By: Sarah McCain
In this day and age of on-line, check-the-box divorce forms, the general public is often left with the impression that handling a Colorado divorce case on their own is an easy process. Sometimes it can be, such as when the parties agree on each and every issue (though I recommend always consulting with an attorney to make sure the i’s are dotted and the tee’s are crossed). However, there are also instances in which people choose to represent themselves in contested Colorado divorce cases. In these instances, people often go into the courtroom believing that somehow the court is going to guide them through the process or that they will be given certain breaks or concessions because they don’t have an attorney. This is just not true. I have had many cases in which the other party chooses to go to trial without a lawyer. They are generally shocked to learn that the judge will hold them to the same standard as an attorney regarding procedure and rules of evidence.
When you file a divorce or custody case, or a modification, with the court, the paperwork that you receive from the Court (generally a Case Management Order) will often set forth deadlines and standards of practice. A party without an attorney may wonder what this means for him or her and may fail to grasp all of the deadlines that exist. Unfortunately, there is not an easy-to-read manual which lays out everything that needs to be done, and when. The Court does its best at advising parties to the extent allowed. However, in complicated financial or parenting time matters, the basic information given by the court may not be enough to formulate an understanding of what really is required or needed to effectively litigate. Continue reading