THE REPRESENTATION YOU NEED IN ORDER TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
Posted in Divorce on January 9, 2020
Divorce is never an easy process. It does not have to be as difficult as the movies make it out to be, however. You and your spouse can avoid screaming matches and tense divorce trials with the right tools, knowledge and tips. Five tried-and-true tricks from people who have been where you are can make your divorce case in Colorado as simple as possible.
Hire a Divorce Lawyer
Hiring an attorney might seem like you are complicating things when really it is the opposite. Partnering with a professional who has handled numerous divorce cases – many more complicated than your own – can give you access to information and resources that will facilitate an easier divorce process. An attorney can see the big picture. He or she is not as close to the subject as you are and will be able to see things clearly and from an unbiased perspective. Employing a divorce lawyer can give you sound advice during your divorce.
After you hire a lawyer, you can focus on your future instead of your divorce alone. While your lawyer handles legal matters such as filing your divorce paperwork and getting your affairs in order, you can spend time with your kids and start planning what your future will look like without your spouse. You will also not have to worry about making mistakes since your divorce attorney will know exactly what he or she is doing.
With or without a lawyer’s assistance, start collecting information from the beginning of your divorce case. Keeping a folder with all your important documents organized can make for a much more efficient divorce process. Rather than having to reschedule meetings or scramble to find a specific document, the information will be easily accessible. The typical divorcee involved in a case can benefit from having copies of credit card statements, pay stubs, bank account statements, property evaluations, tax returns, W2s, jewelry appraisals, retirement accounts and other information that may be relevant to the case.
Keep Things Private
If you want an easier divorce, keep things to yourself until after a judge has finalized the decree. Making your divorce public – especially via social media – can complicate your divorce and make for a more difficult case. Sharing on Facebook that you just bought a new car to cope with the split, for example, is something your ex-spouse could use against you during your divorce case, such as proof that you do not need alimony. Keep the details of your divorce private, only telling those that need to know. It may also make for an easier case to wait to date until after your divorce. Dating too early could interfere with child custody and/or alimony matters. Especially if you show you are going out a lot on social media.
Map Out Your Future Budget
One of the hardest aspects of divorce for most people is suddenly living on just one income. Try to ease the transition by mapping out what your life will look like post-divorce. Create a budget you will need to follow after the divorce. You may need to apply for a job for more financial independence or downsize into a smaller home or apartment. Preparing ahead of time for the financial fallout of a divorce can make the reality easier for you.
Be Willing to Compromise
Compromise is a magic word during divorce cases in Colorado. It can be what enables you and your spouse to skip a trial, save money and get divorced without a lot of hassle. Being willing to compromise with your spouse on the terms of the split can mean you both work out your own divorce arrangement rather than putting it in the hands of a judge. Your divorce case can move much quicker and more efficiently if you both can compromise – not to mention the peace of mind you can enjoy knowing the fate of child custody, property division and your financial future are not up in the air, as they would be during a divorce trial. Approaching your divorce with patience and an open mind can make all the difference.
Posted in Divorce on December 11, 2019
Although divorce rates have fallen in the U.S. over the last few decades, divorce is still common. The divorce rate as of 2017 was 2.9 per 1,000 people. With 787,251 divorces across 45 reporting states and 2,236,496 marriages, the national divorce rate is about 35%. This is 15% less than the common misconception that half of all marriages end in divorce. Still, with so many couples ending their marriages each year, it is natural to be curious as to the reasons why. Knowing why divorce is still so common in the U.S. could help you and your partner avoid a fallout.
Divorce Is More Acceptable
In decades past, divorce was not a socially acceptable option. Once a couple married, society expected them to stay together until the end, even with trouble in the marriage such as adultery or domestic violence. Today, however, divorce has lost much of its negative social stigma. While divorce is still a difficult process for a couple to endure, it may no longer bring with it social ostracization or shame. Divorce is much more socially acceptable for couples who cannot make their marriages work.
Women Have More Options
In the past, it was more difficult for a woman to initiate a divorce due to her dependency on her husband. Divorce would often mean no money, no way to get a job and no right to raise children. Today, however, women can leave unsatisfying or abusive marriages without fear of ending up on the street. Women have rights and protections safeguarding them, including many state and federal programs set up to help women after divorces. Alimony and child support laws have also helped women file for divorce and retain their independence.
It Is No Longer Necessary to Prove Fault
Many states used to enforce laws that required claimants to prove their spouses’ fault for the split. If the claimant could not prove that his or her spouse caused the divorce through some act of wrongdoing, such as committing adultery or a crime, that person could not get a divorce. Today, however, all states allow no-fault divorces. Seventeen states will only permit claimants to file for no-fault divorces, while all others still allow claimants to pursue fault-based divorces if desired. No-fault divorce laws make it easier to get divorced.
Self-Help and the Internet Make Divorce Easier
Thanks to the internet, many people can figure out how to file a petition for divorce online, without needing to hire a lawyer or go to court. Most states, including Colorado, have self-help divorce webpages with step-by-step instructions for how to initiate divorce. While hiring a lawyer could help in complicated divorce cases, many couples successfully divorce on their own using guidance from trusted online sources such as the Colorado Judicial Branch website. It is more common for couples who can compromise and work together on their divorce to use self-help options rather than hire attorneys.
Unrealistic Marital Expectations
Not only is it easier than ever to get a divorce – it is also harder to keep some modern marriages together due to unrealistic expectations of what a marriage should look like. Many people place high expectations a spouse or marriage can never live up to. When reality falls short of expectations, this can lead to dissatisfaction within the marriage and divorce. Busy lives, financial problems, stress and fights can lead to divorce if the couple was ill-prepared to deal with the realities of life together. If a couple has a realistic view of their relationship and marriage from the beginning, however, divorce is less likely.
Money is one of the most common reasons for divorce in the U.S. Financial insecurity, lack of household stability, resentment and working too much can all contribute to divorce. Statistics show that money is one of the most frequent reasons behind marital spats and major arguments. Fights over money may have increased in recent decades due to more pressure on a family to earn, gender earning inequality and the economic recession. Research suggests that well-educated couples with financial security are more likely to stay married in the U.S.
Posted in Divorce on December 11, 2019
When sorting through the factors involved in your divorce case, you may wonder if the length of your marriage will make a difference. Whether you have been married 1 year or 10, it could affect how the Colorado courts view your divorce case. While length of marriage will not impact every decision the courts make during a divorce trial, it can influence some matters – particularly spousal maintenance, or alimony.
Length of Marriage and Alimony Payments
Alimony is a court order that requires one spouse to pay the other a certain sum of money. Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-114 allows either spouse to request alimony during a divorce case. The purpose of an alimony order is to keep both parties’ qualities of life the same or similar as to how they were during the marriage. If one spouse is accustomed to the other paying the bills while he or she stays home to care for children, for example, that spouse may receive an alimony award to maintain his or her standard of living after the divorce.
Most alimony orders are temporary. The paying spouse must only continue making alimony payments as long as the court order stipulates, often long enough for the recipient to obtain the job training or experience he or she needs for financial independence. Some alimony awards, however, are permanent. They will continue indefinitely, or until the court signs an order modifying the agreement.
Length of marriage often plays a role in alimony decisions in Colorado. In addition to factors such as economic statuses, standards of living and the ages of each spouse, the total length of the marriage will also matter in determining whether one spouse will receive alimony, and if so, for how long. Length of marriage matters because it can determine how long one spouse has lived with a certain quality of life or economic status.
How Colorado Calculates Alimony
Each state has unique alimony laws that determine how the courts will rule on alimony payments. In Colorado, the two main factors that can impact alimony are the spouses’ incomes and the length of marriage. While state law does not issue a steadfast rule courts must obey, it does give a recommended formula for calculating alimony. It is up to each judge to use or not to use this formula. The formula generally only applies to cases where combined incomes amount to $240,000 per year or less.
The recommended formula for taxable spousal maintenance payments is 40% of both parties’ combined adjusted gross incomes (AGIs), minus the lower-earning spouse’s AGI. Nontaxable alimony payments (if both parties have combined monthly incomes of $10,000 or less) will use the same formula but will multiply it by 80%. Nontaxable alimony for parties with combined monthly incomes of more than $10,000 will use a multiplier of 75%.
According to state law, the recommended alimony formula will only apply to couples who have been married for at least three years. Couples with marriages less than three years long may not be eligible for a spousal maintenance order in Colorado. If extenuating circumstances exist, however, the courts may make an exception. If one spouse gave up a career to raise a child, for example, a judge may still award alimony even if the marriage lasted less than three years.
Duration of marriage will also impact the formula for how long an alimony order will last. If someone qualifies to receive alimony after a divorce, the courts will generally award payments for about one-third of the total length of the marriage (the Anderson Formula). After 20 years of marriage, the courts will order duration for closer to half of the total length of marriage. After 30 years of marriage, the courts are more likely to award permanent alimony. A judge, however, will have ultimate jurisdiction over all alimony arrangements in Colorado.
Posted in Divorce on December 11, 2019
Asset division is one of the key matters in any divorce case in Colorado. If you have discussed divorce with a family law attorney, you may have asked how the courts might divide you and your spouse’s shared assets and debts. Colorado is an equitable division state, meaning that while the courts will divide assets in a way that is fair, it will not necessarily be a 50/50 split.
Community vs. Separate Property
First, it is important to differentiate between the types of assets the courts will have jurisdiction to divide and those that will remain with the original owner. Community property describes everything you and your spouse acquired together during the marriage. This could include a home you purchased together, furniture you bought, vehicles you purchased after you wed and any debts you accrued while married. Separate property is all the assets you and your spouse owned before you married. It also refers to items given specifically to you as gifts and assets you inherited.
In a divorce case in Colorado, the courts will divide community property but leave separate property alone. Anything that belongs only to you as separate property will remain in your ownership after the divorce. The community or marital property you acquired together, on the other hand, will go before the courts for equitable division. If you have questions about which assets and debts are community vs. separate property in the eyes of the law, speak to an attorney in Colorado.
How Do Equitable Division Laws Work?
States use either equitable division or community property laws to split assets during divorce cases. In equitable division states such as Colorado, the courts will decide property division based on what is fair for both parties. What is fair may not be a 50/50 split. If one spouse racked up a mountain of debt, for example, the courts may assign that spouse a larger percentage of community property debts in a divorce than the other spouse. The courts will look at many factors to determine how to divide community property in Colorado.
- The proportion in which each spouse contributed to acquiring the property
- The values of each spouse’s separate property
- Each spouse’s economic circumstances at the time of divorce
- Which spouse will receive custody of children
- Any depletion of one spouse’s assets for marital purposes
During a divorce case in Colorado, the courts will look at these factors and others to decide how to allocate assets and debts to each spouse. The courts will not, however, look at fault for the divorce in determining asset division. The courts will not take adultery, for example, into consideration when splitting community property. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. It will not consider fault when making decisions about child custody, spousal support or property division.
How Will the Courts Split Your Assets?
Before the matter of asset division goes before a judge, you and your spouse will have the opportunity to create your own asset division plan. You can work together with your spouse and a divorce mediation lawyer during divorce mediation or arbitration to compromise on how to split your shared assets. If you both keep open minds and use assistance from a mediating attorney, you may be able to agree on asset division and have a judge sign off on your arrangement. If not, the matter will go to court.
During asset division in a divorce trial, a judge will review both sides of the case, analyze the assets and debts in question, and rule on how to split the property in a way that is fair. While this does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split, many judges will rule on this type of division to be fair to both parties. In a 50/50 split, each spouse will receive half of marital properties and half of marital debts. If you have questions about how a judge might divide your property, ask an attorney for more information.
Cheating is the driving factor behind many divorce cases. Cheating could be the reason one or both parties come to the courts with a divorce petition. Whether cheating will play a role in divorce proceedings, however, depends on the state. Most states permit petitioners to bring fault-based divorce claims on the grounds of adultery. In these states, cheating could influence a judge’s decisions, such as child custody or alimony. In Colorado, however, no-fault laws mean cheating generally will not affect a divorce.
Colorado Is a No-Fault Divorce State
Colorado is one of 17 true no-fault divorce states in the U.S. True no-fault states do not allow residents to file for fault-based divorces. In Colorado, therefore, a petition cannot list adultery as a reason for the dissolution of marriage. The only acceptable grounds for divorce in Colorado is an irretrievably broken marriage. Even if cheating is what broke your marriage, the state courts do not need to know the specifics. The courts only ask that either both parties agree the marriage is irretrievably broken or the respondent does not deny it.
Cheating will not impact any of a judge’s decisions during most divorce cases in Colorado. Since a petitioner cannot assert adultery as a reason for the dissolution, the judge will not consider it during child custody, property division or alimony decisions. In a fault-based state, on the other hand, a judge may use cheating as a determining factor in these important decisions. In general, the spouse that did not cheat could receive a greater portion of marital property and alimony in a fault-based divorce state.
Exceptions to the Rule
Although cheating will not play a factor in most no-fault divorce cases in Colorado, some exceptions to the rule exist. In extreme situations, adultery could impact a judge’s decisions. A judge in Colorado will not look at a spouse’s moral or ethical fitness, but he or she could assess how adultery might impact material aspects of the case. If you are curious as to whether cheating might affect your divorce, consult a lawyer.
- Marital waste. Colorado is an equitable distribution state, meaning a judge will divide marital property based on what is fair and equal for the couple. Many factors could influence a judge’s decision, including marital waste. This is a legal issue in which one spouse spends an excessive amount of money; for example, if a spouse spends an exorbitant amount on travel or hotel rooms while having an affair. In cases involving marital waste, a judge could award greater marital assets to the other spouse.
- A child’s best interests. In some adultery situations, a judge may see one parent’s romantic relationship as something that could potentially go against the child’s best interests. If the parent’s new spouse has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse, for example, the judge may not feel comfortable awarding that parent primary custody of the child. The child’s best interests will be the main standard in making this decision, however, not the fact that one parent cheated on the other.
- A prenuptial agreement. Some couples in Colorado sign prenuptial agreements before getting married. A prenuptial agreement could have an infidelity clause, in which case cheating would affect the divorce. An infidelity clause could state that if one spouse cheats on the other, the cheating spouse must face the consequences listed in the prenup, such as getting to keep fewer marital assets.
In most cases, it will not matter if your spouse cheated on you in Colorado. If your relationship fulfills one of the exceptions, however, you may need a lawyer’s assistance in navigating how adultery might impact your divorce. A lawyer could help you use your spouse’s adultery to your advantage, if possible, or defend you against such actions if you are the one guilty of infidelity. Regardless of your situation, a divorce attorney could help you work through a complicated divorce case in Colorado.
Posted in Divorce on November 18, 2019
During a divorce case, you may hear the terms fault and no-fault, especially at the beginning of the filing process. While every state allows claimants to file for no-fault divorces, some also give the option of filing for a fault divorce. It is important to understand the difference between these two types of divorce, the laws in your state and which type of divorce will serve your best interests. An experienced divorce attorney can review your case to help you answer these questions.
What Is the Difference?
A no-fault divorce does not allege that one spouse or the other caused the marriage to dissolve. Instead, it gives a mutual reason such as irreconcilable differences. A fault divorce, however, asserts that one spouse caused the split. The distinction is important because separate rules and laws apply to each type. If a spouse succeeds with a fault-based divorce, he or she could bypass rules such as the required period of separation as well as receive a greater portion of marital property. Proving fault for divorce in some states could also lead to alimony – or more alimony – for the not-at-fault spouse.
Although a fault divorce could come with benefits, it can also be more difficult to win and take longer to resolve. For a successful fault-based divorce, the filing party must prove fault. The party alleging fault must have evidence that the scenario fulfills the state’s requirements for fault divorces. In most states, these requirements include adultery, abandonment, domestic violence, a conviction for a crime or the physical inability to have sex.
Is Colorado a Fault or No-Fault Divorce State?
Not all states permit people to file for fault divorces. Currently, claimants can request fault-based divorce actions in 33 states. The other 17 states and the District of Columbia are no-fault divorce states. A true no-fault divorce state does not allow anyone to file otherwise. Colorado is one of them. In Colorado, the only grounds on which a person can file for divorce is no fault. State courts will never assign fault to one party or another during a divorce.
To get a divorce in Colorado, you must show the marriage is irretrievably broken. This is the only grounds for divorce in Colorado. Both parties must affirm under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or one spouse must claim it and the other must not deny it. Other requirements are that the petitioner has lived in Colorado for at least 90 days prior to filing. If the case involves a minor child, the child must have lived in the state for at least 180 days. Unless the courts find evidence proving otherwise, it will generally agree to hear the no-fault divorce petition.
When to Hire an Attorney
The courts in Colorado will not take fault into consideration when determining aspects of a divorce order such as child custody, child support, alimony or property division. The courts will instead use other methods to make these decisions, such as equitable distribution laws. Equitable distribution means the courts will split marital property according to what is fair, not necessarily what is equal. This often means the spouse that earned more money during the marriage will get to keep more marital property upon divorce.
A divorce attorney can help you navigate Colorado’s no-fault divorce laws. A lawyer can use the state’s divorce laws to your advantage as much as possible, arguing your side of the case before a judge, if necessary. An attorney could also help you during pretrial events such as mediation to improve the odds of settling your case while avoiding a trial. If you need assistance proving an irretrievably broken marriage, a lawyer can help you with this task in Colorado.
Posted in Divorce on October 14, 2019
Updating your friends and family about your divorce on social media may seem innocent enough…until your ex-spouse brings printed-out tweets to court to use as evidence against you during a custody battle. What you post on social media is not privileged information. It is available to the public and can be used against you during a divorce case. Be careful what you post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat – or stay off social media altogether until a judge has finalized the split. A bad social media habit could end up influencing a judgment against you.
Criticizing Your Ex
Ranting about your ex-spouse may make you feel better, but try to avoid doing it on social media. Making your criticisms public for the world to see could come back to hurt you during your divorce. If your remarks go as far as to threaten your ex-spouse, spread false rumors about him or her, or criticize his or her abilities as a parent, it could enter your case as evidence against you. Inflammatory remarks could also incite your spouse into making the divorce more difficult for you that it has to be. Remember, deleting a social media post or deactivating your account will not be enough to erase what you post. An investigator can still access deleted activity.
Joining a Dating App
It may be in your best interest to wait until after a judge has finalized your divorce to join a dating app or site such as Bumble, Tinder or Hinge. Joining one of these sites while still married could be proof of infidelity, even if you have separated from your spouse. Although Colorado is a no-fault state and will not take infidelity into account during a divorce, a judge may assess whether it is appropriate to have the kids around new partners in a custody case. Custody lawyers say the same tip applies to changing your relationship status on Facebook. Wait until after the divorce to bring new partners into the picture – at least publicly.
Showing Off New Purchases
A key concern during most divorce cases is property division. Colorado is an equitable division state, meaning a judge will divide marital assets based on what appears fair for each spouse. If you try to diminish your income on paper by purchasing items such as sports cars or vacation homes, do not post about it on social media. Your spouse could use these updates as proof that you are not being honest about how much you make. If a judge believes you guilty of hiding assets, it could be detrimental to your side of the divorce case.
Posting Party Pics
It can be tempting to show off how well you are doing post-split with photos or videos of you partying, but avoid posting anything like this to social media sites. Your spouse could use pictures of you at a party or club to degrade your character during a custody battle. Your spouse may be able to use it as proof of substance or alcohol use on your part – habits that will not impress a judge trying to determine which parent is most responsible. Your spouse could even take a casual photo of you having a beer at a baseball game out of context for custody purposes, so be careful what you and your friends post.
Sharing Location Information
Avoid checking into places such as bars, casinos, strip clubs or the hottest new restaurant on social media sites during a divorce. A history of location sharing in such establishments could serve as proof that you are an irresponsible parent during a custody dispute. It could also serve as proof of your financial stability if you are trying to fight for spousal maintenance. Tell your friends not to tag you in any location updates or photos. Everyone in your life should be on the same page about what not to post on social media. Going dark on social media for a few months during your divorce can be well worth the break. It could help you avoid serious pitfalls.
Posted in Divorce on October 14, 2019
Property division is one of the key issues discussed during a divorce case in Colorado. Property refers not only to the family home, but also income earned, bank accounts, savings and retirement funds. If you are getting a divorce, you may wonder how much of your income – if any – a judge will award your ex-wife. You may not realize, however, that your ex could also be eligible to claim money you make after a divorce. It is not always possible to cut your ex-spouse off financially, even after the finalization of a divorce.
Colorado Property Division Laws
Any money earned among spouses becomes marital property in the eyes of the law during a divorce case. In Colorado, the courts require equitable division – property division that is fair but not necessarily equal. Rather than splitting marital property down the middle, the courts in Colorado will assess the situation and rule on division according to what is fair for each spouse. If one spouse gave up a career to care for children, for example, that spouse may receive a larger portion of marital property than the other spouse.
A judge will look at several key factors when determining how to split marital property, including each party’s income, economic circumstances, which spouse gets the family home and child custody. Marital property includes all assets, income and debts the couple acquired during the marriage. Anything brought into the marriage by each spouse will remain separate property and will not become part of property division. Any money earned by one person during the marriage, however, may end up split between both spouses in a divorce. High asset divorces are especially complicated and you should speak with a high net worth divorce attorney to ensure the assets are fairly divided.
Spousal Maintenance in Colorado
A judge may award your ex-wife a portion of your income even after a divorce if she qualifies for spousal maintenance (alimony). Spousal maintenance orders one spouse to pay another a monthly or one-time sum. The goal of spousal maintenance is to keep both spouses’ quality of life the same as it was before the divorce. If you can afford to pay alimony and your ex-wife needs financial support, you may end up paying her monthly in maintenance.
Spousal maintenance levels the playing field between you and your ex-spouse post-divorce. It may not seem fair to have to pay your wife money you earn after the divorce, but if a judge deems it necessary, you will have to comply until the term of spousal support ends. A judge may give your ex-wife a set amount of time to acquire job training or experience that will allow her to support herself, or else make you pay alimony until your ex-wife remarries. Alimony could be permanent if the marriage lasted over 10 years and the judge deems it appropriate.
Calculating Spousal Maintenance
A judge in Colorado will look at certain factors when deciding whether to award alimony. The two most important are each spouse’s income and the length of the marriage. Although a judge will have the ultimate discretion in awarding spousal maintenance, Colorado law suggests an equation to come up with a fair amount: 40% of the parties’ combined adjusted gross income, minus the lower-earning spouse’s monthly adjusted gross income. When the couple’s joint income is $10,000/month or less, the formula will use an 80% multiplier. If it is higher, the judge will use a 75% multiplier.
For example, if you and your ex-wife earned $14,000 together before the split, a judge may multiply this by 40% (0.40) to get $5,600, then subtract the lower income. If your wife earned $4,000 per month, your spousal maintenance amount would be $1,600 per month. The judge would then apply a 75% multiplier against $1,600 for a final amount of $1,200 in maintenance. Depending on you and your ex-wife’s income, the equation may look slightly different in your divorce case. Speak to a divorce attorney to find out whether your ex-wife will be able to claim money after the split.
Posted in Divorce on September 17, 2019
A typical divorce case does not exist. Each case is unique, with complex elements such as child custody, spousal support and the division of assets setting them apart. One matter that could complicate a divorce case in Colorado is the desire to declare bankruptcy. Whether you should file bankruptcy before or after your divorce depends on your unique circumstances. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy at the same time as a divorce case, speak to a qualified and local divorce expert in Colorado for counsel.
Chapter 13 vs. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
The right solution for you will depend on many factors, including the type of bankruptcy you wish to file. The two main types of bankruptcies for individuals are Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is suitable for people who wish to reorganize their debts and assets, while Chapter 7 will liquidate assets and use them to pay off debts. If you have limited income and know you cannot repay your debts, Chapter 7 might be the right choice. If you believe debt reorganization and a payment plan are all you need to dig yourself out of debt, choose Chapter 13 instead.
The type of bankruptcy you choose can make a difference in your divorce case. While you will eliminate debts with both types of bankruptcies, you may want to file at different times depending on the situation. If you wish to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and begin a 3-to-5 year repayment plan, for example, it may be best to file after the divorce. Filing before divorce could mean you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse must work together to keep up with the repayment plan for the next few years. If you do not wish to stay connected to your ex-spouse in this way, file Chapter 13 bankruptcy after a judge finalizes your divorce.
If Chapter 7 is a better fit for your financial situation, you may want to file for bankruptcy before your divorce. This can erase marital debts and liquidate assets before you and your spouse enter into property division negotiations. Filing before your divorce can make for a simpler property division process. It can also help you start with a clean slate once you finalize your divorce. You should wait to file for Chapter 7 until after your divorce, however, if you desire this type of bankruptcy but do not qualify because your income is too high. Waiting until after your divorce could lower your assets enough to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
It Is Generally Best to Deal With Debts Before Divorce
Although the answer is not one-size-fits-all, in general, your goal during a divorce case should be to make the process as simple and streamlined as possible. A simple divorce process will save you time and money. Eliminating assets and debts that could create conflict between you and your spouse can simplify your divorce. If you have a mountain of debt, filing for bankruptcy before a divorce could eliminate an issue you would otherwise have to negotiate with your spouse. Filing bankruptcy before the finalization of your divorce could make the subsequent process simpler for all parties involved.
Speak to a Divorce Attorney in Colorado
The information here barely scratches the surface of bankruptcy and divorce. These are complex topics that deserve attention from an attorney. If you or your spouse are considering filing for bankruptcy and divorce around the same time, speak to a lawyer before making any decisions. What is best for you, your situation and your family will depend on the specific circumstances. For some people and financial situations, filing for bankruptcy before a divorce may make the latter process simpler. In other cases, filing after divorce may make the most sense, so the parties can first go their separate ways and then deal with finances. It is important to contact a divorce lawyer for tailored advice before you make any decisions.
Posted in Divorce on September 8, 2019
Dividing assets during a divorce is often one of the most complicated aspects of a split. Assets can include not only physical property such as a home or vehicle but also financial assets such as bank accounts, retirement savings, stocks, bonds and paid vacation time. During a divorce case in Colorado, the courts require both spouses to disclose their accrued paid leave on the Sworn Financial Statement Form. Vacation, sick and personal leave could be a substantial asset one or both parties own. This could change the division of assets during a divorce case.
Vacation and Sick Time as an Asset
The Sworn Financial Statement Form is a Colorado-Supreme-Court approved document that asks for specific salary and asset information. It requires each spouse to state whether he or she has a job, how many hours he or she works, pay rate, type of work, monthly gross income and miscellaneous income. It also asks for a breakdown of monthly expenses, including housing, utilities, food and health care costs. Finally, it requests details about the person’s assets, real and financial.
- Real estate
- Motor vehicles
- Recreational vehicles
- Cash on hand
- Checking and savings accounts
- Life insurance
- Furniture and personal property
- Stocks and bonds
- Retirement funds
- Separate property
The form also has a box for miscellaneous assets. It is here the spouse must check “Accrued Paid Leave (sick, vacation, personal)” if this asset applies. The Colorado courts may see this type of asset as one that is divisible during a divorce case. Paid leave could amount to a substantial sum depending on the spouse’s income and available leave. Someone who earns $10,000 a month, for example, could have $10,000 in unpaid leave assets if he or she has a month’s worth of unused time off. Thus, each spouse needs to be honest in recording accrued leave on the financial form.
How Does Colorado Divide Accrued Leave in a Divorce?
Each state divides property differently in divorce cases. Colorado is an equitable division state, meaning the courts will rule in a way that is fair, but not necessarily even. Rather than automatically splitting marital assets 50/50, the courts will analyze the unique case and determine asset division accordingly. The courts will look at factors such as each spouse’s economic circumstances, physical custody of children and the value of the properties in deciding asset division.
When it comes to dividing vacation and sick time, the Colorado family courts will only view accrued leave as a divisible asset if the person can cash it out. If the spouse has a right to request payment for this time from an employer, the courts will view it as part of marital property. Thus, it will be eligible for division along with the rest of the couple’s marital property (as long as the spouse accrued the time during the marriage, not before marriage or after separation). If the spouse cannot receive time off as a cash payment, however, it will not enter the case as a divisible asset. Each spouse will need to examine his or her employment agreement to find out whether the right to cash out accrued time off exists.
In cases where accrued time off does count as marital property, the courts can view it as part of that spouse’s income for calculations such as alimony and child support. The courts may also divide it between each spouse as part of a property division agreement. If the couple can agree to property division without court intervention, a judge will typically sign off on the arrangement the couple created. If the couple cannot compromise, however, the matter will go to a judge to decide. A judge in Colorado may decide to give none, part or all of one spouse’s accrued time off to the other spouse in a divorce case.