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Cost of Divorce in Colorado

How much is a divorce in Colorado? Read on for everything to know about what impacts the cost of divorce in Colorado.

evident Editorial Team
April 2, 2024
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The cost of divorce is a significant concern for many individuals navigating the complexities of the process in Colorado. Questions such as, "How much is a divorce in Colorado?" often loom large during this challenging period.

Though providing an exact cost estimate is challenging, several common factors influence divorce costs in Colorado. By gaining insight into these factors, individuals can alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty that are part of the divorce process.

In this article, we will:

  • Explore the factors that influence the cost of divorce in Colorado
  • Share data on the average cost of divorce in the state 
  • Highlight resources for those seeking lower-cost divorce alternatives
Key Takeaways

What is the average cost of a divorce in Colorado?

According to USA Today, the average cost of divorce in Colorado is around $14,500 for cases without children and approximately $21,700 for divorces with children. 

But each divorce is unique, so the actual cost of a divorce in Colorado can vary significantly depending on the particular circumstances involved.

What affects the cost of divorce in Colorado?

So, how much is a divorce in Colorado? Certain key factors influence how expensive a divorce will be in the state.

Those factors include:

  • Filing fees and court costs
  • Attorneys’ fees
  • How complicated the divorce is
  • How contentious the divorce is

Let’s begin by looking at some of the concrete numbers that impact divorce costs.

Colorado Divorce Filing Fees and Court Costs

Court filing fees for divorce in Colorado are typically $230 to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. There is then a $116 fee to serve a Response if the party who did not file first chooses to file one. 

There is generally also a service fee to have the divorce papers served on your spouse. Service fees can be around $50-$70. There is no fee for service, though, if you and your spouse file jointly (such as in an uncontested divorce). 

Additional filing fees and court costs will be associated with filing any other divorce paperwork with the court. You should confirm the applicable court fees for the court in which your divorce is filed.

Fee waivers in Colorado

Fee waivers are available for those who are unable to pay the Colorado divorce filing fees. 

 Automatic fee waivers are available for those who can prove they receive certain types of benefits (such as SSI or Aid to the Needy and Disabled) using this form.

 Income-based fee waivers use a different form but are also available for people whose income is below 125% of the poverty line.

How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Colorado?

One of the biggest expenses that can increase the cost of divorce in Colorado is attorneys’ fees. 

To understand how much it costs to hire a Colorado divorce attorney, it's important to first understand how they charge for their services.

Divorce Lawyer Fee Structures

The two main ways that Colorado divorce attorneys are likely to charge for their services are either with an hourly rate or a fixed fee arrangement. 

If a Colorado attorney charges an hourly rate, they bill their client based on the time they spend working on the case. Attorneys who use hourly rates often request a retainer fee upfront. 

If a Colorado attorney charges a flat fee, they will quote a fixed amount for their services upfront. 

Attorney billing methods pros and cons

Which billing method makes sense for your case can depend on your preferences, the lawyer’s preferences, as well as the particular circumstance. For example, flat fees often work better for uncontested divorces where the attorney can more accurately predict how much time they will spend on the case. Meanwhile, hourly rates often make more sense for contested divorces where it can be difficult to predict the work involved from the outset.

Average Hourly Rates For Colorado Divorce Lawyers

The average hourly rate for Family Law attorneys in Colorado is approximately $310 per hour. (Note that divorce is a subsection of the legal practice area of Family Law). 

But remember, this is just an average, and actual hourly rates can vary based on numerous factors (e.g. the lawyer's experience, where they’re based, etc.). For example, big cities such as Detroit may have higher average costs for divorce lawyers than other parts of Colorado.

And remember, the time a divorce lawyer spends working on your case can have a greater impact on the total cost of divorce in Colorado than their hourly rate. (For instance, consider $300 x 5 hours for $1,500 in attorney fees vs. $250 x 20 hours for $5,00).  

How Complicated The Divorce Is

Generally, the more complex a divorce is, the more expensive it will be. 

A critical difference to bear in mind is whether the divorce is uncontested or contested, as uncontested divorces typically unfold with less complexity and, as a result, incur lower legal costs than contested ones.

That said, it's important to recognize that even within the realm of contested divorces, a wide spectrum of outcomes exists. To get a better sense, we’ll explain the difference between the two types of divorce and then explore some of the other factors that influence complexity.

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce in Colorado

Uncontested divorces are those in which both spouses mutually agree on all divorce-related issues, including alimony, child custody, child support, and property division. 

Uncontested divorces are usually faster, simpler, and less expensive than contested divorces. Indeed, the cost of an uncontested divorce in Colorado is often limited to court costs and filing fees if the parties can reach an agreement and avoid hiring lawyers.

Meanwhile, contested divorces are when the parties cannot agree on one or more divorce-related issues. The costs of a contested divorce can still vary greatly, though, based on how many unresolved issues there are and how hotly they're contested. (For instance, is there a minor disagreement about how to share joint custody, or are the spouses in a full-fledged custody battle?).

What makes a Colorado divorce more complicated?

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So, what makes a divorce more complicated? Here are a few of those factors:

  • Minor children:  Divorces that involve minor children can be more complicated due to issues related to child custody and child support, which have to be addressed.
  • Alimony:  Alimony is not an issue in every divorce, but it requires an additional calculation (or negotiation) when it does come up.
  • Large or complicated marital estates:  Substantial or complex marital assets, like ownership interests in companies, are generally more complicated and raise issues like valuation or the need for appraisals.

How Contentious Your Colorado Divorce Is

Although uncontested divorces are generally more cost-effective, they may not be feasible for every couple. Even in cases where an uncontested divorce isn't achievable, it's often helpful to take a collaborative approach and aim for cooperation with your former spouse.

One strategy for limiting the expenses associated with a contentious divorce involves engaging in divorce mediation or other collaborative divorce processes. Through mediation, you and your ex-spouse can collaborate with a neutral third-party mediator to facilitate negotiations and discover mutually acceptable resolutions. This method significantly reduces the need for protracted court battles and exorbitant attorney fees, which is where divorces can really get expensive.

Although it can be challenging to set aside personal differences during a divorce, focusing on the benefits of a cooperative approach can ultimately result in a more cost-effective and less acrimonious divorce process.

Additionally, seeking guidance from a qualified divorce attorney who specializes in collaborative methods can provide valuable insights and ensure your interests are protected throughout the divorce proceedings.

Lower-Cost Options for Divorce in Colorado

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There are resources and lower-cost alternatives available to help reduce legal expenses for people who have concerns about the cost of divorce in Colorado. 

One option is limited-scope representation in which a divorce attorney can assist you with specific aspects of your case without representing you the full scope of your case. For instance, you could hire a divorce lawyer to review your marital settlement agreement or accompany you to divorce mediation without representing you in all aspects of your divorce. 

For people who meet the income eligibility requirements, Legal Aid organizations are another valuable resource. Colorado Legal Services helps qualifying individuals throughout the state. 

And remember, fee waivers may be available if you cannot afford the Colorado divorce filing fees. 

FAQs About the Cost of Divorce in Colorado

How long does it take to get a divorce in Colorado?

The timeline of a Colorado divorce depends on several factors, many of which overlap with the factors that influence the cost. 

At a high level, uncontested divorces can be finalized more quickly than contested divorces, often within a few months. Contested divorces, meanwhile, often take closer to a year or more, but the length depends on how many things are in dispute and how much they are contested. 

Everything from the court’s schedule to the complexity of the unresolved issues can impact the duration of the divorce process. Consider speaking with an experienced attorney if you have questions about the specifics of your own case. 

What is the cheapest way to file for divorce in Colorado?

The cheapest way to file for divorce in Colorado is to jointly file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in an uncontested divorce. 

Uncontested divorces are generally cheaper than contested divorces, and filing jointly saves the cost of either party having to file a Response, which has its own filing fee. 

But this is easier said than done for some because divorcing spouses often have disputes, and uncontested divorce is not always a realistic option. 

Separately, keep in mind that fee waivers are available for those specifically concerned about the filing fees and court costs. 

The Final Word on the Cost of Divorce in Colorado

So, how much does a divorce cost in Colorado? Let’s recap the main takeaways. 

The average cost of a divorce in Colorado is $14,500 for divorce cases without children and $21,700 for divorces involving children.

But actual costs can be much greater or lower than these averages, and factors such as filing fees, court costs, attorneys' fees, the complexity of your divorce, and the level of contention involved all affect the overall cost of divorce in Colorado.  

An experienced Colorado divorce lawyer can provide valuable expertise, but if cost concerns arise, there are alternative options available. Limited-scope representation and Legal Aid organizations can offer more affordable alternatives to hiring a divorce attorney in certain situations. 

If you speak with a Colorado divorce lawyer, be sure to ask these questions during the initial consultation to evaluate whether the lawyer is the right fit for you.