THE REPRESENTATION YOU NEED IN ORDER TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
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.
If you and your spouse share a child during a divorce, one of you may end up owing the other child support, depending on the custody and support arrangement. If you believe you will have to pay your ex-spouse child support after a divorce, it can help to understand how the courts in Colorado calculate child support amounts. Start by understanding what the courts consider income.
How Do the Courts Calculate Child Support in Colorado?
Child support is a legal decree ordering one parent to pay a certain amount to financially support a child after a divorce. In Colorado, the law holds that both parents should share financial responsibility for a child after a divorce. A judge may use a child support order to make each parent’s contribution to childcare equal – thus allowing the child of a divorce to maintain the standard of living he or she enjoyed during the marriage.
When determining a child support amount in a divorce case, a judge will analyze factors such as:
- Both parents’ gross incomes
- The financial resources of either parent
- The custody arrangement
- How much time each parent spends with the child
- The needs of the child (medical care, education, etc.)
- The financial resources of the child
- The child’s standard of living before the divorce
It is possible to avoid having a judge determine your child support amount if you and your ex-spouse can agree to an amount on your own. If you and your ex-spouse can agree to a parenting plan, including custody, visitation and child support orders, a judge will most likely sign off on the settlement agreement if it is in the best interests of the child. Otherwise, your case will go to court in Colorado for a judge to decide.
What Is Considered Income?
It is important to understand exactly what the law considers income when determining a child support award. Under Colorado Revised Statutes Section 14-10-115, a parent’s adjusted gross income refers to his or her gross income minus pre-existing child support and alimony obligations. Income can refer to more than just the wages you earn at your place of employment, however. Income can refer to:
- Tips and commissions
- Nonmonetary employment perks
- Severance pay
- Pension plan
- 401(k) account
- Trust or estate income
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Veteran’s benefits
- Social Security benefits
- Gifts and prizes won
- Education grants
- Alimony from another ex-spouse
Income refers to your actual gross income if fully employed or your potential income if you are underemployed. If you try to intentionally avoid employment to diminish what you will owe your ex-spouse in child support, the courts in Colorado will impute income to you. It will estimate your child support payment obligation based on what you reasonably could be earning according to your work history, education and other factors. You must then meet your assigned child support obligation, even if it means getting a higher-paying job.
How to Report Your Income During a Divorce Case
You must list all sources of income on the financial disclosure form you submit to the courts at the beginning of your divorce case. You are obligated by law to fully disclose everything that constitutes a source of income under penalty of perjury. This means if you knowingly hide any source of income, no matter how small, you could face criminal charges and serious consequences.
If you are not sure whether the courts classify a certain type of earning as income, consult with a divorce attorney. A Fort Collins divorce lawyer can carefully review your case to help you identify what the courts consider income. Your lawyer can help you negotiate a child support agreement with your ex-spouse, decreasing your chances of going to court, or represent you at trial. Hiring a divorce lawyer to represent you can protect you from making critical errors, such as failing to disclose something the courts consider income.
You may not think something as trivial as social media could make an impact on a legal process such as a divorce claim. In law, however, social media activity can become evidence. What you post on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook could be used against you during a divorce case. It can be critical to the success of your case, therefore, to stay off social media until your divorce has been finalized.
What Content On Social Media Could Hurt Your Divorce Claim?
What you believe is harmless social media activity may be anything but. During a divorce case, your spouse’s defense counsel can search through all of your social media accounts – including those with strict privacy settings – for evidence to use against you. An attorney can twist almost anything you say or post against you during a divorce case.
It is wise to keep any new developments in your love life quiet until the completion of your divorce case. Updating your status to “In a Relationship” with another person could negatively affect your ongoing divorce. For example, your ex-spouse may be able to argue against giving you custody by showing that you are already introducing your child to a new person.
Photos of New (Expensive) Purchases
Don’t post any photos, videos or information about new purchases you made while going through a divorce case. This could be portrayed as you trying to reduce your financial assets in preparation for a divorce. Frivolous spending – such as on a new TV, car or boat – could also work against you if you wish to file a claim for spousal support.
Jokes or Threats About Hiding Assets
Never make light about hiding assets on social media (or off of social media). This is a serious crime during a divorce case. Even if you were only making a joke and weren’t actually going to hide assets from your ex, the courts will take it as a reason to investigate your financial status further. Whether or not the courts find any hidden assets, indulging in these jokes can position the courts against you.
Badmouthing Your Spouse Online
The courts will look at many factors when deciding something as important as child custody – including your social media activity. If you have several posts or comments badmouthing or threatening your spouse, this could impact your claim to custody if a judge thinks your behaviors or attitude could have a negative effect on your child.
Photos of You Enjoying Yourself
If part of your divorce involves allegations of domestic violence or abuse, photographs posted on social media where you are partying or celebrating could hurt your case. Your goal will be to prove that your spouse caused you emotional distress – something that will be harder to do with photos posted online of you enjoying yourself.
How to Use Social Media Wisely During Your Divorce
Your spouse’s attorney will be able to use almost anything you post online to hurt your case. Even if you think you’re being careful online, it can surprise you what a lawyer can twist around and use to portray you as an unfaithful, dishonest, unreliable or even violent person. The best way to keep yourself safe is by staying off social media entirely.
If you must use social media during an ongoing divorce case, remain discreet. Do not post any direct status updates or comments, especially about your divorce or your activities. Do not check-in to different locations or let your whereabouts be known. Do not post any images or videos online that reveal anything about your life. Tell your friends not to tag you in these types of posts, either. Never discuss your divorce with anyone online, even in private messages.
Before you delete old social media content during a divorce proceeding, consult with a divorce attorney. Even deleting things could make you look suspicious to a judge. Work with an experienced attorney to understand what to do and what not to do on social media during a divorce case in Colorado to fully protect your rights. A lawyer can help you avoid common mistakes.
Posted in Divorce on January 14, 2021
Divorce isn’t always mutual. In some cases, one spouse wants a divorce while the other refuses to cooperate. In Colorado, you can still get a divorce even if your spouse won’t sign the papers. If your spouse is in denial, however, you may have to deal with additional complications that delay the process. One of them is your spouse evading the service of the divorce papers.
About Colorado’s Required Service of the Divorce Papers
To file for divorce in Larimer County, you must submit the proper paperwork to the correct family court and pay the $230 filing fee. After filing, it will be your responsibility to arrange the service of the divorce papers on your spouse, who will become the respondent.
Serving the divorce papers means giving them or sending them to your spouse. This gives your spouse the opportunity to read over the papers and file a response. In Colorado, you must serve your spouse with a Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage and the Summons. A summons is usually an order to appear in court; in divorce law, however, the summons gives the respondent 21 days to file a response.
If your spouse doesn’t respond, the courts can proceed with an uncontested divorce after 91 days have passed since the summons. Your spouse will forfeit the right to contest, or argue, the terms of the divorce without a response. If your spouse does respond, you can enter into negotiations to reach a settlement. If you cannot locate your spouse to serve the divorce papers, you will have to take other steps before you can proceed with your case.
Locating Your Spouse
In Colorado, you cannot continue your divorce case until your spouse has been served with the petition and summons. First, try to serve the papers yourself if you know where your spouse has been living. If this works, simply give your spouse the divorce papers and an Acceptance of Service Form. Your spouse will sign this form in front of a notary to prove that you served him or her with the documents.
If you cannot find your spouse or do not wish to serve the papers yourself, you can have someone from the Larimer County court system do so for you. In most cases, the sheriff or constable in your county will step in to serve the divorce papers on your spouse. This service could take two or three weeks.
If your spouse continues to evade the service and the sheriff cannot locate him or her, the next step is hiring a private party to serve the papers. The courts may appoint a professional process server on your behalf, or you can locate a private party through a family attorney. This party is usually a private investigator who will have the resources to try to locate your spouse.
Working Around the Service Requirement Through Publication
In a situation where you, the sheriff and a private investigator have failed to locate your spouse, the courts in Colorado will allow you to use service by publication instead. This is a last resort only to be used when you can show you made sufficient efforts to locate your spouse but could not. You must obtain permission from the family court judge to use this method.
Service by publication means you will need to publish a notice of the divorce summons in one or two local papers each week for three or four consecutive weeks. A judge will give you the exact directions to follow to serve your spouse by publication. Once you have fulfilled this requirement and submitted notarized statements from the newspapers confirming the notice was published, a judge will continue with your divorce case with or without cooperation from your spouse.
If your spouse is evading service of the divorce papers, consult with a divorce attorney in Fort Collins for assistance with the serving process. A lawyer can help you take all of the necessary steps to proceed with your divorce.
Posted in Divorce on December 16, 2020
Divorce is a complicated process for any couple with children in Colorado, even under normal circumstances. When a child of the marriage has special needs, divorce can come with even more challenges. It is possible to get a divorce as the parent of a child with special needs with minimal financial and emotional stress. Overcoming the obstacles of your particular divorce case in Fort Collins may require assistance from a Fort Collins divorce attorney.
Custody Concerns When a Child Has Special Needs
The greatest concern for parents in a divorce case is usually child custody. You and your spouse have the chance to work out a custody arrangement between yourselves before the matter will go to a judge. All couples in Colorado have the opportunity to reach a settlement on custody, child visitation, child support and other matters before a judge intervenes. When it comes to dividing custody of a child with special needs, everyone involved will have to consider unique factors.
- If your child can mentally and emotionally handle sharing time between two households. Children with special needs are often highly sensitive to change and need stability.
- If it is safe for your child to go back and forth between two households, as well as how you plan on handling transportation.
- Whether your child has a nurse or caregiver that will need to accompany him or her to each household.
- How knowledgeable each parent is about the needs of the child and childcare, including how involved each parent has been with necessary services.
- How much time each parent will have to dedicate to caring for a child with special needs after the divorce.
You can increase your chances of working together with your ex on a custody agreement that works for the whole family by hiring a custody attorney. An attorney will understand Colorado’s divorce laws that apply to your specific situation and how best to navigate them. Your lawyer can oversee meetings and mediation with your ex to facilitate communication and compromises. If your divorce case does end up going to trial, your lawyer can represent you and your child’s best interests before a judge.
Special Needs Children and Child Support
The courts in Colorado will most likely need to deviate from the standard child support chart when determining financial matters for a child with special needs. It will be up to you or your attorney to document all of the expenses related to caring for your child special needs and to negotiate for a fair support award. You will need to consider factors such as your child’s current needs, future needs and whether you qualify for public benefits.
How long the paying spouse will have the child support obligation is also different when a child has special needs. While in most cases, a child support order ends when a child turns 18, this is generally not the case when a child has special needs. If the child with special needs will be dependent on the caregiving parent longer than the age of 18 or for life, the courts will extend the other parent’s child support obligation. The amount of child support may fluctuate based on the child’s changing needs and factors such as eligibility for Supplemental Security Income benefits at the age of 18.
Spousal Support Payments
In many cases, the spouse with primary custody of a child with special needs will have to make changes to his or her work-life balance after a divorce. The parent may have to quit his or her job or switch to part-time instead of full-time work. This will lead to a greater need for spousal support or alimony from the noncustodial spouse.
If one parent has to earn less to take on more parenting time with a child with special needs, the other parent may have to pay spousal support to make up for the loss of income. The amount awarded in spousal maintenance will depend on factors such as how much both parents earn, the custody arrangement and the length of the marriage.
For assistance with all aspects of your divorce with a child with special needs, contact an attorney to discuss your particular case.
Posted in Divorce on December 11, 2020
No one plans on getting divorced when they get married and start a family business together. If the marriage does end, issues related to the family business can lead to a complicated legal battle. You may not know how to divide your business or its assets fairly or how to prevent a judge from intervening. Use this information to successfully navigate your divorce with a family business.
How Does Colorado Divide Assets During a Divorce?
Part of how you will divide a family business is how the state handles property division in a dissolution of marriage. Colorado is not a community property state, but a marital property state. If a divorce case in Colorado goes to trial, a judge will divide property acquired during a marriage equitably. While this almost always means equally, an unequal split is possible if a judge deems it fair for both parties.
When dividing assets, a court will only touch marital property. This is property obtained together during the course of the marriage. It does not apply to a business purchased separately, brought into the marriage by one spouse, or given to or inherited by one spouse. All couples in Colorado can agree to a different property division scenario before a judge will intervene.
Who Gets to Keep the Family Business?
When it comes to dividing the family business, you and your spouse can either work together or go to trial. If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it may come into play. Otherwise, you and your spouse have the chance to work together to compromise on a solution that works for both of you. Many different options are available.
- One of you keeps the business. One spouse can keep the family business for him or herself after a divorce. The person who retains the business, however, will need to give the other financial compensation for the full value of his or her financial interest in the company.
- Both of you keep the business. You can agree to continue maintaining the family business together. If either spouse decides to get out later, the remaining spouse has the right to purchase the other spouse’s share of the business.
- Neither of you. You can decide to sell the business at its current market value and divide the profits between you, meaning neither person gets to keep the family business. This might be the right choice if you both desire a clean break.
- You create a trust. If you wish to protect the assets from a family business to give to a child, you can create a generational wealth trust. With this type of trust, your family can pass money from a family business to future generations, allowing it to grow and protecting it from taxes.
The best option for you and your business will depend on the circumstances. Working together with your spouse is the most effective way to remain in control of what happens to a jointly owned business. Increase your chances of a successful settlement by hiring a divorce lawyer.
A Lawyer Can Help
Dividing a business is a complex matter. You and your spouse will need to analyze your ownership structure, look at the interests you both have vested in the family business and understand the current value of the company. You will also need to think about how you plan on protecting your family’s business interests, including your child’s inheritance.
Having a family business can make divorce more complicated. If you and your spouse are having trouble working together on the right solution, an attorney can guide you through the process of mediation. This out-of-court process could help you compromise on a settlement and avoid going to trial. A Colorado family law attorney can accurately valuate the business of your company, help you with property division and represent you if the case goes to trial.
Posted in Divorce on November 23, 2020
It may come as a surprise to receive a Motion to Restrict Parenting Time in Fort Collins. You might never have expected your ex-spouse to take you to court to try to reduce the time spent with your child. If you have been served with this type of legal document in Colorado, read it immediately. Then, contact a Fort Collins divorce lawyer as soon as possible to respond to the motion promptly and correctly.
What Is a Motion to Restrict Parenting Time?
A Motion to Restrict Parenting Time is a legal document submitted to a family court judge to adjust an existing parenting time arrangement. There must already be a custody order in place for a parent to file a Motion to Restrict Parenting Time. The person filing will become the moving party. A parent may only file this type of request in Colorado if he or she has proper cause.
A new issue or circumstance must have arisen since the judge approved the initial parenting time order. According to Colorado Revised Statute Section 14-10-129(4), the only reason a judge will grant a Motion to Restrict Parenting Time is if the moving party can prove that the child is an imminent physical or emotional danger. Restricting parenting time is a drastic step that a judge will only allow if he or she believes it is in the best interest of the child.
How Should You Respond to This Motion?
If you receive a Motion to Restrict Parenting Time in Colorado, read it completely. It is important to understand exactly what your ex-spouse is asking a judge to do. Make a note of the time and date of your scheduled hearing, as well. You do not want to miss your hearing. Then, take the motion to a child custody lawyer in Fort Collins for a full review of the paperwork and answers to your legal questions. You and your lawyer will decide how to respond.
You have three choices in responding to a Motion to Restrict Parenting Time. If you do not wish to fight the change, you can do nothing. The judge will alter parenting time without giving you a say in the matter, in this case. If you do wish to defend against a Motion to Restrict Parenting Time, file a written response and participate in the hearing. Your third option is attending the hearing without filing a written response; however, it is wise to file a written response first so a judge has the opportunity to understand your position.
You have a deadline to respond to a Motion to Restrict Parenting Time. Do not delay, as this could put you at risk of the motion proceeding without your input. You must file a written response to this type of motion at least three days before your scheduled hearing date. You must also either hand your ex-spouse your written response three days before the hearing or mail it at least five days before.
Defend Your Parental Rights With Help From a Lawyer
Even if a judge granted a temporary restriction of your parenting time, it is common for the judge to deny the request at the actual hearing. You will have the opportunity to defend yourself ahead of a ruling. Hire an attorney to defend your rights. Legal representation is the best way to improve the likelihood of a successful defense.
Your lawyer can help you prove that the motion has no merit and that your ex-spouse only filed it out of spite, for example, or establish that the child is safe and properly cared for with you. If you are successful with your defense, you can also file a request to make your ex pay for your legal fees and attorney’s costs. A lawyer can help you present evidence and build a strong case in your defense to protect your parenting time in Colorado.
It is not unusual for one spouse to want to move away for a fresh start after a divorce in Colorado. When children are involved, however, moving away is complicated. Every citizen has the right to travel freely. You may have legal recourse as the noncustodial parent, however, if the move will negatively affect your child or infringe upon your custodial rights.
The Basics of Child Relocation After a Divorce
When determining all matters involving children, the courts in Colorado will do what is in the child’s best interests. This is the case for child support, child custody and child relocation. When a custodial parent wants to move out of the state with a child after a divorce, the courts will consider whether or not the move is in the child’s best interest. If the child has established roots in his or her community, with deep ties to school, church, family and friends, the noncustodial parent may have a case to require the custodial parent to stay in the state.
The courts will assess many factors when deciding whether or not a parent can leave the state with a child. A judge will look at the reason for the proposed move and your reason for objecting to the move, as well as the relationship between each parent and the child, whether the child will have family in the proposed location, whether it will be possible for you to have parenting time after the move, what impact the move will have on the child, and any other factors related to the child’s wellbeing.
In general, the Colorado courts prefer both parents to work together to make relocation work. A judge will typically sign off on a parenting plan or agreement created by a child’s parents. If this is not possible and the child relocation matter goes to court, a judge will try to balance each parent’s rights with the best interests of the child. A judge may or may not allow a custodial parent to leave the state with a child, depending on the circumstances.
What Can You Do to Prevent Your Ex From Leaving the State With Your Child?
You may have legal options if you do not want your ex to leave the state with your child. First, review your custody plan. If a judge gave you and your ex-spouse joint custody in the divorce, it is generally best for both parents to live near each other to carry out the terms of the custody agreement.
With a joint custody arrangement, you and your ex will have an equal say in where the child lives, as well as major decisions such as education, religion and health care. Although sharing custody can work long-distance, it is more difficult. If it will be so difficult that it infringes upon your rights or goes against what is best for your child, a judge may order your ex to stay within state lines.
Next, determine whether your ex-spouse fulfilled the requirements for moving out of state with a child. In Colorado, the custodial parent has to give written notice of a plan to move to the noncustodial parent. This plan must identify the reason for the move, the new location and a proposal for a new custody plan. As the noncustodial parent, you will then have the chance to negotiate a custody or visitation agreement with your ex.
You also have the right to file an objection to the move and to request a hearing to adjust your custody arrangement. You will go to court to try to prevent your ex from moving out of the state. You can use arguments such as your ex not having a valid reason for the move or the move taking a toll on your child’s emotional health. A judge may rule in your favor and stop the relocation if he or she believes moving out of state would negatively impact the child’s wellbeing. Work with an attorney for assistance with child relocation in Colorado for the best possible outcome.