THE REPRESENTATION YOU NEED IN ORDER TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
The filing of every divorce case in Colorado creates an automatic temporary injunction. This is a legal order that prohibits both parties involved in the divorce or legal separation from certain activities, mainly relating to the destruction or use of marital property. Understanding how a temporary injunction works can help you avoid doing something that could get you into legal trouble. It can also help you protect your rights if your ex-spouse violates the injunction.
What Is a Temporary Injunction?
A temporary injunction, also known as a preliminary injunction, serves to protect the rights of both parties during a dissolution of marriage. The state law regarding automatic temporary injunctions is Colorado Revised Statute Section 14-10-107(b)(I). It states that upon the commencement of a divorce or legal separation proceeding by one of the parties, a temporary injunction will go into effect against both parties until the final divorce decree is entered or the petition is dismissed.
Temporary injunctions put many restraints on both parties involved in a divorce proceeding. Neither party may engage in any of the following activities while a temporary injunction is in place:
- Disposing of marital property in any way without the consent of the other party or a court order. This includes concealing, transferring, encumbering or destroying marital property.
- Molesting or disturbing the peace of the other party. This can refer to many actions meant to irritate or injure the other party.
- Relocating a minor child or children of the parties to a different state without the consent of the other parent or a court order.
- Canceling, modifying or allowing a lapse in a shared insurance policy, such as health insurance or automobile insurance, without giving the spouse at least 14 days’ advance notice and obtaining the spouse’s consent or a court order.
The terms of the temporary injunction must be printed upon the summons. There are some exceptions to a temporary injunction. For example, you may be allowed to dispose of marital property without your ex-spouse’s consent if doing so is a natural result of your usual course of business or for the necessities of life. If you are not sure whether you have the legal right to dispose of marital property, consult with an attorney before doing so.
Understanding Temporary Injunctions
In simple terms, a temporary injunction in a divorce case in Colorado prohibits both parties from engaging in activities that would hurt the other spouse physically, emotionally or financially. This law is in place due to the emotional nature of a divorce or legal separation. Its purpose is to prevent either party from doing something out of spite to harm the other party, such as destroying property to prevent the other spouse from receiving it in a divorce case.
It is important to note that temporary injunctions only apply to marital property, not your separate property. You can do what you wish to property that is classified as separate, such as property that you brought into the marriage (and did not commingle with your spouse’s property) or gifts or inheritance given only to you during your marriage. Verify that a piece of property is your separate property before acting. The law generally holds that you can also do what you want with your will, estate plan and separate credit cards, as long as it does not impact marital property.
If you believe your spouse violated a temporary injunction in your divorce or legal separation case, speak to an attorney right away. You have several options available, such as filing a motion for contempt of court or communicating directly with your spouse to resolve the violation. An attorney can help you with all of the aspects related to a temporary injunction while protecting your legal rights during a divorce case. Learn more today by contacting the Fort Collins divorce lawyers at the Law Office of Stephen Vertucci.
An adopted child is viewed in the same way as a biological child by the divorce courts in Colorado. This means if you and your spouse get divorced with an adopted child, matters such as child custody and child support will be determined in much the same way as if the child were biological and born of the marriage. There may be some special considerations, however, related to the adoption. For assistance with a complicated child custody matter, contact a Fort Collins divorce lawyer.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
You and your spouse will have the opportunity to reach a settlement agreement that determines issues such as child custody, visitation and child support on your own, without court intervention. This is what is known as an uncontested divorce case. It may be helpful to use a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration, to reach a settlement agreement with your spouse and avoid a trial. If you cannot reach a settlement regarding custody of an adopted child or another key issue, your divorce case will have to go to court. This means you would have a contested divorce.
Colorado Child Custody Laws
In Colorado, the family courts will look at many different things to determine child custody if your divorce case goes to trial. For the most part, the courts will want the adopted child to remain in contact with both parents. Adoptive parents have a duty to care for and provide for the child as they would with children born of the marriage. However, the main factor is the adopted child’s best interests.
Custody of an adopted child is based on factors such as:
- The wishes of both parents and the child
- The child’s relationship to either parent
- The child’s connection to his or her community and surroundings
- The child’s safety and wellbeing
- Any special circumstances or special needs the child has
- Each parent’s living situation
- Family history
These are the same factors that are considered when determining custody of a biological child in a divorce case in Colorado. Adopted children also have the right to receive financial support from both parents, meaning the courts may require one spouse (typically the noncustodial parent) to pay the other child support.
Special Considerations for Adopted Children
If the child is one parent’s biological child and the other parent’s adopted child, the courts will value both parental relationships in the same way. The parent with the biological relationship to the child will not receive preference based on this. Each parent will be viewed as the child’s legal parent and treated the same way.
One special issue that may arise in a divorce case involving an adopted child is an adoption subsidy payment. Subsidy payments are given to the child in an amount that may be several hundred dollars each month. If the parents get divorced, the adopted child will continue to receive this subsidy payment until he or she reaches the age of majority.
In general, an adoption subsidy is viewed as the child’s property and does not change how much the noncustodial parent must pay in child support. A portion of the subsidy, however, may be given to the other parent based on his or her share of parenting time. Like child custody and other divorce matters, a couple always has the ability to determine child support on their own before the matter goes to a judge.
What If the Adoption Is Still Pending?
If you and your spouse split up while an adoption is still pending, your divorce may affect the adoption. If the adoptive mother is making the final decision, for instance, she may not give her consent to the adoption after learning of your divorce. In addition, the court in charge of the adoption will consider how the divorce might affect the child. If the birth mother still consents and one parent wishes to proceed with the adoption, there is a chance that it will still go through. These are complicated cases, however, that deserve legal attention. Contact a divorce attorney in Colorado today for more information.
Posted in Divorce on June 28, 2021
One of the most daunting aspects of a divorce is the possibility of going to court. Standing in a courtroom and having a judge make life-changing decisions for you is something that you most likely want to avoid – not to mention the cost, stress and time of a divorce trial. You can avoid going to court during a divorce case in Colorado by resolving your divorce through alternative dispute resolution. A Fort Collins divorce lawyer can help you avoid conflict and move through your case as smoothly as possible.
When Will a Divorce Case Go to Court in Colorado?
California family law does not require you to go to court to get divorced. It is possible to fill out your divorce papers, file them, reach a settlement with your ex-spouse and have a judge sign off without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. A court appearance might be necessary, however, if you and your ex cannot come to a settlement agreement on the pertinent issues of your divorce.
All couples have the opportunity to work together to decide the terms of their divorce before a judge will intervene. A divorce case in Colorado will only go to court if the couple cannot reach a settlement. A settlement is an agreement between both parties on major issues, such as property division, child custody and child support.
Achieving a settlement will give you what is known as an uncontested divorce. This is a much simpler process than a contested divorce. It leaves you and your spouse in control of your divorce decree. It allows you to avoid going to court by having a judge sign off on the settlement created by you and your spouse (and your attorney). If you cannot agree on all of the terms of your dissolution of marriage, however, your case will have to go to trial.
What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
You and your spouse will have a few different opportunities to work things out between yourselves before having to take your divorce case to court in Colorado. If simple conversations between you and your ex are not productive, you can try alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for outside help that does not take away your power to make the final decisions.
There are three different types of ADR available in Colorado:
- Mediation is encouraged between divorcing couples in Colorado. It is a meeting between both parties and a mediator, who is an unbiased third party such as a lawyer or a retired judge, who is trained in conflict resolution. The mediator does not have the power to issue a judgment; he or she is simply there to facilitate compromises. Mediation does not have to result in a settlement – both parties can walk away without a resolution if desired.
- Arbitration is often the next step if mediation fails. Arbitration is also performed outside of the courtroom. It involves the two parties, their attorneys (if desired) and an arbitrator. Unlike a mediator, an arbitrator has the power to make a judgment. However, the couple can decide whether or not to use the judgment (binding vs. nonbinding arbitration).
- Collaborative divorce. A collaborative divorce process uses a combination of mediation and negotiation to achieve a settlement. It is only available for couples who have agreed to work together in a collaborative process to reach an agreement on the critical terms of their divorce. Collaborative divorce often involves lawyers to help each party protect their rights and advocate for their desires.
Alternative dispute resolution has better odds of succeeding and allowing your family to avoid a courtroom if you hire a divorce lawyer to represent you. A lawyer will have the training and experience to help you work through complicated matters such as custody, visitation, and dividing your assets and debt. Your lawyer will help you come up with creative solutions to reach a settlement that works for your family. Discuss your case in more detail with a divorce lawyer in Fort Collins today.
Posted in Divorce on June 9, 2021
Finding new love after a divorce can make it easy to overlook how a remarriage might affect a divorce decree from a past relationship. If one or both parties plan on getting remarried, however, they must understand how this might affect parts of the divorce order, including either party’s financial obligations.
Before you start a new chapter of life, consult with a divorce lawyer in Colorado to understand exactly how this may impact your child support obligation.
Most Remarriages Do Not Affect Child Support
For the most part, getting remarried will not affect a child support obligation. In Colorado, the courts do not take a stepparent’s income into account when determining child support. Thus, the custodial parent or noncustodial parent remarrying will have no effect on a child support arrangement from a previous marriage.
There is an exception, however, if the new spouse pays his or her partner money each month that would be part of that spouse’s income. In this rare circumstance, the child support obligation may change, as the parent’s income has increased. This will only apply if the money given counts as the spouse’s income – not if the new spouse spends money on a mortgage, groceries or household expenses.
What About Stepchildren or New Children?
If the party’s remarriage means he or she will become a stepparent, or if the new couple has children together (by birth or adoption), this also will not affect a child support obligation from a past marriage. The courts in Colorado do not allow the addition of new children to interfere with the financial support given to existing children. It will be the parent’s responsibility to keep up with the costs of the new child in addition to fulfilling an existing child support order.
Do You Need to Modify Your Child Support Order?
If you experience a significant change in your financial situation, this is grounds to request a child support order modification. A modification asks the courts to change your child support obligation based on your new income or change in circumstance. If you lose your job, for example, or get demoted, you may be able to request a modification to reduce your child support payments.
Only certain changes in circumstance will be accepted for child support modifications. The most common is a change in financial circumstance, such as a large raise or job loss. The courts may also modify a child support order if the child’s needs change, such as after a serious medical diagnosis.
A judge will only grant a child support order modification request if the paying parent can prove a significant change in circumstance that is outside of his or her control. If the judge discovers that the parent quit his or her job or took a lower-paying job on purpose to reduce a child support obligation, the judge can deny the request and impose further financial penalties.
How to Modify a Child Support Order in Fort Collins
If you wish to modify your child support order in Colorado, you must file a motion with the county court clerk’s office. You can find the necessary paperwork online or by contacting the county clerk’s office. You will need to explain your reason for requesting the modification and provide evidence of your change in circumstance.
You and your ex-spouse will then have to attend a hearing before a judge, where you will explain why the support order should be modified. Your ex will have the chance to argue why it should remain the same, if desired. If the judge rules in your favor, the modification will go into effect immediately.
Do not stop paying your child support obligation if you remarry, lose your job or experience another change in circumstance. Nothing gives you the legal right to change your payments except for a court order. If you need professional assistance requesting a child support modification, contact an attorney in Fort Collins today.
Posted in Divorce on June 7, 2021
It can be difficult to protect yourself emotionally and financially during a complicated divorce case in Colorado. However, there are steps you can take to improve the outcome of your divorce and make the process as stress-free as possible. Avoiding several common financial mistakes can allow you to prevent issues that could significantly hurt your case. A divorce lawyer in Fort Collins can help you protect your financial security during the legal process.
Living on Your Old Budget
It can be difficult to adapt to a new, single budget after your separation or divorce. You may be used to a certain standard of living that you enjoyed during your marriage. It is important for your future financial stability, however, to create a new budget with your new income.
Write down all of your expenses and create a monthly budget with only your income. Don’t forget expenses such as credit card and debt payments, rent if you have moved out of the family home, and other expenses that your spouse used to share with you. Creating a budget can allow you to maintain your current quality of life and avoid going into significant debt during your divorce.
Your divorce paperwork will ask you to create a comprehensive list of all of your assets, property and sources of income. It is important not to omit any assets, as this could get you into legal trouble. You are legally obligated to disclose all of your assets, including properties, cars, collectibles, jewelry, family heirlooms, furniture and more. Failing to do so could be seen as an attempt to hide assets.
It is also important not to forget any assets when you are creating a property division settlement with your ex-spouse. This is something an attorney can help you with, as a lack of legal knowledge is a common reason why many people fail to negotiate for assets that they legally have a right to. A lawyer can explain Colorado’s equitable property division law to make sure your settlement distributes your assets fairly.
Being Emotionally Attached to Your Home
It is normal to have an emotional attachment to your family home, especially if children are involved. If keeping your home is not financially in your best interests, however, it is important to move on. You may not be able to afford the mortgage and upkeep of the home on your own, or you may have to give up too many other assets to do so. Keep this in mind if your attorney recommends selling the family home. Do not let your emotional attachment get in the way of what is best for you and your family financially.
Failing to See the Big Picture
Many people get so caught up in the details of property division during a divorce case that they forget to look at the big picture or their future financial stability. You may forget to take important issues such as taxes, inflation, losses and gains, and your long-term financial needs into account if you are focused only on dividing your marital assets piece by piece. A lawyer can help understand all of the financial aspects of your divorce.
A divorce lawyer in Colorado will have the knowledge and experience to fully protect you financially during your divorce case. Your lawyer will understand the property division laws in your state and how to successfully navigate them for the best possible results. Your lawyer can also help you and your spouse come to a settlement agreement, allowing you to stay in control of property division.
Finally, a lawyer can help you avoid common financial mistakes that many people make during divorce cases in Colorado. A lawyer can save you from jeopardizing your financial future. Contact an attorney in Fort Collins today for more information.
Posted in Divorce on June 3, 2021
A preliminary injunction is something you will encounter if you receive a summons for a divorce action in Colorado. It is a legal order not to do certain things, such as destroy property that belongs to your ex-spouse or spend large sums of money from a joint account, until the dissolution of your marriage or another court order ends the injunction. Learn more about preliminary injunctions to avoid doing something that could get you into legal trouble during a divorce case in Colorado.
What Is a Preliminary Injunction?
Emotions can run high during a divorce. One or both parties may be inclined to do something rash to take out their anger or frustration, such as destroy property that belongs to the other person. In an effort to make sure nothing substantial happens that could change the financial situation of one or both parties, the courts automatically make an order during a divorce case called a preliminary injunction.
A preliminary injunction aims to protect the status quo of each spouse before a divorce. It is a temporary order that will only last as long as your divorce case unless another order of the court says otherwise. It automatically goes into effect in every Colorado divorce case once the summons has been served. The language of a preliminary injunction can be found in Colorado Revised Statutes Section 14-10-107(b)(l).
What Are the Terms of a Preliminary Injunction?
The purpose of a preliminary injunction is to require both parties to maintain the financial state they were in during their marriage as much as possible during a pending divorce. It is meant to prevent drastic financial changes that could negatively impact property division – especially changes made intentionally by one spouse to harm or inconvenience the other. A preliminary injunction in Colorado automatically sets the following restrictions:
- Neither party may dispose of any marital property without the consent of the other party or an order from the court. This includes transferring, encumbering, concealing or destroying the property. There are exceptions for the usual course of business or the necessities of life.
- Neither party may engage in extraordinary expenditures without notifying the other party of the intent to do so. The party must also give a detailed account to the court of all extraordinary expenditures made after the preliminary injunction is in effect.
- Neither party may disturb the peace of the other party. This can mean many different things, but it generally prohibits interfering with the other party’s life or causing undue stress or irritation.
- Neither party may move minor shared children out of the state without the consent of the other party or an order of the court.
- Neither party may cancel, terminate, modify or stop paying for an insurance policy that provides coverage to either of the parties or minor children, or a life insurance policy that names any of the parties or children as beneficiaries.
If the terms and parameters of the injunction are unclear, discuss them in more detail with a divorce attorney in Colorado. If you believe your spouse may engage in any of these actions, serve the divorce summons sooner rather than later. If your spouse has begun any of these actions, he or she must cease when the injunction goes into effect.
What Happens If You Breach a Preliminary Injunction?
Going against a preliminary injunction by dissipating marital assets is against the law in Colorado. Family court judges do not take these infractions lightly, as they can interfere with the equitable distribution of a couple’s assets. If someone breaches the terms of this temporary injunction in Colorado, that person may be held in contempt of court. This can result in penalties such as fines and jail time.
For more information about a preliminary injunction in a divorce case, contact a divorce attorney in Fort Collins.
If you and your spouse have decided to get divorced, it can be uncomfortable and inconvenient to continue living together. It is normal to want to begin your new life as soon as possible by moving out. Whether or not you should move out of your house before a divorce, however, depends on the circumstances. Weigh the pros and cons carefully before making your decision.
Does Moving Out Affect Your Divorce Case?
Moving out of your house can affect your divorce in a few different ways. First, it can establish a date of separation. Moving out can mean that you have officially separated. This is relevant, as the courts will look at the date of separation to determine separate vs. community property. In this way, moving out could benefit you. Any income or assets you acquire after you move out may be classified as your separate property, keeping it safe from division with your spouse in a divorce.
Moving out also will not hurt your claim to the family home. Choosing to move out does not mean you are giving the home to your spouse in the divorce. The courts will determine the division of property based on what is fair and equitable according to the circumstances. This may mean giving the house to one or both of you. The courts will not automatically give your ex-spouse the house because you moved out.
Finally, moving out may or may not impact child custody. If you had no choice but to move out due to a domestic violence situation, the courts will take this into account. Otherwise, it is important to establish a parenting plan with your estranged spouse, along with a written agreement that the parent who moves out isn’t forfeiting any parental rights by doing so. This can help ensure your move does not interfere with child custody or visitation.
Can You Force Your Spouse to Move Out?
In rare circumstances, you may be able to force your spouse to move out of your shared home during a divorce. Typically, the only circumstance where this is allowed is if your spouse is engaging in abusive behavior. Otherwise, the only other possibility to force your spouse to move out is if you own the house on your own and it is not part of community property. This entitles you to decide whether or not your spouse can continue living there.
If you are in a domestic violence situation and do not feel safe in your home, do what is necessary to keep you and your children safe. If you have the financial resources to move out of your house, do so. Otherwise, you can ask the courts to assist you in forcing your estranged spouse to move out of the house instead.
In a divorce case that involves domestic violence or abuse, you have the right to obtain court orders for solutions such as temporary full custody of children and an emergency protective order. A protective order can force your ex-spouse to stay away from you and move out of the house. If you believe you or your children are in danger during a divorce case, consult with an attorney immediately for emergency safety measures before moving out.
Is Moving Out the Right Choice for You?
Your divorce case can take months or even years to be resolved. In this time, you or your spouse may decide it’s best for one of you to move out. However, it is important to analyze the benefits and potential risks of moving out to your divorce case before leaving your family home. You have to consider not only your physical and mental wellbeing when making your choice, but also the potential legal ramifications.
Each divorce case is unique. Get help from a Colorado divorce attorney to make the best decision for you and your family. A lawyer can answer your questions and concerns related to finances, property division, child custody and more when deciding whether or not to move out of your house before a divorce.
Posted in Divorce on March 15, 2021
When preparing for a divorce in Fort Collins, Colorado, you can do certain things to reduce your financial risk and have greater control over the outcome of your case. It is critical to avoid common mistakes that lead to financial issues for a spouse post-divorce. Work closely with a divorce lawyer for assistance with the financial side of a divorce.
Filing for Divorce Too Late
Depending on your situation, when you file for divorce could make a substantial difference in your financial outcome. You do not want to wait too long to file for divorce, as this could lead to more of your assets belonging to your spouse. Any money, property or assets you acquire while still married (and not separated) will become marital property that is owned by both of you and subject to division during your divorce.
Filing for Divorce Too Early
You also do not want to file for divorce if you are only months away from being eligible for a certain type of financial award. In Colorado, the length of a marriage affects the amount awarded in alimony. You will also qualify for Social Security benefits from the higher-earning spouse if you have been married for 10 years or longer. Of course, if you are in an abusive relationship, you should not wait. Do your research and work with a divorce attorney to file at the right time for you.
Not Understanding the State of Your Marital Assets
It is important to know as much as possible about you and your spouse’s income and assets before divorce. Gather copies of financial documents, including bank account statements, tax returns, credit card statements and pay stubs. If you are not the person who handles marital assets, hire an attorney who can gather this information for you. Otherwise, your spouse will have an advantage during settlement negotiations.
Being Emotionally Attached to Assets During Negotiations
Do not let your emotions control your divorce settlement. Going into negotiations with fear, anger or an emotional attachment to any assets could negatively affect your case. If you are emotionally attached to the family home, for example, you might fight to keep it – even if you cannot afford the mortgage and bills post-divorce. Go into negotiations with a cool head to avoid making detrimental financial mistakes.
Divorce mediation allows you to remain in control of your finances after a divorce. During mediation, you and your spouse decide the terms of your divorce agreement. If you skip mediation and go straight to a divorce trial, however, your fate will be in the hands of a judge. Being willing to negotiate, compromise and settle could help you financially.
Ignoring the Tax Implications of a Divorce Settlement
The amount of taxes you and your spouse must pay during separation and divorce can be hefty. Both you and your spouse will be liable for taxes owed on joint returns. Furthermore, you may face taxation on marital assets you receive via a divorce settlement. Working with a tax professional can help you save money in taxes before you agree to a settlement.
Having a Plan for Long-Term Financial Security
It is common to only think about the immediate future during a divorce case. Do not be so preoccupied with your current finances and assets, however, that you ignore your long-term financial security. Arrange a divorce settlement not only for your immediate future, but for years down the road as well.
Failing to Hire the Right Professionals
Do not attempt to handle your divorce case and related financial implications on your own. With the right professionals, you may have the power to save more money than you spend on their hiring fees. Work with a divorce lawyer, accountant, forensic accountant, tax professional and others for the best possible financial outcome for your divorce case. Hiring the right Colorado divorce attorney can allow you to avoid major financial mistakes.
Posted in Divorce on February 18, 2021
There are two main ways to dissolve a marriage in Colorado: annulment and divorce. While both effectively end a marriage, they are two distinct processes with very different legal consequences for a couple. With a divorce, each spouse is single but recognized as having been previously married. With an annulment, it is as if the marriage never existed.
What Is an Annulment?
An annulment in Colorado does more than terminate or dissolve a marriage. It does not end a marriage; it makes it so that, legally, the marriage never existed in the first place. It holds that the marriage was never valid to begin with, and therefore never existed. A divorce, on the other hand, does not erase the marriage as if it never happened.
Things may not go back to exactly the way they were prior to marriage after a divorce. Although both spouses will technically be single after a divorce and allowed to remarry, they will retain the legal status of being previously married. This could change aspects of both spouses’ lives, such as taxation and legal matters. After an annulment, however, things will return to exactly the way they were before the marriage.
Note that a religious annulment is different from a legal annulment. In the Catholic Church, the diocese, not a court of law, decides whether or not a couple can obtain an annulment. A diocesan tribunal may grant a religious annulment on grounds of fraud, misrepresentation, lack of maturity or emotional instability. A religious annulment allows a couple to remarry in the Catholic Church.
Who Qualifies for an Annulment in Colorado?
The grounds for annulment vs. divorce are very different. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, meaning an individual does not have to prove fault to obtain a divorce. Instead, a divorce is typically based on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. To get an annulment in Colorado, however, the filing party must establish legal grounds for doing so. Acceptable grounds for an annulment include:
- Misrepresentation of a material fact, such as already being married
- Concealment of a major fact, such as a felony conviction
- Lack of age of consent
- Lack of mental capacity
For a marriage to be annulled in Colorado, the courts must see it as either void or voidable. A void marriage was never valid to begin with, such as one involving bigamy or incest. A marriage that is voidable may be able to exist under certain circumstances, such as the consent of an underage party’s legal guardian. In a voidable marriage, it is up to one of the spouses to request the annulment.
Is a Divorce or Annulment Right for You?
The legal processes behind an annulment vs. divorce are also different. In a divorce case, the couple must work out issues such as spousal support and property distribution. In an annulment, these topics may not be open for discussion. In an annulment, everything will go back to the way it was before the marriage. Both spouses will keep the property they had before the marriage, and spousal support is generally not on the table.
With a divorce, on the other hand, the couple will have the chance to work out a settlement arrangement determining these matters, as well as child support and child custody if there are children from the marriage. If the couple cannot work out an arrangement, a judge will make a determination on property division and other matters using relevant state laws during a divorce case.
If you are not sure whether to end your marriage with an annulment or a divorce, contact a family law attorney in Colorado for an in-depth legal consultation. An attorney can carefully review the facts of your case to help you decide which route is best for you and your family. Then, your lawyer can represent you during what may be a complicated legal matter.
Posted in Divorce on February 15, 2021
The law in Colorado classifies all assets and debts accumulated during a marriage as marital property. In a divorce case, the courts have the jurisdiction to divide marital property. The courts in Colorado do this using the law of equitable division, meaning a judge will split marital property according to what is fair. Understanding what happens to marital debt after a divorce in Colorado takes analyzing your specific circumstances.
Is the Debt Separate or Marital Property?
Under Colorado’s equitable division law, the courts will divide debt in a way that is fair depending on each spouse’s financial situation. The courts will only have the legal right to divide marital property, however, not separate property. Marital property is anything acquired by either or both spouses during the marriage. Separate property, on the other hand, is anything acquired by just one spouse prior to the marriage or after the date of legal separation.
A common misconception is that debt created in only one spouse’s name during a marriage, such as a spouse taking out a credit card in his or her name, will automatically be classified as separate property. This is not necessarily the case. Most debts accumulated during a marriage are classified as marital property, even if the account is only in one spouse’s name.
Any debt your spouse acquired prior to your marriage, including credit card debt or student loans, will remain his or her separate debt. In a divorce, you will not be obligated to share a portion of your spouse’s separate debt. Any debt acquired during the course of your marriage, however, will be subject to division, meaning you could absorb a portion of marital debt even if you were not the person responsible for acquiring the debt.
How Can You Protect Yourself From Your Spouse’s Debt After a Divorce?
If the divorce court assigns you a portion of your spouse’s debt in a property division agreement as part of your marital property, this could give you an added financial responsibility after you dissolve your marriage. The debts acquired in a divorce could also hurt your credit score. Certain legal strategies, however, may protect you from financial harm.
An attorney may be able to help you remove your name from a loan through a tactic such as refinancing. Your lawyer may also be able to arrange to pay the lender in full to protect your credit score. If this is not possible, your lawyer can help you liquidate the assets you have and use them to pay the debts or to create a more lucrative settlement with your ex-spouse. If the two of you can reach a settlement, you can avoid going to trial and having a judge divide assets and debts for you.
Another approach is to protect yourself with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement before a divorce. If you are engaged or recently married and not yet considering divorce but concerned about protecting yourself from absorbing your spouse’s debts, consider using a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to protect yourself from becoming liable for your spouse’s debts.
What If Your Ex-Spouse Declares Bankruptcy?
You will not automatically be absolved from your marital debts if your ex-spouse declares bankruptcy. In fact, a bankruptcy declaration by your ex-spouse could put you further into debt by making you the sole debtor liable for all marital debts. Your ex-spouse’s creditors could then turn to you for repayment. Unless you also declare bankruptcy, your ex-spouse doing so will only protect him or her from financial liability.
Understanding the division of marital debt after a divorce in Colorado, as well as protecting yourself from potential financial ramifications, may require assistance from a divorce attorney. Consult with a lawyer from The Law Office of Stephen Vertucci, LLC today for more information about how to protect yourself from marital debt.