Divorce is an emotionally turbulent time for most spouses but preparing ahead of time for the most streamlined process to make the legal aspects of the separation as well-organized as possible helps to calm some of the chaos that typically goes along with it. While you might not be able to prepare for the emotional fallout of a significant life change like a divorce, you can prepare for the legal process so it proceeds smoothly, leaving you better equipped to focus on your family’s well-being and your own emotional health.
While anything can throw an unexpected wrench in the proceedings, by preparing for an organized divorce you can minimize the likelihood of delays and disputes that interrupt the process and add further stress.
The First Steps to Prepare for the Process
Once you’ve decided that divorce is inevitable and it’s time to move forward on your new journey, preparing for the process ahead is the key to minimizing legal snags. Divorce means a judge at the end of the process must have a full understanding of all financial aspects of your marriage as well as your family’s routines with your children in order to make decisions in the final decree that you and your spouse must follow. The following steps help work toward a streamlined, well-organized divorce:
Make an inventory of your separate property, including any asset that was solely yours before your marriage and wasn’t comingled with your spouse (this occurs when a spouse contributes to the asset financially or makes improvements to a property, or when they have access to an account during marriage)
Make an inventory of all marital property (any assets you and your spouse accumulated during your marriage)
Obtain a copy of your credit report and make a list of debts accumulated during the marriage
If you and your spouse have many assets, consider hiring a financial expert to make determinations about what is separate property and what is marital property so you don’t lose anything during Colorado’s equitable distribution of property process during the divorce
Decide if you wish to file first as the petitioner in the process or if you’d prefer to wait for your spouse to file and then become the respondent in the process
Create a new email address
Open a separate checking account (but keep in mind that any funds you may deposit remain marital property until the divorce process begins)
Choose Your Preferred Divorce Strategy
There are never guarantees when it comes to working your way through a divorce with a spouse who almost certainly has some degree of hard feelings. Determining a strategy to aim toward in order to achieve the best possible outcome of the divorce process can provide a goal to work toward, including the best-case scenario which is an uncontested divorce. Divorces typically proceed in one of the following ways:
Uncontested divorce in Colorado occurs when both spouses are able to come to mutually acceptable terms for all matters, including the equitable distribution of their marital property, child parenting schedules, child support, and spousal support if it’s applicable in their situation. When divorcing spouses can communicate and compromise, they can craft their own divorce settlement together with the help of their attorneys rather than leaving it in the hands of an impartial judge. A judge is likely to sign off on the agreement unless it’s grossly unfair or the judge suspects one party was under duress or intimidation by the other.
A contested divorce occurs when spouses cannot agree on one or more of the decisions regarding asset distribution, child custody, or support.
Mediation and negotiation can occur at any point in the process when both parties and their lawyers meet in a safe, neutral setting to negotiate settlement terms, often with a professional mediator to offer equitable solutions to contentious problems.
Court-litigated divorce occurs when the spouses are unable to come to terms, even with professional mediation. In this case, the judge reviews the case and hears testimony from both sides and then makes decisions on the contested issues in a binding divorce decree.