The most convenient and least challenging way of filing for divorce when your spouse does not live in-state (in Colorado) is to obtain your spouse’s co-operation. This would mean that your spouse would do one of the following:
1. Sign the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with you as a co-petitioner; or
2. Sign (in front of a Notary Public) a Waiver of Service, acknowledging that he or she had received the divorce paperwork; or
3. Voluntarily accept service of the papers from a private process server or a law enforcement officer, usually a deputy sheriff (usually the out-of-state spouse sets up a pre-arranged time to meet the process server or deputy sheriff and receive the divorce documents).
Another possibility, but one less likely to result in a satisfactory resolution of the divorce action, is to have a deputy sheriff or private process server deliver the papers to your spouse, and serve him or her. Even if this takes place, there has to be a finding by a Court that the out-of-state spouse has “significant” connections with the State of Colorado in order for a Colorado Court to take jurisdiction over important issues in the case, such as child support.
Still another possibility, if the out-of-state spouse is unwilling to co-operate, is to have the absent spouse file for divorce in her or his own state, and for the Colorado spouse to voluntarily co-operate with the action in the other state, which would subject the Colorado spouse to the jurisdiction of the other state. This has the same difficulties, but in reverse. It bears keeping in mind that each state has its own laws concerning divorce, child custody, support, spousal maintenance, etc. The laws of the other state could disadvantage the Colorado spouse, so it is necessary to obtain legal advice from an attorney in the other state before agreeing to a non-Colorado divorce filing.
Like most divorce actions, in the out-of-state spouse situation, it really works best to have a good co-operative working relationship with your soon-to-be-ex. Otherwise, you could spend a lot of time and money (on legal fees and process servers) just trying to get your divorce action going.
By Doris Truhlar