THE REPRESENTATION YOU NEED IN ORDER TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
The COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic has created different challenges for different people. The virus has affected families and individuals in unique ways based on their jobs, living situations and legal matters. Divorced couples, for example, may encounter issues related to their government-issued stimulus checks. On March 26, 2020, the Senate approved a $2 trillion stimulus package granting $1,200 per adult and $500 per child in economic impact payments. As someone who is divorced or in the middle of a divorce, learn how your familial situation could affect your stimulus check.
Who Gets the Settlement Check in a Pending Divorce Case?
The U.S. Treasury is using American citizens’ direct deposit information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to distribute stimulus checks. If the IRS has a bank account on file for your family from the last time you did your taxes (for 2018 or 2019), this is the account that will receive the stimulus check. If the IRS does not have a bank account on file for you, it will send your household a check instead.
If you and your spouse still share a joint account while your divorce case is pending, you may divide the stimulus check yourself equally. If, however, one of you took over the account that used to be your joint account, that person could receive the full value of the stimulus check. Your ex-spouse may hand over your portion of the check if you ask. Otherwise, be sure to list the lost stimulus payment as part of what your spouse owes you during the division of your marital assets.
Notify the IRS of the update to your filing status right away if you have not yet received your stimulus check. It might not be too late to tell the IRS about your divorce or separation and receive a separate stimulus check. Change your filing status through the IRS.gov website. Then, submit your 2019 taxes – filing as separated or single – as soon as possible if you have not already done so. Updating your filing status could help you avoid your ex-spouse receiving your stimulus check.
How Are the Payments for Children Allocated to Co-Parents?
Through the stimulus package, each household with children who were under the age of 17 as of the 2019 tax filing season will receive an additional $500 per child. Unfortunately, both co-parents will not receive $500 each. Each couple will only receive one $500 payment per child, delivered into the account of the parent with physical custody of the child, in most cases.
The parent who will receive the $500 child stipend is the one who listed the child as a dependent on his or her last tax return. If the wrong parent received the $500 payment for childcare, you will hopefully be able to work it out with your spouse. If not, you may take the matter to court electronically or via mail in Larimer County.
How Can Child Custody or Support Be Impacted?
COVID-19 may create cause for concern for many parents over the safety of their children as they travel from one household to the other. In most cases, parents can work out a temporary arrangement that is in the child’s best interests, such as skipping in-person visits and making them up at a later date, or continuing with the normal agreement with extra safety precautions. With a new temporary agreement, parents should submit the request to a judge to make it official. It is against the law for one parent to withhold custody from another parent, even during COVID-19.
COVID-19 also does not automatically release a parent from his or her child support responsibility. If the coronavirus has impacted a parent’s ability to work, resulting in a lack of funds to keep up with child support payments, it is that parent’s responsibility to submit a child support modification request to the courts. If a parent is behind in child support payments, the government may seize or garnish that person’s stimulus check to pay off the debt owed. For more information regarding the stimulus check and your particular situation, speak to a family law attorney near you.
Every divorce case is unique. Your divorce will not look like anyone else’s. You may be able to predict what to expect from your divorce, however, if you understand your divorce type. In general, your divorce in Colorado will either be contested or uncontested. If you believe you have an uncontested divorce, take some steps to prepare yourself and your family for the process ahead. One of these steps may be hiring a lawyer, depending on the situation.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
Contested vs. uncontested is an important distinction that could affect what the rest of your divorce case looks like. An uncontested divorce is typically the simplest kind, while a contested divorce can be complicated and lead to a legal battle at court. An uncontested divorce means you and your ex-spouse either agree to the terms of the divorce right away or can work together to eventually agree.
Uncontested divorces are most common among couples who are open minded and able to compromise with one another. If you and your former spouse have animosity toward each other, are prone to fights or are unwilling to compromise, an uncontested divorce might not be possible. Many couples can achieve uncontested divorces by working with lawyers and mediators.
An uncontested divorce means you and your spouse will ultimately be able to reach a divorce settlement agreement – a legal contract outlining the terms of your split. If you can achieve a settlement agreement, you and your ex-spouse will not have to take your divorce case to trial in Colorado. Instead of bringing the matter to a judge and having him or her rule on the final terms of your divorce, you will remain in control.
A settlement agreement during an uncontested divorce should include detailed descriptions of how you and your former spouse wish to settle asset division, child custody, child support and/or alimony. If you have children, your settlement must include a parenting plan that breaks down physical and legal child custody, as well as issues such as holidays and vacations. A divorce lawyer in Colorado can help you prepare a fair settlement agreement.
Preparation of a Judgment of Divorce
The divorce judgment packet is the final bit of paperwork you will receive during your uncontested or default divorce case. It finalizes your divorce and sets the terms you and your ex-spouse agreed upon into motion. It will contain official forms and declarations finalizing all the issues related to your divorce case. If you and your former spouse drafted your own judgment of divorce, a lawyer can review it for accuracy before submitting it to a judge for approval. It will be difficult to rectify a judgment once the judge finalizes the order.
Seek Help From an Expert Lawyer
You and your ex-spouse may be able to handle an uncontested divorce case on your own, working out the details of property distribution, custody and other matters between yourselves. Many couples, however, benefit from the professional advice of an unbiased third party. Hiring a Colorado divorce attorney could facilitate conversations and compromises between you and your ex-spouse, improving the odds of a successful uncontested divorce that does not have to go to court.
If you have not yet begun the divorce process but wish for a simple uncontested divorce, a lawyer may be able to help you work together with your spouse to avoid conflicts. Working out the terms of the divorce together, with assistance from a divorce attorney, could save you time and money by enabling you to avoid trial. Your lawyer can help you work through complicated matters, such as high-value assets or child custody, while protecting your rights. Use a lawyer for your uncontested divorce case for the best possible outcome.
Posted in Divorce on May 4, 2020
It is an unprecedented time for couples around the world as the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic continues to alter life as they know it. If you are dealing with anxiety related to COVID-19 on top of the stress of a divorce, you might feel like you are floundering. Luckily, help is available. You are not alone in how you feel – nor do you have to tackle a difficult divorce case by yourself during the pandemic. Help from the right professionals, plus a few unwinding techniques, could help you get through this tough time.
Make Your Health and Well-Being a Top Priority
It can be easy to overlook your needs in the midst of a pandemic…especially if you are a parent. It is normal to put your children first. While it is important to ensure the well-being of your kids, make time for self-care as well. You cannot give your children your best version of yourself if you are feeling anxious, stressed or worn out because of the coronavirus or your divorce. Do what you can to take some time for yourself, even if it is only 15 minutes a day.
For instance, take time in the morning, before your kids are awake, to read or write in a journal. Try self-care techniques such as taking a bath, using a relaxing face mask, exercising at home or connecting with friends (virtually, of course). Do something you enjoy for at least a few minutes a day to fill your cup before you try to fill the cups of others. Even if you only have time to think of a few things you are grateful for each day, this habit can help carry you through quarantine, a divorce, job loss and many other challenges that may feel insurmountable.
The coronavirus does not have to interfere with your ability to speak to a mental health professional. If you are feeling anxious, depressed, stressed or simply like you need to talk to someone, you have many different online options available. Set up an online therapy program such as Talkspace or Betterhelp to speak to a real licensed therapist over live chat and video conferencing. You can speak to a specialist for a variety of mental health needs without leaving your home. Do not wait to get the help you need from a professional, especially if you are also dealing with the added stress of a divorce during COVID-19.
Focus On Your Children
Once you take care of yourself, you will be better equipped to take care of others. When pressures involving your job, loss of a job, finances or your divorce feel overwhelming, focus on your children. Create a routine to help your kids have greater stability during this uncertain time. A routine can also give you some respite during your day while your kids are occupied with online lessons or homework.
Do your best to keep life as normal as possible for your children. Try not to argue with your spouse in front of the kids or take out the stress of your divorce on them. If you are concerned for the safety of your children in a domestic violence or abuse situation, reach out to a national hotline or your family law attorney for immediate assistance. An attorney can help you with emergency protection orders to help ensure your child’s safety and well-being.
Seek Help From a Professional
COVID-19 might prolong your divorce timeline. Try not to let it get to you. Divorce is a big decision you should not rush. The extra time might even have positive effects, such as giving you and your spouse a chance to cool down enough to agree on the terms of your divorce rather than having to go to trial. Stay in touch with your legal team. Contact your divorce lawyer and ask for regular updates if he or she is continuing your divorce case virtually. Staying in the know could help you combat stress and anxiety related to your divorce. Speaking with your lawyer can also help you realize you are not alone during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if it feels like it sometimes.
The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching implications. It has affected most aspects of life…including marriage and divorce. Couples quarantining together have given rise to speculation of divorce rates increasing, while couples in the middle of divorces are wondering how the virus will affect their cases. Take a look at how the coronavirus has affected divorce for an idea of what to expect.
Is COVID-19 Leading to Higher Divorce Rates?
Several news reports from around the world have confirmed what many divorce lawyers have suspected: lockdowns, self-isolation and quarantine have strained marriages past the point of reconciliation for thousands of couples. One article from the New York Post quotes lawyers from NYC confirming an uptick in the number of divorce cases related to COVID-19, while another from Business Insider reports a spike in divorce cases filed in Xi’an, China upon the lift of its mandatory lockdown.
Divorce lawyers and relationship experts speculate that the rise in divorce petitions has a few different reasons. Couples that might normally have spent more time apart are now stuck with each other for weeks, leading to an increase in stress, frustration and fights. Co-parenting while the family is quarantined may also present new challenges or issues that parents may be unable to overcome. Some couples were already on the brink of divorce, only to have issues related to the coronavirus finally push them past the breaking point. Financial problems connected to job losses are also adding to marital stress and an increase in divorce rates.
How Has the Coronavirus Changed the Divorce Process?
On top of increasing the number of divorces, the coronavirus has also altered the legal process. Most courtrooms in Colorado have temporarily closed or significantly reduced the number of cases accepted, leading to longer wait times than usual for a couple to have a judge hear a divorce case. If your divorce requires a trial, you will most likely have to wait until your county lifts its social distancing requirements and the courts are back in regular session to complete your divorce case.
If you can work out a divorce settlement agreement with your spouse, however, it might be possible to get a divorce without going to court. Some courts have implemented technologies to allow couples to file documents electronically and attend court sessions via videoconferencing. Most divorce lawyers in Colorado are also offering telephone consultations, online document collection and e-signatures on legal documents to help initiate and/or complete divorce proceedings virtually. Many judges are ruling on petitions remotely to finalize them. Ask an attorney if it will be possible to file for divorce or continue a case you filed before COVID-19.
Can I Start Divorce Mediation Now?
The pandemic might have a significant impact on your divorce timeline depending on the circumstances. Many couples trying to divorce during the COVID-19 pandemic are receiving notices from their lawyers explaining that they will have to wait until the country lifts its social distancing regulations to file or continue a case. Others, however, are having good luck with telecommunications and virtual proceedings. Each case and county are unique. Call a lawyer in your county to find out if you and your spouse can start divorce mediation now.
How Will This Affect My Children?
The coronavirus might impact child custody by making it impossible or unsafe for co-parents to take turns with the kids according to their custody agreements. It might be necessary for you and your spouse to work out a temporary custody modification to accommodate social distancing or quarantine requirements. Make sure you do this with help from a lawyer rather than making a verbal agreement. The same is true if you need to modify a child support agreement. If you lost your job because of COVID-19 and can no longer pay child support, contact a lawyer to submit an official modification request. Working closely with a lawyer during this unprecedented and uncertain time can help you get trusted answers to your questions.
Divorce mediation is not the same as a court trial. It is a pre-trial meeting in which you and your spouse – with or without legal representation – work out the details of your divorce agreement without a judge’s intervention. You will have the power to agree or disagree with the terms of the divorce during mediation. You are not under oath to tell the truth during mediation. Lying during mediation, however, could have negative repercussions on your divorce case. If a judge finds out you lied in divorce mediation, this could affect decisions such as child custody and support.
You Will Not Face Criminal Charges
Lying during divorce mediation is generally not a crime. In most situations, it will not come with criminal repercussions like lying under oath during a trial (perjury) could. Perjury is a crime in Colorado in which a person knowingly lies while under oath or authorized by law to tell the truth. The penalties for perjury can include prison time of up to six years, as well as fines of up to $500,000. Perjury is a Class 4 felony in Colorado. Lying during divorce mediation is not perjury, however. Prosecutors typically cannot charge you with a crime if someone catches you lying during mediation. Yet you could face other significant consequences, such as being held in contempt of court. Contempt of court can lead to expensive fines and potential jail time.
You Could Lose Your Case
Even if lying during divorce mediation does not constitute a crime in Colorado, a family law judge could take strongly to the deception. A judge could use proof of a lie during mediation as evidence that you are not a fit parent or do not deserve certain awards, such as spousal maintenance (alimony). The judge can see lying behaviors as a negative against one spouse when making other important decisions as well, such as where a child should live.
It is up to a judge’s discretion during child custody hearings in Colorado to determine the fitness of each parent to have physical and/or legal parenting responsibilities. A parent’s fitness can involve many factors, including his or her relationship with the child, ability to care for the child, history of domestic violence, criminal convictions, and alcohol abuse. It could also involve the parent’s willingness to lie during court processes. Proof that one parent lied could give a judge a reason to award primary child custody to the other parent.
The severity of your lie can determine its consequences during divorce mediation. If you lie about your income level, for example, this could have serious penalties. Your income level can decide matters such as how much you will owe your ex-spouse in child support. If the issue you lied about impacts your children, a judge will most likely take the lie very seriously. A major deception could impact the outcome of your divorce hearing. Minor deceit, however, may not play a role in the future of your divorce case.
How to Prove Your Spouse Lied During Mediation
If you believe your spouse is guilty of lying during divorce mediation, find evidence that supports this belief. Hire a divorce attorney to help you investigate your spouse and obtain proof of deceit. Proving to a judge that your spouse lied during mediation could work in your favor during discussions regarding child custody, child support and spousal maintenance. Seeking the truth could lead to a higher child support amount if your spouse was lying about his or her income, for instance. It could also lead to penalties against your spouse if he or she told a major lie.
If you believe your spouse lied during divorce mediation, find evidence of the lie to present to the courts rather than fighting back with deceit or inappropriate actions of your own. Proof of a lie could come in the form of asset and debt documentation. This may include bank statements, income tax returns, credit card statements, pay stubs and household bills that prove your spouse lied about his or her financial status during mediation. Formal discovery techniques with help from a divorce mediation lawyer could produce these documents and others that may help you prove deceit. You may also hire a private investigator. Working with an attorney could yield the best outcome possible for your divorce case.
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.