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Jurisdiction, Venue and Domestic Relations Case Process Overview

Gavel and a paper familyFirst it is important to determine where your case will be heard. Jurisdiction governs whether a particular court can hear a particular type of case. There are two types of jurisdiction - personal and subject matter. Personal jurisdiction is jurisdiction over the person. Subject matter jurisdiction is jurisdiction over the type of case. For example, in order for Colorado to have personal jurisdiction over a dissolution of marriage case, at least one of the parties must have been domiciled in Colorado for at least 91 days prior to filing for dissolution. C.R.S. § 14-10-106. As for subject matter jurisdiction, certain courts hear only certain types of cases. For example, housing courts may only hear landlord tenant and other housing matters.

Jurisdiction over the other party to a domestic relations action is determined by service of process or by co-petitioning. Service of process means that the other party is properly provided with a copy of the filed documents. Service is an important due process protection that allows both parties to an action to meaningfully participate. Co-petitioning means that both parties sign the documents that are filed with the court, thus they jointly request that the court handle the matter. Another option is for one party to file the action and for the other party to sign a Waiver of Service. This means that the responding party accepts the documents without formal service of process by a third party.

Venue governs which Colorado court to file in. There are multiple courts in every Colorado County. District courts handle domestic relations cases. Sometimes however the parties are not located in the same county. Jurisdiction is always proper in the county where the other party lives. However, generally it is possible to file a domestic relations case in the county where either party lives.

Child Custody jurisdiction, AKA allocation of parental responsibilities as Colorado refers to it, is governed by the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Act (UCCJEA). Colorado's adoption of the act is located at C.R.S. § 14-13-101. There are different provisions for initial child custody jurisdiction and for enforcement and modification. For initial jurisdiction, Colorado generally must be the home state of the child, which means that the child has lived here for the last 182 days or since birth prior to filing a court action involving the child. C.R.S. 14-13-201. However, for enforcement or modification of an order issued in another state, that order order must first be registered in Colorado. You do have to specifically ask the court to register it for purposes of enforcement or modification if that is your intent.

Roadmap to a Dissolution Case

Once you know where the case will be heard, it is important to understand how the case will flow. There are a predictable series of steps to a dissolution of marriage case. The process can be quite different for a post-decree case where a domestic relations court has already issued an initial order. For a pre-decree case where an order has not yet been issued, there is an established process:

  1. File the initiating documents, for example a Petition For Dissolution With or Without Children.
  2. Have the documents served on the other party.
  3. Prepare financial disclosures to include a sworn financial statement and a certificate of compliance that you have provided certain documents to the other party.
  4. Mediate.
  5. Prepare and Separation Agreement and/or parenting Plan.
  6. If you have resolved all issues at this point, then you can ask the court for an uncontested hearing.
  7. If you have not resolved all issues, then you can ask the court to set a contested hearing.
Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs

A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs divorce and family law matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. Give yourself the benefit of hiring one. This allows you to focus on moving on to a better future instead of spending your time attempting to navigate complex legal rules and procedures.

Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law Solutions has more than 20 years of legal experience and protects your best interests. She ensures that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 for a free 30-minute informational consultation or complete our online form.

Client Reviews
Excellent service! Sabra and her team work diligently while looking for all the little details that impact the case. Im so grateful to have found this firm. Great communication from start to finish. Also they were very patient with my lack of understanding the court process. Highly recommend! Chris Faucett
As an active duty service member I can definitely say that at Janko Family Law Solutions I was served with the utmost professionalism, in a timely and efficient manner. Very glad I discovered these experienced professionals to assist me in my legal circumstances, and I will certainly be recommending them to people in the future. Rebecca Cody
Sabra and her office are wonderful to work with! ... very knowledgeable, supportive, and compassionate during the entire process. The experience and legal expertise are evident. Tim Halladay
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