Family Law

Complete Financial Disclosure in a Divorce Case in Colorado

Posted in Divorce,Family Law on September 30, 2021

Legal Advocacy for Your Colorado Divorce

The financial side of a divorce case is often the most complicated part. To simplify things and keep them fair, the law in Colorado requires both sides of a divorce to disclose full and accurate information about their assets and debts to the other side, typically early on in the divorce process. Before you and your spouse can work out a property division settlement – or your case is handed to a judge – you must both submit complete financial disclosures. Failing to do so can result in serious penalties. 

What Does Complete Financial Disclosure Mean?

One of the first steps that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse must take to get divorced in Colorado is to submit your financial disclosure information and supporting financial documents. According to Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 16.2(e), both parties involved in a divorce or legal separation case are required to fully and accurately disclose their financial situations. This requirement is called an absolute duty, meaning that it is mandatory and not optional. 

You can fulfill this legal obligation by filling out and submitting financial affidavits before the deadline, which will then be provided to your spouse or his or her attorney. An affidavit is a sworn financial statement with details of everything that you earn and pay each month. In general, financial disclosures must be submitted within 42 days of the couple filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation in Colorado. Some of the information that a financial disclosure form must contain is:

  • Income from a job or business
  • Income from self-employment
  • Savings accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Pension plans
  • Investments
  • Real estate
  • Marital assets
  • Separate property
  • Income deductions 
  • Monthly expenses
  • Debts

The goal of complete financial disclosure is to give both parties involved in a divorce a clear view and understanding of the other party’s financial situation. That way, they can both make informed decisions on how to divide their marital property, as well as how to calculate child support and spousal support obligations. If the couple cannot reach a settlement and the divorce case goes to court in Colorado, the courts will use the financial disclosure affidavits in much the same way – to determine fair or equitable terms for the divorce.

What Are the Penalties for Incomplete Financial Disclosure?

Both spouses involved in a divorce case in Colorado must provide sworn financial statements with full and accurate information. In addition, they must provide the requested financial documentation to support their affidavits, such as tax returns, financial statements, bank account information and investment documentation. 

If either spouse fails to make complete and honest financial disclosures during a divorce, that person can face serious legal consequences and penalties, such as being held in contempt of court, having to pay a fine and even spending time in jail. In addition, the courts in Colorado may allow one spouse to reopen a divorce case if evidence is found that the other spouse committed a material omission or misstatement of disclosure.

When to Use a Divorce Lawyer in Colorado

 It is critical that financial affidavits and related forms are properly and accurately prepared and submitted by the deadline in Colorado. Failing to do so, even by mistake, can result in the party being accused of intentionally withholding information or hiding assets. The best way to make sure that you fulfill your legal obligation when it comes to complete financial disclosure in a divorce case is by working with an experienced attorney in Fort Collins

 Hiring a divorce attorney can allow you to rest and relax while a skilled and knowledgeable professional fills out confusing paperwork and submits it to the family courts on your behalf. An attorney can help you prepare all of the necessary forms and financial documents to submit to the courts during your divorce, making your dissolution of marriage as effective and efficient as possible. In addition, in the case of a spouse’s omission or misrepresentation, a lawyer can help you pursue justice. Contact an attorney today for more information.

What to Do When the Other Parent Isn’t Complying With Court Orders

Posted in Family Law on April 29, 2021

In a divorce case, both parties are required to follow all orders given by the court. This includes orders related to property division, child support, child custody and alimony. If your ex-spouse is not complying with a court-ordered parenting plan, you have legal rights as the other parent. Take action to protect your rights with assistance from a family law attorney in Colorado.

Follow Your Part of the Plan

Resist the urge to retaliate against your ex-spouse by failing to comply with your part of the court orders. This will not balance the scales or benefit you. Violating a court order could get you into significant legal trouble, as well as make it more difficult for you to convince a judge to help you enforce your parenting plan. Read your parenting plan carefully and make sure you understand your responsibilities. Continue keeping up your side of the agreement while you seek a resolution.

Document Everything

Some of the most common examples of noncompliance with court orders after a divorce are failing to pay child support or alimony, ignoring a custody agreement, and breaking the terms of a custody order by not allowing a child to talk on the phone with the other parent. No matter what type of court-order violation or noncompliance you are experiencing, document everything.

Unless your attorney recommends otherwise, document each violation with evidence that the other parent is refusing to follow the parenting plan. Write down the date and time of the violation, as well as a description of what happened. Evidence can also include screenshots of text messages or witness accounts.

Be sure to ask your attorney what the appropriate forms of evidence are to gather, as well as how to present your documents to the courts. Thoroughly documenting the other parent’s failure to fulfill his or her legal obligations can help strengthen your case when you file a Motion for Contempt or take other legal actions against your ex-spouse.

Go to Mediation

Many parenting plans and divorce settlement agreements have provisions that require both parties to attend mediation if there is a disagreement. If this is the case, you and your attorney will have to schedule mediation before you go to the courts to file any motions against your spouse for failure to comply.

During mediation, you and your ex-spouse will try to work through the issue at hand and achieve a resolution that works for both of you. You will each state your side of the case before a mediator – an unbiased third party who is trained in conflict resolution – who will help you come up with compromises and solutions. If mediation fails to resolve the problem, you can continue to court.

File a Motion for Contempt

A Motion for Contempt is a request submitted to the courts to punish a party for violating a court order. All court orders, including divorce decrees, are enforceable by holding the party in contempt of court. If the courts accept your motion, your ex-spouse can face penalties for violating court orders, such as having to pay a fine or even spend time in jail. If the breached court order involves a failure to pay child support, being held in contempt of court can also lead to remedies such as garnishing your ex’s wages until the back child support has been paid off.

Consult With a Family Attorney

If you get divorced and the other parent is refusing to obey a court order, consult with a family law attorney in Colorado. An attorney can give you legal advice tailored to your unique situation. If your case requires mediation or a Motion for Contempt, a lawyer can represent you and your child’s best interests in court. Discuss your individual case with an attorney at The Law Office of Stephen Vertucci today for more information.

Can I Move Out of My House Before Divorce?

Posted in Divorce,Family Law on April 27, 2021

If you and your spouse have decided to get divorced, it can be uncomfortable and inconvenient to continue living together. It is normal to want to begin your new life as soon as possible by moving out. Whether or not you should move out of your house before a divorce, however, depends on the circumstances. Weigh the pros and cons carefully before making your decision.

Does Moving Out Affect Your Divorce Case?

Moving out of your house can affect your divorce in a few different ways. First, it can establish a date of separation. Moving out can mean that you have officially separated. This is relevant, as the courts will look at the date of separation to determine separate vs. community property. In this way, moving out could benefit you. Any income or assets you acquire after you move out may be classified as your separate property, keeping it safe from division with your spouse in a divorce.

Moving out also will not hurt your claim to the family home. Choosing to move out does not mean you are giving the home to your spouse in the divorce. The courts will determine the division of property based on what is fair and equitable according to the circumstances. This may mean giving the house to one or both of you. The courts will not automatically give your ex-spouse the house because you moved out.

Finally, moving out may or may not impact child custody. If you had no choice but to move out due to a domestic violence situation, the courts will take this into account. Otherwise, it is important to establish a parenting plan with your estranged spouse, along with a written agreement that the parent who moves out isn’t forfeiting any parental rights by doing so. This can help ensure your move does not interfere with child custody or visitation.

Can You Force Your Spouse to Move Out?

In rare circumstances, you may be able to force your spouse to move out of your shared home during a divorce. Typically, the only circumstance where this is allowed is if your spouse is engaging in abusive behavior. Otherwise, the only other possibility to force your spouse to move out is if you own the house on your own and it is not part of community property. This entitles you to decide whether or not your spouse can continue living there.

If you are in a domestic violence situation and do not feel safe in your home, do what is necessary to keep you and your children safe. If you have the financial resources to move out of your house, do so. Otherwise, you can ask the courts to assist you in forcing your estranged spouse to move out of the house instead.

In a divorce case that involves domestic violence or abuse, you have the right to obtain court orders for solutions such as temporary full custody of children and an emergency protective order. A protective order can force your ex-spouse to stay away from you and move out of the house. If you believe you or your children are in danger during a divorce case, consult with an attorney immediately for emergency safety measures before moving out.

Is Moving Out the Right Choice for You?

Your divorce case can take months or even years to be resolved. In this time, you or your spouse may decide it’s best for one of you to move out. However, it is important to analyze the benefits and potential risks of moving out to your divorce case before leaving your family home. You have to consider not only your physical and mental wellbeing when making your choice, but also the potential legal ramifications.

Each divorce case is unique. Get help from a Colorado divorce attorney to make the best decision for you and your family. A lawyer can answer your questions and concerns related to finances, property division, child custody and more when deciding whether or not to move out of your house before a divorce.

How Can You Stop Parental Alienation?

Posted in Family Law on January 12, 2021

A divorce can have many ramifications for a family. One potential risk is distance coming between you and your child – both physically and emotionally – if you do not have primary custody. Sadly, your ex-spouse may make things worse by badmouthing you in front of your child or spreading hurtful lies when you’re not there to defend yourself. These intentional actions to separate you and your child is known as parental alienation.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation occurs most often after a divorce, but it can begin when the two parents are still married. It describes one parent interfering with the child’s relationship with the other parent by speaking ill of the targeted parent. One parent planting seeds against the other during or after a marriage could come between the second parent’s relationship with the child. Both the targeted parent and the child can suffer negative consequences from parental alienation.

The Long-term Impacts of Parental Alienation

It has long been established by health and wellness experts that the best scenario for a child’s mental, emotional and psychological wellbeing after a divorce or separation is shared parenting. Continuing contact with both parents after a divorce is the healthiest arrangement for a child. When parental alienation ruins one parent’s relationship with the child, it is the child who suffers the most.

In the long term, parental alienation can significantly affect a child’s mental health. It can force the child to think negative or bad thoughts about the other parent, possibly leading to the hatred of the targeted parent and/or extended family members related to that parent. It could also impact the child’s understanding of love and self-worth, which could interfere with self-esteem, intimacy and relationships later in life. The degradation of a child’s relationship with one parent can lead to issues such as depression, anger issues, outbursts, problems in school and substance abuse.

Tips for Stopping Parental Alienation

If you notice the early signs of parental alienation, such as your child distancing him or herself from you, you can do things to stop your co-parent from driving a wedge further between you and your child. You can take steps on your own to forge a deeper bond or relationship with your child in spite of what your co-parent may be saying about you. If this does not work, you can contact a family attorney to discuss possible legal actions available to you.

  • Remind your ex that he or she is hurting the child, not just you, with parental alienation.
  • Do not retaliate against your ex-spouse by also badmouthing him or her.
  • Make your main priority rebuilding your relationship with your child.
  • Reach out to your child in writing in your own words, using letters or email.
  • Call your child to talk as often as possible.
  • Keep up with what’s going on in your child’s life.
  • Attend your child’s shows or exhibitions, even if you sit in the back.
  • Request more visits, even if they are shorter in duration.
  • Keep documentation of how your ex-spouse is alienating you.
  • Ask to see your child in writing if your ex is withholding visits.
  • Remain persistent in rebuilding your relationship with your child.
  • Try therapy and look for professional support during this tough time.

Parental alienation can become a form of child abuse in severe cases. If parental alienation is risking your child’s mental health and personal wellbeing, you can ask a judge to intervene. Connect with a family attorney for assistance with your case. A lawyer can help you if your ex-spouse is intentionally trying to destroy your relationship with your child. A lawyer can submit a custody modification request, for example, to give you more than partial custody if your child is in danger. Speak to a lawyer today for more information about your legal options.

Can My Ex Leave the State With Our Child?

Posted in Divorce,Family Law on November 20, 2020

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.

How to Establish Paternity in Colorado?

Posted in Family Law on October 19, 2020

Paternity is a father’s legal status as the parent of a child. For the most part, paternity is not an issue if a couple has a child while married. In this situation, paternity will automatically go to the father. If the couple is not married, however, they may need to establish paternity. Establishing paternity is a legal process that can have many benefits for your child.

Why Would You Need to Establish Paternity?

You may want to establish paternity for several reasons. One is to make a claim for child support. Before the courts will force a father to pay child support, the mother must establish paternity. Without paternity, the father will have no legal obligation to pay to support the child. Upon establishing paternity, the child’s father will become legally responsible for child support if the couple is no longer together. As a single parent, establishing paternity could open the doors to financial support for food, shelter, education and other childcare needs.

Establishing paternity could also benefit the child in terms of insurance coverage. If the father has a job that extends health insurance coverage to dependents, for example, establishing that person’s paternity could allow a child to enter the parent’s health insurance plan. If the father is a veteran, the child could be eligible for disability benefits as well as an established dependent.

Establishing paternity is not just for the benefit of the child. A father may wish to establish his own paternity as well. If a father wants the legal right to visit the child or have partial custody, the father will need to establish paternity before the courts will grant him these rights. A man who has raised a child that is not his own may also want to establish paternity to become the child’s legal father. This will give him equal rights in terms of deciding the child’s health care, religion, education and other important matters.

Different Ways to Establish Paternity in Colorado

If you wish to establish paternity in Colorado, you can do so in one of two ways. The first is voluntary. Establishing voluntary paternity requires both parents to agree on the father of the child. If both parents agree to establish paternity, they will sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form, which the courts will use to establish the parent as the legal father of the child. After signing this form, the family can add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate. Either parent has 60 days after signing the form to revoke the voluntary admittance of paternity. After 60 days, neither parent can rescind voluntary acknowledgment of paternity without going to court.

The second way to establish paternity is by bringing the alleged father to court. If the father is denying paternity or refusing to cooperate, you can file a court action requesting a paternity hearing. Parties who can initiate paternity hearings in Colorado are a child’s mother, the man who believes he is the father of the child, social services, the Colorado Department of Human Resources, a legal representative or the child if the child is 18.

If you wish to initiate a paternity case, go to the district court in your county. Only the district court will have the authority to rule in paternity cases. You will generally start your case after the birth of your child. You will need to present information and evidence establishing the father’s paternity, such as the results of a genetic test. The judge overseeing your case will then make a ruling on whether or not to establish paternity. If you succeed with your paternity case, the father may lawfully have to pay for expenses such as hospital bills for the birth of your child, child support and legal fees.

When to Contact an Attorney

Establishing paternity is a complicated matter in Colorado. If you believe this is something that will benefit your child or family, contact an attorney for assistance with the legal process. A lawyer with experience handling paternity cases can guide you through the process and help you achieve a successful outcome.

How Do I File for an Annulment in Colorado?

Posted in Divorce,Family Law on August 18, 2020

Annulment is not the same as divorce or separation. It is a plea for the courts to rule the marriage invalid rather than dissolving it – striking the marriage from the record as if it never happened. Some people choose to file for an annulment in Colorado instead of divorce for a simpler legal process and to avoid the negative stigma. Others do it for religious purposes. Annulment is only possible in Colorado if your marriage was never legal or valid in the first place.

Colorado Statutory Law on Annulment

Although Colorado does not have a statute specifically on annulment, it has a few that describe what it takes to invalidate a marriage. The most important, Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-111, defines what makes a marriage invalid in the State of Colorado. This statutory law on the declaration of invalidity states that a court in Colorado will find a marriage invalid if entered into under specific circumstances. It then lists seven different circumstances in which the state will not recognize a marriage as valid. Two additional laws – Section 14-10-110 and 18-6-301 – may also be important during an annulment case for defining a prohibited marriage and incest.

What Is Required to Get an Annulment in Colorado?

If you wish to get an annulment in Colorado, you will seek what is called a declaration of invalidity. This will effectively nullify your marriage. You must prove the invalidity of your marriage based on one of the circumstances listed in Statute 14-10-111.

  • Lack of capacity. The inability to consent to a marriage based on issues such as lack of mental capacity or mental infirmity, as well as intoxicating drugs or substances.
  • Impotency or failure to consummate. The failure to consummate a marriage within one year could give a spouse grounds to file for an annulment. The same is true if one spouse is impotent and the other party did not know this prior to marriage.
  • Lack of age of majority. Both parties must be 18 in Colorado to legally consent to marriage, except with legal consent from parents or legal guardians.
  • Fraud or misrepresentation. Some type of lie, scam or misrepresentation of fact by one party that led the other to marry.
  • Marriage under duress. Threats, intimidation or another form of duress by a third party that forces one or both parties to enter the marriage.
  • Jest or dare. A marriage entered into as a joke, jest or dare by one or both parties.
  • Bigamy or incest. A prohibited marriage by law due to the couple being closely related (by half or whole blood) or one spouse already being married.

Proof of one of these circumstances may come in the form of witness testimony, documents, photographs, other materials or experts. You must have lived within the state for at least the prior 30 days to initiate an annulment proceeding in Colorado unless you got married in the state.

The Annulment Process in Colorado

If you qualify for a declaration of invalidity, you or your family law attorney will need to fill out and submit the appropriate forms to the family court in the county where you live. Act quickly, as a deadline to file may apply to your annulment request. You have just six months, for example, if you are filing due to lack of capacity to consent, fraud, duress or jest. Other reasons could give you one to two years to file. You or your lawyer may have to prove grounds for annulment using evidence. If successful, your marital status will change from married to single, not divorced. The annulment will declare that you were never married, as your marriage was never valid.

Talk to an Expert Attorney

A successful declaration of invalidity could free you from a fraudulent or invalid marriage. Speak to an annulment attorney in Fort Collins if you wish to pursue this course of action. A lawyer can help you navigate the state’s related laws and protect your rights as you seek a declaration of invalidity from the family law courts in Colorado.

The Effects of Coronavirus/COVID-19 on Divorce

Posted in Child Custody,Child Support,Divorce,Family Law on April 27, 2020

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.

What to Do if Your Spouse Is Verbally and Emotionally Abusive?

Posted in Family Law on November 18, 2019

Physical abuse is not the only type that could cause irrevocable harm to your relationship. Emotional, mental and verbal abuse can just as easily cause a permanent rift. Abuse of any kind could greatly impact your marriage. It may be the reason you file for divorce in Colorado. If you are suffering verbal and/or emotional abuse and wish to divorce your spouse, take the following steps to do so safely and effectively.

Document Your Experience

Although Colorado is a no-fault state, meaning you will not have to prove your spouse is verbally or emotionally abusive, documenting what is happening could help you in other ways. If the nonphysical abuse turns violent, for example, you will have proof to show the police during a criminal case against your spouse. Even if your partner never gets physically violent, documenting incidents of nonphysical abuse could be helpful. Proof of abuse may show a judge, for example, that your spouse is not a sound parent during a divorce case. Never put your safety or that of your loved ones at risk, however, in trying to get proof of abuse.

Tell Someone

The most important thing to do as the victim of verbal or emotional abuse is to talk to someone you can trust for assistance out of your situation. Call a national hotline such as 1 (800) 799-7233 if you have no trusted friends or family members who can help. A representative can walk you through the steps of safely getting out of your abusive relationship. If your spouse becomes physically violent, take immediate action. Call the police, if necessary, to protect yourself. You can also contact a domestic violence relief center near you for advice and/or safe shelter.

File for Divorce

If you wish to leave your verbally or emotionally abusive spouse, file for divorce in Colorado. You must cite an irretrievably broken marriage for the courts to hear your divorce petition. If your spouse assents that your marriage is irretrievably broken, the courts will grant the divorce petition. If your spouse does not respond, the courts will take it as assent. Should your spouse refute that the marriage is irretrievably broken, your lawyer may be able to help you prove otherwise, with or without a trial. It will be your spouse’s burden to challenge your assertion with evidence. A lawyer can defend your stance to help you proceed with a divorce.

Navigate the Elements of Your Divorce

Verbal and emotional abuse may impact your Colorado divorce case. Even though you cannot list it as the reason for your split, the courts may still take any type of abuse into consideration when making decisions about marital property, child custody, child support, and alimony. Despite Colorado’s no-fault laws, verbal or emotional abuse could impact elements of your case.

  • Child custody. The standard a judge will use when deciding child custody is the child’s best interests. A judge will consider one parent’s history of verbal or emotional abuse when determining what is best for the child in a custody matter.
  • Marital property. If abuse contributed to issues such as your being unable to keep a job, this could lead to a judge awarding you the greater share of marital assets. Colorado is an equitable distribution state, meaning the courts will decide what is fair for each spouse according to the situation.

Child custody is the greatest area of a divorce verbal or emotional abuse can affect. Proof that your spouse abused you in any way could convince a judge to rule in your favor during a custody battle. A child support lawyer could also help lead to a child support order if you receive primary custody of your child. A lawyer can help you work through all the aspects of your divorce case, including navigating how verbal or emotional abuse might affect things.

What Is “Non physical” Domestic Violence?

Posted in Family Law on September 1, 2019

When most people think about domestic violence, they imagine one partner physically abusing another member of the household. While this tragic situation occurs all too often, it is not the only form of domestic violence. Nonphysical domestic violence can be just as harmful to victims. Nonphysical violence, abuse and harassment can harm a person mentally, emotionally and psychologically. Nonphysical domestic violence is still just as much a crime as physical violence in Colorado. Survivors may still call the police about nonphysical domestic violence, and perpetrators can face criminal charges. Learn what constitutes nonphysical domestic violence to understand your rights.

Colorado’s Definition of Domestic Violence Is Broad

Each state has its own statute defining the crime of domestic violence. Colorado Code §18-6-800.3 says domestic violence is an act or threatened act of violence between a perpetrator and victim who are in an intimate relationship. A threatened act of violence does not necessarily have to be physical. In the eyes of the law, violence or threats of violence can be verbal, mental or emotional. Any act that places the victim in fear of his or her safety, or the safety of a family member or pet, can constitute domestic violence.

Nonphysical domestic violence can lead to criminal convictions and penalties just like physical violence in Colorado. The sentence for a conviction could include fines, jail time, probation and mandatory treatment programs. Survivors of nonphysical domestic violence may also apply for protective orders against the perpetrator. A protective order such as a restraining order could prevent the offender from contacting or seeing the victim and his or her family for a specific period. This could help protect the victim from physical and/or nonphysical abuse.

Types of Nonphysical Domestic Violence

Colorado does not restrict its definition of domestic violence or abuse to only physical injury or assault. While kicking, punching, slapping or sexual abuse can constitute domestic violence, so can many nonphysical acts. If a nonphysical act between two people in an intimate relationship inflicts mental harm, psychological trauma or emotional distress on the victim, it could fulfill the legal definition of domestic violence. Several nonphysical acts could be domestic violence according to the state’s definition.

  • Stalking
  • Verbal threats
  • Harassment
  • Coercion
  • Control
  • Isolation
  • Intimidation
  • Identity theft
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Destroying property

An abuser does not have to lay a hand on the victim for the courts to convict him or her of domestic violence. Any nonphysical act that causes the victim distress, emotional harm or economic losses (including loss of job) could be a crime. Domestic violence does not only have to target the victim. In Colorado, a domestic partner threatening or committing a crime against the victim’s property, pet or child could also constitute domestic violence.

Do You Have a Case?

If your spouse, domestic partner or another person in your household is guilty of yelling, screaming, belittling, humiliating, stalking or otherwise harassing you, he or she could face charges for domestic violence. The same is true if someone in your household made you feel a real fear of imminent bodily injury or death to you, a loved one or a pet. Even without any physical injuries, you could have a case against someone for domestic violence in Colorado.

Call the police if you believe someone is guilty of domestic violence in your household. Realize, however, that once you call 911, the case will be out of your hands. The law enforcement officers and the prosecutors will be the ones who decide whether to press charges, regardless of whether you want to proceed with the case. Your lack of cooperation during a criminal investigation, however, could lead to the courts dismissing the case. Colorado has resources available for victims and survivors of domestic violence, including nonphysical domestic violence.  If you have been a victim of domestic violence, consider hiring a divorce lawyer in Fort Collins and contacting authorities.