Pro Se - Do It Yourself
Last year over 50% of the people who got divorced in Colorado did it themselves. This approach is best for a childless couple, with a clear division of assets and debt and the divorce itself is uncontested.
There are advantages and disadvantages to 'Pro Se' and we have tried to summarize these here. You will also find the links to all the forms and even the formal flow chart of divorce proceedings.
If nothing is contested and you have the time then a Pro Se approach will save money. Most of the forms and processes just require good attention and careful and accurate filling out of the various forms.
You can click here to access the links we have created to the forms approved by the State of Colorado.
The best Pro Se divorces usually involve at least some professional legal counsel, if only an hour or two to make sure you are not leaving out anything really important.
There are three general conditions in which Pro Se is not your best approach:
- Divorce specifics are highly contested and/or the parties are very adversarial..
- Power imbalance between spouses
- Unrealistic or unfair Support expectations or Parenting Time expectations
If the specifics of the divorce are contested, such as how many assets one spouse contributed or how much debt should be shared then a poorly executed Pro Se divorce will create problems down the road and you can never change it, even in court, unless you can specifically prove fraud.
Often in a divorcing couple there may be a power imbalance, that is, one partner tends to be more dominant. In this kind of situation the less dominant partner may be coerced or intimidated into signing a permanent decree of divorce (that cannot be changed) because they did not know they had an alternative.
Unrealistic or unfair expectations about support amounts or term, or about Parenting Time can lead to difficult and usually expensive return visits to the court, this time with attorneys on both sides. In almost every instance, it is much more expensive to litigate changes to support or parenting time than the cost to get professional advice or help up front.
If you download the forms you need (here) and read them carefully you will see that you can probably do it yourself except the Separation Agreement and the Parenting Plan. You and your cooperative partner can fill out most of the forms (except the Separation Agreement and Parenting Plan) in a night or two.
One exception of course is the Sworn Financial Statement; the form everyone detests. The court requires that each of you prepare a separate Sworn Financial Statement and this can be time consuming. From this document the Separation Agreement is prepared based on Colorado State Law.
If you then hire a law firm to review The Separation Agreement and Parenting Plan then you can save some money and avoid almost all the pitfalls that Pro Se 'problem divorces' experience.
It is important to understand that following the entry of the decree in court the Separation Agreement can never be re-opened unless you prove fraud.
Questions? Give us a call (without obligation of course) at 303 409 3561.