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If you are facing a divorce in Colorado, you can expect the unexpected, but better understanding the process can help you navigate forward with greater purpose and confidence. Of all the steps you can take to help protect your financial and parental rights throughout your divorce, working closely with an experienced Lone Tree, Colorado, divorce attorney is one of the most important.  

 

Filing for Divorce

In order to begin the divorce process, one of you will need to file a petition for divorce. If your spouse has already filed, this step in the process is resolved.

 

Moving forward with an Attorney in Your Corner

Whether your spouse has already filed or you are preparing to do so, consulting with a dedicated divorce attorney sooner rather than later is advisable for all the following reasons:

 

  • Your attorney will help to ensure that your financial documentation is in order, which leaves you better positioned to move forward.
  • Your attorney will help you avoid the common pitfalls that many people going through divorce fall victim to. 
  • Your attorney will help you prioritize your divorce goals, which will help guide your negotiations.
  • Your attorney will help to ensure that you understand what to expect in terms of your unique divorce and will help you make the best decisions for you along the way. 
  • Your attorney will skillfully address all your pressing questions and concerns and will serve as your guide throughout the divorce process. 

 

Seeking a No-Fault Divorce

When it comes to divorce, Colorado is strictly a no-fault state, which means your divorce will not be predicated on either spouse’s wrongdoing. This helps to expedite the process and can help mitigate the tension involved. Instead, Colorado divorces are based on marriages being irretrievably broken, which is similar to having irreconcilable differences. This said, however, it is important to note that the involved court has the discretion to factor in either spouse’s wrongdoing in the division of marital assets and in the matter of alimony. 

 

Meeting Residency Requirements

In order to obtain a divorce in Colorado, one of you must have domiciled in the state for at least 90 days prior to filing. Generally, this means living in Colorado, but the act of domiciling has more to do with intent than with physically living in the State of Colorado. The kinds of actions that indicate intent include the following:

 

  • Having a primary mailing address in the state
  • Maintaining voter registration in the state
  • Owning a home in the state
  • Registering one’s vehicle in the state

 

Resolving the Terms of Your Divorce

Once you have already filed for divorce, the next order of business is resolving the divorce terms that apply to your unique situation. These terms include:

 

  • The division of marital property
  • Child custody arrangements, including parental responsibilities and parenting time
  • Child support
  • Alimony

 

Dividing Your Marital Property

One term that virtually every divorcing couple needs to resolve is the division of marital property, which refers to the division of those assets that you acquired during your marriage – regardless of who did the purchasing. Separate property that either of you owned prior to marriage and kept carefully separate throughout the marriage will remain the property of that spouse, but any intermingling of marital and separate assets can weaken the dividing line. 

 

Marital property must be divided between spouses in a manner that is deemed fair when factors like the following are taken into careful consideration:

 

  • Each spouse’s separate holdings
  • Each spouse’s economic circumstances
  • The tax implications of the proposed division
  • If the primary custodial parent is attempting to remain in the family home with the children
  • Any dissolution of separate assets for marital purposes
  • Any spending down or dissipation of marital assets by one spouse during the divorce process
  • Any additional factors the court considers pertinent to the case at hand

 

The division of your marital assets is a critical component of your financial future, which makes advocating for your rights paramount. 

 

Determining Your Child Custody Arrangements

You and your divorcing spouse can devise any schedule that you are both willing to sign off on regarding your child custody arrangements, including both parental responsibilities, which is often called legal custody, and parenting time, which is often called physical custody. If this isn’t a possibility, however, you can expect the court to hand out one of its standard orders. 

 

Parental Responsibilities

Parental responsibilities refer to those primary decisions that parents are required to make on behalf of their children over the course of their childhoods, including the following:

 

  • Decisions about your children’s healthcare
  • Decisions about your children’s participation in extracurriculars and travel
  • Decisions about your children’s schooling
  • Decisions about your children’s religious upbringing

 

Both parents can tackle these decisions together, but other options include:

 

  • One parent is awarded the authority to break a tie if it becomes necessary to do so
  • Both parents divide the decision-making authority between themselves according to the kind of decision that needs to be made.
  • One parent takes on sole decision-making authority.

 

Parenting Time

Parenting time sets the schedule by which you and your ex will divide your time with your shared children. While the schedule you land on may be utterly unique to your family, it will fall into one of the following basic classifications:

 

  • One of you becomes the primary custodial parent, while the other has a visitation schedule.
  • Both of you divide your time with the kids more evenly. 

 

An important consideration is that Colorado courts always turn to the best interests of the children when it comes to child custody concerns, and the factors that guide them include:

 

  • Each parent’s preference in the matter
  • The preference of each child who is deemed mature enough to weigh in
  • The relationship between each child and each parent
  • How well the children have adjusted to the status quo, which includes their current home, school, and community
  • Each parent and each child’s overall mental and physical health
  • The likelihood that each parent will support a healthy and loving ongoing relationship between the children and the other parent
  • How involved has each parent been in raising the children to date
  • The likelihood that each parent will put their children’s best interests first
  • The distance between the parents’ homes
  • Each parent’s commitment to effective co-parenting
  • Anything else the court finds relevant 

 

Child Support

When parents divorce, they both remain responsible for supporting their children financially, and child support is the tool used to balance this support between both parents fairly – in accordance with their ability to pay. Many factors can play a role in this important determination, but the primary concerns include the number of overnights each parent has with the children and each parent’s income. Ultimately – even if you divide overnights down the middle – the parent whose income is higher is likely to make the child support payments. 

 

Alimony

Alimony, which is called spousal maintenance in Colorado, will only feature in your divorce terms if the divorce leaves one of you unable to continue supporting yourself at – or near – the same standard of living you achieved during your marriage. If not – and if your ex has the financial means to help – alimony may be ordered for an amount of time that allows the recipient to obtain the education, experience, or job skills necessary to become more financially independent.

 

Temporary Orders

While some couples continue living together throughout the divorce process, many others do not, and under these circumstances, temporary orders may be necessary. Temporary orders can address matters such as the following while your divorce is pending:

 

  • Who is responsible for which bills
  • How you divide your time with your shared children
  • Who remains in the family home as the primary custodial parent
  • Whether temporary spousal maintenance is required, and if so, its amount and duration

 

Your divorce lawyer can advise you whether you need to file for temporary orders in your divorce case. In some situations, these orders can be incorporated into your final divorce decree if both you and your spouse agree to continue the arrangement. This is common with child custody and support. 

 

Turning to the Court 

If one or more divorce terms remain unresolved after you and your divorcing spouse have exhausted your negotiation efforts, you’ll need to turn to the court for its guidance. While it’s generally preferable to retain the authority to resolve divorce terms between yourselves, it’s not always a possibility. Having a seasoned divorce attorney who is up to speed with your unique case is the surest means of protecting your parental and financial rights in court and beyond. 

 

Consult with an Experienced Lone Tree Divorce Attorney Today

Chris Little at CNL Law Firm, PLLC, is a practiced Lone Tree, Colorado, divorce attorney who is committed to skillfully advocating for divorce terms that support your rights and best interests. Your case is important to your future, so please don’t put off reaching out and contacting or calling us at (720) 370-2171 for more information about what we can do to help you today.

 

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