Process Of A Colorado Divorce Case

9 Step Process of A Colorado Divorce Case You Should Be Prepared For

We tend to mark the passage of time in our lives with significant benchmarks. Graduation from school, first job, home purchase, marriage, and children are all important marker stones for people as they progress through life. Unfortunately, not all benchmarks are to be celebrated, however. For increasing numbers of people, engaging in divorce proceedings becomes a reality.

Tying the knot is easy, but untying those bounds can be emotionally acrimonious, sad, and traumatic all at the same time. Here at Cossitt family law, we understand how difficult these times can be, so we will constantly work to assure superior legal outcomes for our clients. Having an attorney by your side that is fully versant in the details and process of obtaining a divorce in the Centennial State is the best way to navigate this difficult point in your life.

For Colorado couples looking to end their marriage, you undoubtedly have questions regarding the process and your rights in such proceedings. Let’s look at the important stages of divorce proceedings before exploring specific causes of concern for many divorcing parents.

Important Terms Related to Colorado Divorces

As with most things in life, a specific vocabulary has arisen to discuss divorce concepts. Understanding this vocabulary is a good starting point to better understand the process you are entering. Here in Colorado, the following is a brief listing of important legal concepts that apply to the state’s divorce rules.

Colorado is one of seventeen states in the country that observe a “No-fault” approach to ending a divorce. What that means is that the court will not to seek assign fault to either party in the divorce proceedings. As such, a simple declaration of “irreconcilable differences” is sufficient to initiate divorce proceedings. Also, the desire for divorce is not always shared, so the state allows for only one person to file a petition for divorce even though the other spouse is opposed.

As with most court jurisdictions around the nation, petitioners must first establish residency in the Centennial State before being eligible to file for divorce in Colorado, which mandates a residency of 90-days. Finally, the state recognizes common law marriage, and common law marriages follow the same guidelines as other divorces.

Issues the Court will Address

When you come before the court to dissolve your marriage, the court will arrange for a variety of issues beyond simply ending the marriage. The judge will also address a host of issues designed to equitably divide communal property, as well as ensuring for the welfare of the couple’s children.

Specifically, the court will make orders regarding the following:

  • Spousal support
  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Child visitation
  • Equitable distribution of property

Obviously, it is the court’s preference that divorce petitioners arrive at solutions and settlement terms through direct negotiations with each other’s attorneys prior to entering the courtroom, but if contentious issues remain in the divorce, such as those listed above, the divorce judge will determine the outcome in a court hearing.

Throughout the entirety of the experience, your lawyer will keep you informed of your case, ensure proper court documents have been filed, and will fight vigorously should the divorce prove contentious. Typically speaking, at any point when you find yourself in front of a judge, you will want to have seasoned and competent legal counsel by your side to ensure the best legal outcome and that is certainly true of divorce as well.

Seeking Equity Through Spousal Support

When seeking to assign court-ordered spousal support or alimony, the judge is going to examine a myriad of factors before making a decision regarding regular, monthly payments between one spouse and the other. Obviously, this can be one of the more contentious issues when attempting to dissolve a marriage.

The goal of assigning spousal support is to assure that both parties are able to maintain the quality of life that they enjoyed during the marriage. Additionally, it attempts to make tangible the intangible in terms of economic, emotional, and family support that, together, built up the assets of the family but might be difficult to quantify. For instance, if one spouse worked to pay the bills while the other gained their education to gain earn a high paying career, it is assumed by the court that that working spouse is entitled to some ongoing support until they have the chance to get on their feet.

Towards that end, as mentioned, the court will avail itself of a myriad of available information to form a fair and equitable ruling. Just some of these factors include:

  • Each spouse’s financial resources
  • Earning the potential of each spouse
  • The contribution each has brought to the marriage
  • Contributions each spouse makes to the other’s careers
  • Whether or not either spouse will require new training to rejoin the workforce
  • Couple’s standard of living during the marriage

Determining spousal support can prove contentious, but it also must be remembered that any spousal support payments that are approved by the court are distinct and separate from any payments that might be ordered for child support payments. Whether you are responsible for making such payments, or you are the likely recipient of such payments, having a seasoned divorce attorney fighting by your side is an important consideration when beginning divorce proceedings.

Deciding Custodial Rights and Types of Parental Responsibility

It may seem trite to note that the biggest loser in a divorce is often the children, but that does not in any way ameliorate the hurt, harm, and confusion often experienced by children as their parents navigate their divorce. Perhaps the leading questions for divorcing parents deal with the ongoing legal and physical custody of the children.

It is probably no surprise to hear that the courts have specialized terms when it comes to dealing with child custody in the state. For most people, the terms “joint custody” and “sole custody’ are the familiar vernacular when dealing with such cases, and while Colorado lawmakers have eschewed these typical labels, it is probably easiest to understand the process utilizing these terms.

Regardless of the terms used however, the primary goal of the court is to arrive at a living situation that is best for the children. To achieve this goal, the court mandates an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities report. In this document, ideally, the parents will come to an agreement dealing with all issues related to the custody of the children.

Ideally, this will address whether both parents will have authority to make decisions regarding the welfare of the child. This typically includes medical care decision-making rights, school attendance, religious worship, as well as participation regarding permission for extracurricular activities.

Additionally, the APR will address the amount of time each parent gets to spend with the child. Experts acknowledge that children benefit most from spending an equal amount of time with both parents; the court will always endeavor to arrive at a 50/50 split when possible as a result.

Sometimes however, for instance, should one parent live far away making frequent visits deleterious to the child’s schedule, a more structured approach towards longer visits will be considered by the court. Additionally, the court will investigate and render judgments in cases where neglect or abuse is alleged.

For parents seeking a divorce under these circumstances, hiring a licensed attorney to press your case, or defend your claim against fraudulent allegations, is a critical factor in ensuring the best outcome for your family.

An array of factors will go into the judge’s final decision regarding the placement of the child with a custodial parent. These include the preferences of the children, observed interactions between the parents and the children, as well as interactions with the grandparents and the children. Likewise, the presence of siblings, or the knowledge of mental health issues with either of the parents. The goal, at the end of the day, is to replicate a sense of normalcy in a post-divorce world for the children, and every effort will be used to obtain those results.

Also read: What To Do When Someone Ignores You

Child Support Benefits the Children

At all times during a Colorado divorce case that involves children, the court will work overtime to ensure that the children’s welfare is placed front and foremost in all decisions that the court renders. One such important aspect is the establishment of child support payments.

To begin, Colorado statutes mandate a child support payment that is based on a percentage per child. As such, parents can expect to pay roughly 20% for one child, and an additional 10% tacked on for each additional child.

Needless to say, just as in cases of spousal support, the judge will look to an array of documentary evidence in an attempt to determine an appropriate child support payment. Relevant factors that Colorado courts consider when making support judgments include the financial resources of the child, as well as the financial means of the custodial parent.

The goal of these calculations is to replicate a standard of living that the children would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been terminated. Once these factors are assessed, they will be balanced against the financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.

As mentioned, child support is different from spousal support, and under Colorado law, such payments are mandated until the child reaches the age of 19, or 21 if the child is still enrolled in high school. Also, it should be noted that if the child is somehow disabled, and subsequently unable to care for themselves then such support would continue indefinitely. Assuring that you are being required to pay the correct amount, your attorney will work to make sure that no assets are being hidden from the court and an accurate record is being shown to the judge.

Exploring the Advantages of Divorce Mediation

Although the typical stereotype we think of when it comes to divorce proceedings is that of a contentious affair, that need not be the case. Indeed, the court’s preference is that both parties arrive at an amicable resolution of their differences. When that is not possible however, couples can avail themselves of the services of a divorce mediator. This is a proceeding that promises to iron out basic difficulties before appearing before the judge.

Divorce mediation occurs outside the courtroom, and it is a dispute resolution process that leans heavily on the services of a specially trained mediator that acts as a neutral arbitrator to help arrive at a suitable resolution to disputes. The idea is that once the details have been ironed out, they will be formalized in a memorandum of understanding to present to the judge.

The mediation process is an excellent venue for solving thorny and complex issues. Often utilized to arrive of a suitable division of assets and debts, as well as arriving at an alimony settlement, the divorce mediation process is an excellent way to resolve child custody questions outside of the glare of the courtroom.

The judge will review the memorandum of understanding before approving the agreement and finalizing the divorce. The soonest you will be able to get a court ruling is 91-days following your filing, the case can take longer depending on the complexity of the case.

Utilizing a divorce mediation service promises to save time, money, and aggravation while navigating the divorce process. Your attorney can arrange with a competent, neutral party to help you solve any outstanding issues that might be stalling the successful conclusion of your divorce.

Also read: What to Do When Someone Insults You

What Happens If You Don’t Want a Divorce?

Owing to the state’s “No fault” approach to divorce, and the fact that one party can decide to dissolve the marriage, it is frequently the case that one of the petitioners do not want to get divorced. As such, what happens when one party in the marriage does not want a divorce?

Frequently, in these cases the recipient of divorce papers will actively seek to mentally and emotionally block the reality and ignore the situation. This rarely works out well. That’s because regardless of your recalcitrance, the process will grind inexorably on until its logical conclusion of a severed marriage. Since one spouse in the proceedings can initiate the proceedings, a conclusion does not require your consent or agreement, so there is really very little you can do to stop the proceedings.

The better approach is to reach out to a seasoned Fort Collins attorney to press for your rights in negotiation and before the court. Getting over a divorce that you did not even want id difficult enough, but being saddled with an unfair divorce settlement will just add insult to injury.

What should your first steps be following your serving of divorce papers? At this point it is important to recognize that time is of the essence. Clearly, your spouse has already given this matter some considerable thought, so you have to quickly get up to speed and formulate an adequate response.

What to do When You Receive Divorce Papers

Being served divorce papers might be the first indication that events have preceded beyond your expectations, but it is an important benchmark that starts the legal clock ticking in terms of framing your response.

Once you are served paperwork regarding your divorce, you will have 21-days to file a response. Failure to do so could compromise your rights. This is because, lacking a response, the court will simply assume that you agree with your spouse’s request. For this reason, you will want to reach out to a trusted Fort Collins attorney to fight for your rights and ensure that your needs will be addressed by the court.

While it is possible to go back and amend the terms of a divorce proceeding, doing so can be time-consuming, and expensive, so answering the complaint promptly is highly advised. We understand that going through a divorce can be an emotionally charged time in your life, but meeting the challenge head-on with a vigorous defense of your rights is critically important.

Also read: What To Do When You Miss Someone

Call the Child Custody Attorney in Fort Collins That You Can Trust

If you find yourself in a situation where you need competent legal representation in a divorce settlement, and you have concerns and questions regarding the custody of your children, you need to call our firm here at The Cossitt Law Firm.

We understand the difficulty of unraveling a family unit into separate lives, and our expertise and professional representation can serve as a grounding influence in an entire process that is known for the emotional baggage it carries.  We have extensive knowledge of family law in Colorado, and we use this knowledge to make sure our clients receive the best possible representation after a divorce.

Contact our Fort Collins office today for a free consultation and get the answers you need regarding your children in any upcoming Colorado divorce proceedings. The future is too important to leave to chance when it comes to the raising of your children. Let our experienced divorce lawyers at Cossitt family law help you navigate this new arena.

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