THE REPRESENTATION YOU NEED IN ORDER TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
A marriage should be entered into by two people who have all of the information they need to make an informed decision about the union. Unfortunately, some people enter into marriages under misconceptions borne from deceit, misrepresentation and fraud from the other party. These marriages are invalid in the State of Colorado. If you believe fraud or false representation induced your marriage, you may be eligible for an annulment.
What Is an Annulment?
An annulment can effectively end your marriage, but it is not a divorce. It is a legal decree stating that you were never married to begin with since the marriage was not valid. With a successful annulment, your status will return to what it was before your marriage. You will not be a divorced person; rather, you will be single, as if your marriage never happened. Annulments are much less common than divorces and legal separations. Some people prefer annulment to divorce, however, for religious or personal reasons. To have your marriage annulled in Colorado, you must show you have grounds proving the invalidity of your marriage. One of these grounds is fraud.
Reasons for Annulment in Colorado
Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of facts with the purpose of deceiving someone for personal or financial gain. Fraud in marriage could refer to many misrepresentations, such as someone lying about already being married, having terminal cancer or being able to have children. False representations of age or citizenship status could also qualify as fraud. To have grounds for an annulment, the fraud must apply to an essential aspect of the marriage. Couples in Colorado can also file for annulments based on other grounds.
- Lack of consummation of marriage
- Lack of age of consent (or parent/guardian permission)
- Mental incompetence
- One or both parties agreed to the marriage as a jest or dare
- One or both parties were under duress
- The marriage is void due to polygamy, incest or other reasons
Fraud may affect the essential foundation of your marriage if your spouse tricked you into the union through a false claim. Fraud could involve false representations of potency, pregnancy, an illness, financial status, identity, citizenship, feelings or intentions. Lawfully, a person does not have to disclose certain things, such as a criminal background, to a spouse. Failure to disclose this type of information may not constitute fraud. If a spouse directly lies about something such as a criminal background, however, it may be fraud. A lawyer can help you identify fraud in your specific case.
How to Get an Annulment in Colorado
If you believe you have grounds to file for an annulment in Colorado based on fraud, speak to an attorney right away for advice. A divorce lawyer can give you the facts on annulments and review your case to see if you have the necessary elements. If so, your lawyer can represent you during an annulment case to help you prove to the courts that you entered into the marriage due to fraud. You or your lawyer will need to show that the other party was fraudulent and that this is what induced the marriage.
You will need to file annulment paperwork with the family court in your county to start the legal process. Do so as soon as possible after learning of the fraud, as a deadline will apply to your case. You will have six months from the date of learning of the grounds for annulment if you wish to base your claim on fraud, duress, mental incompetence or jest/dare. A lawyer can help you file the legal paperwork and work through related processes. If the courts accept your claim, a judge will grant the annulment and your marriage will disappear from the record. If you cannot get an annulment, you may have to file for divorce instead. Speak to an attorney for more information on annulments for fraud in Colorado.
You have multiple options for ending your marriage in Colorado. Divorce is not your only avenue. The family courts in Colorado also offer other solutions, such as legal separation. Understanding the difference between divorce, dissolution and legal separation can help you choose the right option for you.
Divorce vs. Dissolution
Divorce and dissolution of marriage are often used interchangeably. They are similar, but not exactly the same, in meaning. Both terms describe the legal termination of a marriage. Both paths will lead to a judge signing a divorce decree and lawfully ending the marriage. Technically, however, these terms differ in meaning on a legal level.
Divorce refers to enlisting the court’s help to end your marriage. A dissolution of marriage, on the other hand, is an agreement between you and your spouse on how to resolve questions such as child custody and property division, without a judge intervening. Both a successful divorce and a dissolution of marriage will end in the same outcome: an order that ends the marriage and sets rules for the split. The difference lies in how a couple comes to this conclusion.
You may be able to dissolve your marriage instead of going to court by keeping an open mind during negotiations with your ex-spouse. You will both have to agree on every detail of the marriage dissolution, including parenting time, property and debt division, child support, and alimony. A mediation lawyer may be able to help you and your ex-spouse work together to agree on everything and dissolve the marriage.
A dissolution can provide better peace of mind for you and your family while ending your marriage. It could also save your family time and money on legal proceedings. You may need to file for divorce and bring your case to the courts, however, if you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on its terms. Filing for divorce means enlisting a judge’s assistance in setting orders for both parties to follow. Most couples start by attempting a dissolution of marriage. Then, if this does not work, the couple will file for divorce to terminate the marriage instead.
Legal Separation in Colorado
Divorce and dissolution both share the same outcome: termination of the marriage contract. Legal separation, however, does not end or terminate a marriage. Instead, it puts things on pause for an amount of time the couple decides. Legal separation in Colorado means that on paper, a couple is still married; however, the couple has divided their assets and are living separately.
Legal separation is a common in-between for couples who need to take action to resolve their issues but are not sure something as final as divorce is the right choice. At any point during a legal separation, the couple can decide to either reconcile and end the separation or move forward with a divorce/dissolution.
Legal separation might be the right choice if you want to separate from your spouse but remain legally married for some type of benefit. If you must remain married on paper to keep health benefits given to you by your spouse’s employer, for example, legal separation could be an effective solution. Other couples choose legal separation instead of divorce for religious reasons. If you think reconciliation is a possibility, legal separation could also be more suitable than divorce. If you get back together with your spouse, it is much easier to end a legal separation than to reverse a divorce decision or remarry.
It is important to assess all of your options for ending a marriage in Colorado. What is right for someone else might not be ideal for you. Discuss all of your options with a divorce attorney for tailored legal advice.
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.
Posted in Separation on August 15, 2019
Spousal support is a court-ordered arrangement in which one spouse of a divorce pays another – either in a lump sum or monthly payments. A judge in Colorado may award spousal support during a divorce case that involves an income disparity between the spouses. If one spouse stayed at home to care for the kids while the other got an education and a career, for example, the first spouse may be eligible for spousal support if he or she is in financial need. The duration of the award will depend on the situation.
Who Qualifies for Spousal Support?
Colorado’s spousal support law, Colorado Revised Statutes Section 14-10-114, states that a divorce court may grant this type of award when one spouse needs financial support and the other has the ability to provide this support. In Colorado, the courts do not look at fault for the divorce when determining spousal support. It will not matter, for example, if one spouse cheated on the other. Instead, the courts look at each spouse’s financial standing to determine the eligibility of spousal maintenance.
- Length of the marriage
- Both incomes
- Each spouse’s financial resources
- Education levels
- Employment history
- Marital property distribution
- Child custody arrangement
- Financial needs
The courts will consider many factors in determining a spousal support award. However, they will mainly analyze whether one spouse will be at a financial deficit post-divorce, while another will have enough to offer financial relief. If this is the case, the spouse with more financial stability may have to pay the other spouse temporarily or permanently. Not all divorce cases result in spousal support. Even cases involving financial need may not receive spousal support depending on the circumstances.
Calculating Spousal Support
The courts in Colorado will calculate the amount of a spousal support award using a complex percentage system. For example, they will take 40% of the higher-earning party’s monthly gross income and subtract half of the lower earner’s monthly income. If the higher earner has a gross monthly income of $10,000, for example, and the lower earner makes $5,000, the spousal support award would be $1,500 ($10,000 x 40% = $4,000; $5,000 x 50% = $2,500; $4,000 – $2,500 = $1,500). The percentages can depend on the length of the marriage. An attorney can help you calculate your potential spousal support arrangement.
The Length of a Spousal Support Arrangement
If a judge deems spousal support appropriate in a divorce case, he or she may order a temporary or permanent award to one party. Temporary awards are more common. They do not last for the rest of the recipient’s life. A temporary support order may last until the divorce is final if one spouse requested spousal maintenance during the divorce process. In other cases, a judge may make a temporary order part of the divorce decree. Colorado has a lengthy and detailed list of how long spousal support will last if the couple was married at least 3 years but less than 20.
- 3 years: 31% for 11 months
- 5 years: 35% for 21 months
- 10 years: 45% for 54 months
- 15 years: 50% for 90 months
- 20 years: 50% for 120 months
These guidelines only apply if the couple makes $240,000 or less in combined income. Otherwise, the courts will calculate the length of the order in months based on marriage length. If a marriage lasted longer than 20 years, the courts will have the power to award spousal support for a specific number of years or indefinitely. A judge’s decision will depend on the factors of the case. The list of spousal support lengths for different marriage terms under Colorado law is not a guarantee that the courts will issue this type of award.
Spousal Support Modifications
If the spousal support becomes part of the divorce agreement, it will remain in place until the deadline passes. Either spouse will have the right to request a spousal support modification if one party’s financial status changes. If the spouse giving the maintenance loses his or her job, for example, the courts may suspend or terminate the support order early. The party making the request must have a valid reason for the judge to grant a modification order.
Posted in Separation on July 2, 2019
If the tension in your relationship becomes more than just a rough patch, separation might be a positive choice for your family. Separation is not divorce. You and your spouse will remain legally married, with all the benefits that come with a marriage on paper. However, separation may impact matters such as finances and legal rights according to the type you select. Separation could be the key to continuing your relationship, reconciling your differences or deciding it is time for a divorce. It could also be the ideal permanent choice depending on your situation.
Trial separation could be the right move if you are still unsure about the future of your relationship. If reconciliation may be possible, a trial separation period could help you and your spouse see things more clearly. During trial separation, you and your spouse will live in separate places, but everything else remains legally the same. Legal rights such as parenting time and property ownership will not change.
If you and your spouse decide to continue sharing a bank account or child custody, put the terms of your trial separation agreement in writing. You do not need to file your agreement anywhere or make it official, but having both signatures can help you prevent legal trouble in the future. That way, your spouse cannot accuse you of stealing money or claiming property you do not own. The terms of your agreement will be clear. However, in the court’s eyes, you and your spouse will still jointly own bank accounts, debts and assets.
Permanent separation, as the name implies, is a more permanent split. This might be the best option if you and your spouse decide it is time to permanently break up – often after unsuccessful reconciliation during trial separation. Permanent separation has more legal ramifications than a temporary split. In most states, permanent separation will officially distinguish between you and your spouse’s properties. The debts you accrue and money you make while permanently separated will become your separate property rather than community property with your spouse.
If you incur debts for things such as paying the mortgage on your marital home or buying groceries for the kids, however, the courts in Colorado will most likely view these as community property debts rather than yours alone, even while permanently separated. Keeping track of the date of your legal separation is important, as this date can have significance during a legal separation or divorce case. Until you take your spouse to court or vice versa, a permanent separation will not be a legal one. The courts will not intervene with your arrangement.
Making your separation official can have certain legal benefits. Achieving a legal separation means the family court in your county will change your legal status from married to separated in the system. A legal separation is similar to a divorce in that the court will grant orders about property division, child custody, child support and other important matters; however, you and your spouse will still be technically married. This distinction can be important for issues such as health insurance benefits if you or your spouse wish to retain them through your current agreement. Many couples prefer separation to divorce.
Which Is Right for You?
Choosing the right type of separation depends on your unique relationship. Do your best to communicate honestly and openly with your spouse. Explain your needs, whether that is just to have some time apart to think or to make your separation legal in a Colorado courtroom. Whichever course of action you decide, consider consulting with a lawyer about your rights. A Fort Collins family law attorney can help you choose the ideal living situation for you, your spouse and your kids. A lawyer can also help you through the legal process should you decide to opt for legal separation or divorce down the road.
Studies show that pet ownership has increased in the last few decades. Since the first National Pet Owners Survey in 1988, pet ownership has gone up by 12%, from 56% of U.S. households to 68% in 2018. Studies also show the increase in pet ownership correlates to a decrease in younger generations having children. The outcome? Many couples getting divorced today treat their pets like their children – creating intense pet custody battles during Colorado divorce cases.
Deciding Your Own Pet Custody Arrangement
Pet custody is like many other aspects of a divorce case in that it does not have to fall to the decision of the courts. Couples will have the option to arrange their own pet custody agreement before a judge intervenes. This is almost always preferable than taking a pet custody case to trial. Trials can be unpredictable, and you may end up losing custody of your pet altogether, rather than settling on a compromise with your ex-spouse.
First, try to work out an agreeable arrangement between you and the other pet parent. Create a plan for the pet as part of how you and your spouse will separate property. The courts will always try to approve divorce arrangements a family creates before intervening. If you and your ex-spouse cannot work it out alone, consider hiring a mediator to help with negotiations. Mediation is not a trial. It is a meeting between you, your spouse, and an unbiased third-party mediator to act as a judge. You may also have attorneys present, if desired.
Mediation can help you resolve a pet custody battle without needing to take your case to court. You and your spouse can both present your cases, and the mediator will make a final suggestion as to how the issue should be resolved. You and your ex-spouse may either accept the suggestion and make it your official divorce contract, or reject the solution and proceed to the next step – a court trial. If your pet custody case does go before a judge, know that the courts will see your cat or dog like personal property, not like a child.
Pets as Property in Colorado
You may not see your pet as just another piece of owned property, but that is how the Colorado legal system views it. Your pet may be like a beloved family member, but in the eyes of the law, he or she is just another asset of the marriage. Thus, Colorado’s property division laws will preside over your pet custody case, not child custody laws. Here is a breakdown of how property division works in Colorado.
- Separate vs. community property. Separate property is any and all assets either spouse possessed prior to the date of marriage. Community property, on the other hand, is assets the couple obtained during the course of the marriage – or assets the couple legally decided to share, such as joining two separate bank accounts.
- Equitable distribution rules. Colorado is an equitable distribution, or common law, state. The courts will not split community property down the middle, in a 50/50 division. Instead, the courts will typically allot a greater portion of shared assets to the higher-earning spouse in the relationship.
- How the court makes marital property decisions. In general, the courts cannot touch separate property. Each spouse will maintain ownership of his or her own separate properties. The state’s equitable division rule will only apply to community, or marital, properties and assets.
- Fault vs. no-fault divorce. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. Your spouse cannot use your fault for the split against you during property division or child custody disputes. In other words, even if you are at fault for causing your divorce, this will not automatically bar you from pet custody. Instead, the courts will split property in an equitable manner.
If you owned your pet prior to the marriage, odds are the courts will view the pet as your own separate property. Custody of the pet will likely go to you and not your spouse. If, however, you and your spouse purchased or adopted the pet after marriage (or obtained the pet jointly prior to marriage), the courts will determine custody as it would any other piece of property, in most cases.
The Answer Depends on the Court
Colorado does not have any specific pet custody laws. This makes the matter somewhat unclear and unpredictable. The courts will determine pet custody on a case-by-case basis. Some judges may look at a pet purely as property, and divide it along with other pieces of property, such as a residence or income. Other judges, however, may consider some of the child custody rules when determining a pet custody dispute.
Your judge, for example, may examine what is in the best interests of the pet to determine whether you or your spouse should have custody. The judge may listen to both sides of the argument, assess what would be best for the pet in question, and determine a sole or joint custody arrangement based on the facts of your case. How the courts treat your particular situation depends entirely on the judge, since no legal governance exists for such situations.
Can You Improve Your Chances of Securing Pet Custody?
It may be difficult to predict how a pet custody battle will go, but you can improve your chances of a satisfactory outcome by hiring a lawyer. Hiring an attorney because of your pet may seem unnecessary, until you realize the chance of your pet going to neither you nor your spouse exists. It is in the court’s power to order that the pet goes to a third party if you and your spouse cannot work out an agreement between yourselves. A judge may choose not to intervene in these situations, and decide to send the pet to a separate home instead of assigning custody.
If custody of your pet post-divorce is important to you, hire a divorce attorney to represent you during mediation or a divorce trial. A lawyer during your mediation can improve the odds of you and your spouse coming to a satisfactory compromise on pet custody and visitation rights, without needing to go to court. If your case does proceed to trial, a lawyer can state your claim to the pet through property division and/or custody laws. Your lawyer may be able to prove to a judge that you are the owner that will do what is best for the animal.
Proof of your position as the right choice may include demonstrating that you were the one who took primary care of the animal during the marriage. If you were the one who spent more money on the pet’s healthcare, more time walking or feeding the pet, and more attention on the pet, you could win primary custody – even if your spouse was the one who initially purchased the animal. Your attorney can set up witnesses to testify to your care of the pet, as well as collect evidence such as vet bills.
If you are currently facing a potential pet custody battle with your spouse during a divorce case, focus on what is best for your pet. Try to come to an agreement together, with help from lawyers and mediators. Neither spouse should use a pet to hurt or manipulate the other spouse.
If you need help getting custody of a pet you believe should be yours, trust an experienced attorney to make your case for you during mediation or a trial in Colorado.
Posted in Separation on October 3, 2018
When it comes to ending a marriage, most people consider divorce as the first option. However, another option is annulment, a process through which the marriage never legally existed. This can seem like an appealing option when other factors make divorce unattractive for a couple.
However, an annulment is a distinct legal procedure that has different requirements than a divorce. Fully understanding annulment in Colorado can help you make the correct decision when deciding the best way to end your marriage.
Divorce and Annulment in Colorado
Like many other states, Colorado allows for “no-fault” divorce. So long as married couples follow the correct period of separation procedures, they may move forward with a no-fault divorce, with no need for other circumstances to come into play.
When it comes to annulment, Colorado does not have any procedures that use that name. However, the state does allow for a court action known as a “declaration of invalidity.” This order operates roughly in the same manner as an annulment, stating that your marriage was not valid – ending your legal obligations without a divorce.
Legal Grounds to Obtain a Declaration of Invalidity
Unlike the ability to file for a no-fault divorce, you must meet specific requirements to file and successfully obtain a declaration of invalidity. Under Colorado law, those circumstances are:
- Either spouse lacked the intellectual ability to consent to marriage due to drugs, alcohol, or another incapacity
- Either spouse could not physically consummate the marriage, but the other spouse didn’t know that when the marriage took place.
- Either spouse was under the legal age of marriage
- Either of the spouses was compelled to marry
- Either of the spouses entered the marriage because of a joke or because someone dared them
- One spouse married due to fraudulent acts or misrepresentation of the other
- The marriage was void because of bigamy, polygamy, incest, or another violation of marriage law
In addition to meeting the requirements for a declaration of invalidity, a spouse must file a petition within a specific time frame. You have 6 months to file for annulment on the grounds of lack of mental capacity or the claim of duress, dare, or fraud; 12 months for unconsummated marriages; and 25 months for violations of the age of consent. Claims of incest, bigamy, and polygamy have no time limit for filing a court petition.
How Long Does an Annulment Take?
Not only do declarations of invalidity have strict legal grounds for filing, the involved parties will likely also need to provide proof of the grounds for annulment. This can involve lengthy proceedings to justify the annulment request and additional legal preparations, even when both parties agree that they want to have their marriage declared invalid.
In contested annulments, the procedure can take even longer, quickly stretching out the timeline beyond that of a standard divorce. There will also be the consideration of applicable child custody, support, and visitation as would occur in a divorce. Unlike some other states, Colorado allows for distribution of any marital property through annulment, even though there is no legal marriage in the first place.
In contrast, because of Colorado’s allowance of no-fault divorces, a court can process a divorce proceeding much more quickly than an annulment – even though popular perception seems to be the opposite. For those who are hoping to find a quicker alternative to divorce, an annulment may not be the way to go.
However, certain circumstances may mean that annulment is the better option for ending your marriage. Consulting with an attorney can help you understand if you have the legal grounds for an annulment, as well as determine which procedure will better suit your specific needs.
Posted in Separation on January 26, 2018
Both forms of legal action prohibit contact by one party to the other. One of the main differences is that restraining orders often last up to one year and are temporary. No-contact agreements are binding contracts that can be removed only by the district attorney or the judge who is working the case. Another contrasting factor is the intensity of the punishment.
Divorces in Fort Collins vary greatly in nature, reason, and repercussions. Some divorces may even result in one of the spouses wanting official, legal reinforcement to keep the ex-partner away. Such reinforcement could be in the form restraining orders or no contact orders. These orders keep one spouse away from the other, as well as away from places that the requesting spouse frequents often. They may also ban texting, calling, messages, or any social media contact. If the two people accidentally run into each other, the person who was there last or who saw the other first is required to immediately leave.
For a restraining order, if the restrained individual attempts to contact the other or violates the order in any way, he or she can be arrested or fined. However, when someone violates a no-contact order, the one who is violated is not permitted to immediately enforce action by the police. Such a case would require filing a citation with the court. Though the initial punishment seems less severe with no-contact orders, they incur more intense final punishment than restraining orders. If a no-contact order is violated, the violator may spend up to six months in jail. This individual would also have to pay the attorney fees for the other party.
Yet another difference between a restraining order and a no-contact agreement is the circumstance that requires such action. A restraining order is usually filed for civil reasons such as divorces, relationships that ended poorly, or any other situation where a person feels threatened. A no-contact order is usually upheld because of criminal reasons. For example, if the victim of a crime were testifying against the criminal in court, they would most likely file a no-contact agreement that would last through the trial and even afterward. Often, criminal charges must be filed already or be in process for a judge to order a no-contact agreement.
The laws on restraining orders and no-contact agreements vary by state, but the main idea is that no-contact agreements exist to punish someone who has already caused harm and to prevent further harm, whereas restraining orders exist to prevent someone from causing harm in the first place. Restraining orders can also be adjusted depending on the situation at hand and how threatened the person who filed the order currently feels.
Both forms of action can be applied to help protect the mental and physical safety of an individual. Laws exists to protect the interests of both parties, prevent overreach and misapplication, and clarify terms. Anyone seeking to file either action, or currently subject to a restraining order or no-contact order should seek the advice of legal counsel.
There are many steps to a divorce case in Colorado. The final stage is the Permanent Orders Hearing. During this conclusive hearing, the judge reviewing the divorce will make the final determinations concerned marital asset and debt division. The judge will also determine maintenance awards, such as spousal support or alimony. If the divorcing couple has children, the judge will also make a decision concerning parenting times, custody, child support, and each parent’s ability to make major decisions for the children. Depending on the situation and each divorcing spouse’s behavior, the judge may also rule on one party’s obligation to pay the other party’s legal fees.
The determinations made in a Permanent Orders Hearing are final and binding, and these hearings can sometimes last several days before reaching a conclusion. Once the Permanent Orders Hearing is complete and the judge puts his or her final orders in writing, the court will issue a decree of dissolution and formally end the marriage.
Preparing for the Permanent Orders Hearing
The Permanent Orders Hearing happens after all other proceedings in the divorce case. Divorces in Colorado can be complex, especially if there is bad blood between the divorcing spouses. Unfortunately, some divorcing couples act harshly out of spite and anger, escalating divorce proceedings to contentious levels. The first step in starting the divorce process is one or both spouses filing a petition for dissolution. If the couple mutually agrees to the divorce, has little shared property, no children, and both spouses agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the divorce may proceed much more quickly than more-complex contentious divorces or divorces involving vast assets or children.
Each spouse should secure a family law attorney to navigate the process. Each spouse will need to compile a great deal of documentation to establish ownership of shared property and assets as well as evidence of their individual financial security. The divorcing spouses may also need to supply evidence supporting their claims to full or majority custody of the couple’s children. Eventually, the divorce case will resolve all these issues, and the Permanent Orders Hearing is simply a formal end to the case in which the judge makes an official ruling on all the elements of the couple’s divorce.
Why Do I Need an Attorney?
In some divorce cases, all the questions concerning Colorado child support, custody, division of assets and debts, and spousal support are already resolved before the Permanent Orders Hearing. If the divorcing couple files a full agreement, they can avoid needing to appear for a Permanent Orders Hearing. However, in any divorce case involving children or one spouse without legal counsel, the divorcing couple will need to appear for an uncontested Permanent Orders Hearing. During this hearing, the court will review the agreement to determine if it is in the best interest of the children and fair to the unrepresented spouse.
Even if a divorce case appears straightforward at first, it can quickly escalate into a complicated legal battle. Both sides in a divorce deserve and should secure reliable legal representation, so anyone considering divorce in Colorado should reach out to a family law attorney as soon as possible. Filing for divorce and gathering all the required evidence and documentation can seem daunting, and reliable, experienced family law attorneys will make the process much more bearable for everyone involves.
Maybe you’re in the beginning stages of contemplating a divorce, or maybe you’re getting ready to file an official motion. No matter what stage you’re at in considering a divorce, the idea of taking the next step can be scary. Knowing about the process can help put your mind at ease and prepare you for the road ahead. Here is what you can expect from the beginning stages of your divorce.
Serving the Papers
After meeting with a skilled divorce attorney, you will designate a third party who will serve the divorce papers. When serving your Colorado divorce papers, you have a few possible avenues. It’s important to note that you can’t personally serve papers. However, the state does allow these options:
- Serving by mail. One of the most obvious options is to serve your spouse by mail. If you choose this route, you have two options. The first is First-Class Mail, which would require your partner to sign for the package when he or she receives it from the mail carrier. The second is to send your package through Certified Mail with a return receipt requested. The return receipt is a green slip that your spouse signs acknowledging he or she received it, which is returned to you. If you cannot get your slip back within the specified time frame, you will have to elect another form of delivery.
- Process server. One of the more common methods is delivering the paperwork via proxy, or a process server. These individuals are professionals who will hand deliver the divorce paperwork to your spouse. The main advantage of using this method is that their training allows them to get the paperwork to your spouse as soon as possible. You can find them through your attorney or online.
- Acceptance of Service method. Technically, anyone over the age of 18 who isn’t directly involved in your divorce can deliver the paperwork. However, they must obtain a signed acceptance of service document that acknowledges receipt of the paperwork.
- Serving by publication. When all other attempts fail, your last avenue of delivery is publishing your petition in a local newspaper. You must, however, have permission from the courts to do so. In order to grant this permission, you must be able to show that you made a reasonable effort to serve your spouse the paperwork, using all other methods available. The courts will also require a copy of the newspaper notice and the run dates for their records.
If you’re dealing with a particularly contentious divorce scenario, you can talk to an experienced family law attorney about the best way to serve your Colorado divorce papers. It’s essential to deliver this paperwork adhering to the letter of the law using one of the options listed. When delivering the paperwork, you’re giving your spouse a notice to appear in court, as well as the opportunity to obtain representation and guidance through the legal process that’s to come.
A formal divorce proceeding can be daunting, but less so with a proactive and informed approach. Be sure to use one of these tactics when serving your spouse divorce paperwork.