Review of Colorado Magistrate Orders

Martin Law Firm is Experienced in Researching, Preparing and Filing Petitions for Review of Colorado Magistrate Orders


Colorado magistrates hear requests for protection orders, temporary orders in domestic relations cases, motions for contempt and motions to modify permanent orders, including child support, maintenance, parenting time or visitation and legal custody or decision-making orders.

Appeals of the magistrate’s order are governed by Rule 7 of the Colorado Rules for Magistrates.  An appeal is made by filing a Petition for Review with the Colorado District Court judge.  In domestic relations cases, the petition must be filed within 14 days after a written, signed, dated, final order is entered by the magistrate, if the parties were present at the time the order was entered, or within 21 days if the order was mailed or otherwise sent to the parties.

Requesting review of the magistrate’s decision by the District Court judge is required before the order or judgment may be appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals.  The exception is when the magistrate is hearing and deciding contested permanent or final orders by consent of the parties: in these instances, appeal is directly to the Court of Appeals.

The District Court judge reviews the petition as an appellate judge and will generally defer to the magistrate’s decision on factual disputes unless the decision is shown to be clearly in error, and will make an separate determination regarding whether the applicable law was followed.  If the appeal from the magistrate’s order concerns what the magistrate found the facts of the case to be, a transcript of the hearing will be needed.  Transcripts are ordered from the Clerk of Court and typically are prepared by independent contractors from electronic audio recordings of the hearing.

Court Rules governing magistrates are issued by the Colorado Supreme Court.  Set forth below is an excerpt from the Colorado Rules for Magistrates pertaining to the process and procedures for appealing a magistrate’s ruling.  The rules must be strictly followed.


Colorado Rules for Magistrates — Rule 7. Review of District Court Magistrate Orders or Judgments. 

(a) Orders or judgments entered when consent not necessary. Magistrates shall include in any order or judgment entered in a proceeding in which consent is not necessary a written notice that the order or judgment was issued in a proceeding where no consent was necessary, and that any appeal must be taken within 21 days pursuant to Rule 7(a).

(1) Unless otherwise provided by statute, this Rule is the exclusive method to obtain review of a district court magistrate’s order or judgment issued in a proceeding in which consent of the parties is not necessary.

(2) The chief judge shall designate one or more district judges to review orders or judgments of district court magistrates entered when consent is not necessary.

(3) Only a final order or judgment of a magistrate is reviewable under this Rule. A final order or judgment is that which fully resolves an issue or claim.

(4) A final order or judgment is not reviewable until it is written, dated, and signed by the magistrate. A Minute Order which is signed by a magistrate will constitute a final written order or judgment.

(5) A party may obtain review of a magistrate’s final order or judgment by filing a petition to review such final order or judgment with the reviewing judge no later than 14 days subsequent to the final order or judgment if the parties are present when the magistrate’s order is entered, or 21 days from the date the final order or judgment is mailed or otherwise transmitted to the parties.

(6) A request for extension of time to file a petition for review must be made to the reviewing judge within the 21 day time limit within which to file a petition for review. A motion to correct clerical errors filed with the magistrate pursuant to C.R.C.P. 60(a) does not constitute a petition for review and will not operate to extend the time for filing a petition for review.

(7) A petition for review shall state with particularity the alleged errors in the magistrate’s order or judgment and may be accompanied by a memorandum brief discussing the authorities relied upon to support the petition. Copies of the petition and any supporting brief shall be served on all parties by the party seeking review. Within 14 days after being served with a petition for review, a party may file a memorandum brief in opposition.

(8) The reviewing judge shall consider the petition for review on the basis of the petition and briefs filed, together with such review of the record as is necessary. The reviewing judge also may conduct further proceedings, take additional evidence, or order a trial de novo in the district court. An order entered under 6(c)(1) which effectively ends a case shall be subject to de novo review.

(9) Findings of fact made by the magistrate may not be altered unless clearly erroneous. The failure of the petitioner to file a transcript of the proceedings before the magistrate is not grounds to deny a petition for review but, under those circumstances, the reviewing judge shall presume that the record would support the magistrate’s order.

(10) The reviewing judge shall adopt, reject, or modify the initial order or judgment of the magistrate by written order, which order shall be the order or judgment of the district court.

(11) Appeal of an order or judgment of a district court magistrate may not be taken to the appellate court unless a timely petition for review has been filed and decided by a reviewing court in accordance with these Rules.

(12) If timely review in the district court is not requested, the order or judgment of the magistrate shall become the order or judgment of the district court. Appeal of such district court order or judgment to the appellate court is barred.

(b) Orders or judgments entered when consent is necessary. Any order or judgment entered with consent of the parties in a proceeding in which such consent is necessary is not subject to review under Rule 7(a), but shall be appealed pursuant to the Colorado Rules of Appellate Procedure in the same manner as an order or judgment of a district court. Magistrates shall include in any order or judgment entered in a proceeding in which consent is necessary a written notice that the order or judgment was issued with consent, and that any appeal must be taken pursuant to Rule 7(b).


The information provided above is general in nature, is not intended as legal advice for your particular situation and should not be relied upon without first consulting with legal counsel.  Martin Law Firm provides legal representation in divorce and family law matters in the Denver Colorado metro area and will tailor its services to your particular needs and unique circumstances.

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