Home Divorce Lawyer Divorce Advice (Colorado) – Everything You Need To Know

Divorce Advice (Colorado) – Everything You Need To Know

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Divorce Advice (Colorado) - Everything You Need To Know

Going through a divorce is difficult, even in the best of circumstances. When emotions run high and major life changes loom, having reliable guidance can make all the difference. This comprehensive guide aims to educate and empower anyone going through divorce in Colorado.

I’ll cover:

  • How Colorado’s Laws Affect Divorce Proceedings
  • Steps to Take When Filing for Divorce
  • Dividing Assets and Managing Finances
  • Arrangements for Children and Co-Parenting
  • Coping With Stress and Moving Forward

Follow along for thorough advice and insights from my years of experience helping clients navigate divorce.

How Colorado’s Laws Affect Divorce Proceedings

Like all states, Colorado has its own set of laws dealing with divorce, child custody, spousal maintenance, and more that come into play when dissolving a marriage. Here are some key points:

Residency Requirements In order to file for divorce in Colorado, either spouse must have been a resident for at least 91 days prior. There are some exceptions, such as for members of the armed forces stationed in Colorado.

Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets Colorado is an “equitable distribution” state when handling division of marital assets and debts. This means assets are divided in a fair and just manner, but not necessarily 50/50. Factors like each spouse’s income and contributions are taken into account.

Child Custody and Support Determinations Colorado uses the standard of what’s in the “best interests of the child” when determining custody arrangements and orders. Everything from the child’s existing routine to relationships with each parent can be considered.

Like many states, Colorado has child support guidelines that provide estimates for typical support amounts based on factors like income levels and number of overnights with each parent. The court can deviate from those guidelines if very good cause is shown.

Grounds for Divorce In Colorado, a divorce may be granted on grounds of either irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, or mental illness of one of the spouses. The most common approach is using the “no fault” grounds of irretrievable breakdown, which doesn’t require placing blame on either party.

Steps to Take When Filing for Divorce in Colorado

The process for getting divorced in Colorado involves paperwork, procedures, deadlines and documentation. Here is an overview of what you can expect:

Meet Residency Requirements
As mentioned, at least one spouse in a Colorado divorce must have lived in the state for a minimum of 91 continuous days prior to filing.

Decide Where to File Paperwork
You can file paperwork with the district court in the county you live in, or where your spouse lives. If neither reside in Colorado, file where the other spouse last lived.

Complete Mandatory Divorce Education Class
Colorado requires anyone with minor children to complete a court-approved divorce education class within 60 days of filing paperwork. Classes focus on impact of separations, options for arranging parenting time, mediation tips and more.

File the Petition and Related Paperwork
To formally initiate divorce proceedings, one spouse (the petitioner) completes a summons, petition for dissolution of marriage, and other documentation. This is filed with the appropriate district court, and fees paid.

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Serve Your Spouse
The other spouse must receive official notice that divorce proceedings have begun through a process called “service of process”. A disinterested third party (usually a sheriff or process server) personally delivers copies of paperwork.

Respond to the Petition
The spouse served with divorce papers (known as the respondent) has 21 days to file a written response with the court admitting, denying or making counterclaims to information contained in it. Not responding can result in a default judgment against the respondent.

Exchange Disclosures
Early on, each spouse discloses details to the other about income, expenses, assets, debts, and other financial information. This facilitates negotiations and decisions about property division and spousal/child support later.

Attend Mediation (If Applicable)
For couples with irreconcilable differences about support, asset division, or arrangements involving children, mediation may be required, or at least a wise option. An impartial professional mediator helps facilitate compromise.

Formalize Agreements with Court
Once agreements are reached, consent orders spell out terms in writing. These cover areas like alimony, child custody plans, division of personal property and real estate, etc. If no agreement can be reached the court may order provisions.

Finalize the Divorce Decree
After following procedures and statutory waiting periods (typically 6 months), the judge formalizes the divorce through issuance of a final decree. This dissolves the marriage and legally enacts all orders concerning distribution of assets, spousal maintenance, child-related arrangements and more.

The process certainly has many complex steps to follow. Hiring an experienced Colorado divorce lawyer to guide you makes the process less intimidating and helps achieve fair outcomes. A lawyer’s expertise also becomes particularly important if high-value or complex marital assets must be divided.

Dividing Assets and Managing Finances During Divorce

Unwinding your financial life during divorce involves identifying, valuing and dividing all assets and liabilities either party accumulated during the marriage. This includes things like:

  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement funds
  • Real estate/homes
  • Businesses
  • Investments
  • Vehicles
  • Collectibles with significant value

Debts – mortgages, car loans, credit cards – must also be addressed even if only in one spouse’s name.

General principles for dividing marital property during a Colorado divorce include:

  • Separate property acquired before marriage or via gift/inheritance typically belongs solely to original owner
  • Appreciation of separate property during marriage gets classified as marital
  • Gifts given by one spouse to the other spouse jointly during marriage likely count as marital
  • Compensation for personal injury during marriages is generally separate property

Equitable factors weighed when dividing assets often include respective contributions to acquiring assets, economic circumstances, age, income, health and more.

Defining what qualifies as “marital property” versus separate property can become complex with things like active business interests or executive compensation packages.

Other financial considerations come into play as well:

  • Who remains in the marital home? Can the spouse keeping it afford payments or might it need to be sold?
  • How will retirement accounts be divided to enable both spouses’ secure futures? Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) formally split accounts.
  • Does one spouse require temporary spousal maintenance like monthly alimony to manage big lifestyle changes?
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Thorough financial disclosure and either negotiated agreement or court-ordered arrangement distribuing property and assigning debts clear the path for a clean financial break between divorcing spouses.

Arrangements for Children and Co-Parenting After Divorce

When minor children are involved, divorce necessitates significant changes to custody, visitation arrangements and child support responsibilities. Several key considerations in Colorado:

Establishing Parenting Time & Decision-making In addition to parenting time schedules determining where kids’ time splits between separated parents’ homes, decision-making authority must also be addressed.

Arrangements might grant one party final say over major decisions like medical procedures or education while the other determines day-to-day activities.

Or couples might share joint decision-making across all categories. Mediation helps devise fair plans when disputes arise over legal custody (decision-making) and physical custody.

Modifying Existing Plans Unique situations like parents relocating more than 100 miles apart or changes in work schedules sometimes necessitate revisiting parenting plans down the road. Parents must go back through mediation first before involving courts regarding changes.

Handling Long Distance Plans When distance enters the picture, parenting time gets trickier. But technology today enables remote contact stay meaningful through video calls between kids and the noncustodial parent. Travel to enable face-to-face visitation can also be specified in mediated plans filed with courts.

Calculating Child Support Colorado has a very formulaic process for determining child support amounts based on respective parental incomes, overnights with each parent, insurance and health costs, etc. Deviations from state guidelines happen rarely and courts scrutinize requests closely. Support continues until children turn 19, or 21 if still in high school.

Co-Parenting Classes As mentioned earlier, divorcing Colorado parents with kids under 18 must complete mandated classes on helping children through transitions. Multiple sessions exist teaching communication tactics, developmental issues at different ages, sample parenting plans and more.

In a perfect world both parents put kids first in divorce. But attorney guidance maximizes the odds children’s needs get met regarding custody arrangements, financial support and most importantly…sustaining vital nurturing relationships on both sides.

Coping With Stress and Moving Forward After Divorce

The emotional upheaval spurred by the breakdown of serious relationships like marriages cannot be minimized. From grieving your former life to worrying about an uncertain future, intense feelings come with the territory during separation and divorce. Arm yourself as effectively as possible:

Seeking Counseling Support Mental health counseling provides safe space to process feelings, start making sense of drastic changes, and glean strategies for resilience. Having professional support mitigates feeling isolated or overwhelmed.

Making Time for Self-Care Intentional acts of self-care will prove more crucial than ever amidst divorce stress. Give yourself permission to rest, reflect, replenish and heal through healthy outlets like light exercise, enjoying nature, prayer or meditation, enjoying a hobby, or just quiet relaxation breathing. Don’t neglect your body’s recharging needs.

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Relying On Your Support Network Trusted friends and family can make all the difference by lending empathetic ears. Feelings of anger or grief may surface unexpectedly even long after divorcing. So surround yourself with patient compassionate people in your corner. If personal contacts’ support falls short seek out divorce support groups as well.

Exploring Educational Resources Myriad books, articles and videos exist to help individuals navigate divorce’s impacts ranging from emotional to legal to financial. Be proactive supplementing counselor or lawyer guidance by learning everything possible about successfully moving through changes divorce brings.

The turbulence of unwinding a marriage can feel relentless, dominating life in the short term. While closing one life chapter inevitably brings sadness, embracing the personal growth and redirection divorce facilitates leads to brighter days ahead.

With understanding and perseverance this trying transition ultimately empowers you to pursue your best future path based on what matters most.

Divorce FAQs (Colorado)

Divorcing in Colorado, as in any state, brings lots of questions during an already stressful time. These answers to common queries help provide clarity. Always seek advice from an attorney regarding your unique situation as well.

How quickly can my divorce be finalized in Colorado?
The minimum period before divorce decree typically equals six months from filing date. But it often takes nine to twelve months or longer resolving property division, finances, child-related concerns etc. before finalization.

Is Colorado a community property state when dividing assets/debts?
No, it follows an “equitable distribution” model instead considering fairness factors like both spouses’ contributions when dividing marital property upon divorce.

Am I entitled to alimony payments from my spouse?
Courts may award temporary, rehabilitative or permanent alimony. Factors considered include respective incomes, assets, debt, employment capacity, marital standard of living, etc. Awards aim to financially stabilize the lower-earning spouse.

Who decides child custody arrangements in Colorado?
Ideally parents agree upon parenting plans. Mediation facilitates compromise if disputes arise. Judges determine arrangements if needed after considering children’s best interests across factors like existing attachments/routines, special needs accommodations, etc.

Can I change divorce-related child custody agreements later?
Custody orders get reexamined anytime either parent’s situation substantially changes regarding impacts on the children. Examples include relocations over 100 miles or adjustments needed addressing special needs. Parents must first attempt compromise through mediation before involving courts regarding changes.

How does Colorado calculate child support payment amounts?
Very precise child support guidelines formulate typical amounts based heavily on respective parental incomes. Deviations are rare unless very compelling circumstances exist like shared custody, kids with extraordinary medical/educational expenses etc. Support continues until kids turn 19, or 21 if still in high school.

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