you and concluded by the Court in that earlier process.)


For Further Colorado Divorce Forms, and Tools

For further information, see our comprehensive Colorado divorce tools and forms section and our family resources section, which includes the latest divorce research regarding child custody options emphasizing shared parenting approaches, and reviews of helpful divorce and parenting books, videotapes, support groups and online resources:

(See also our website’s section on Why Choose Mediation? for other compelling reasons to consider mediation of your divorce case or parenting dispute.)

Also consider our website's acclaimed Frequently Asked Questions and Myths resources, where we answer other questions, and debunk commonly held misunderstandings − regarding Colorado divorce laws, court procedures and alternative dispute resolution alternatives, such as family mediation.
 

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