Every divorce case is different, but one thing remains the same – the more prepared you are for the process, the easier it will be. Filing for divorce is never easy. It’s an emotionally charged and complex legal process that requires adequate thought and planning. Retain a lawyer to be your advocate during this difficult time to fully understand what’s in store for you. Before you dive into the process with a local Fort Collins, CO divorce attorney, however, here are three factors to consider.
The financial aspects of a divorce are some of the most difficult elements to work out with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Determine where you stand financially and learn how the Colorado family courts will divide your assets to prepare for the days ahead. First, get a clear picture of where you stand by understanding what you own and what you owe. Your marital assets include a shared home, any bank or financial accounts, owned vehicles, pension plans, and belongings. What you owe might be debts such as a mortgage, student loans, or credit card payments. Find out what you owe by looking at your credit report. Gather proof of your income and your spouse’s income, such as recent pay stubs.
Colorado, like the majority of US states, divides marital property equitably. This means a division that is fair but not necessarily equal. Equitable distribution laws matter if you and your spouse cannot negotiate a property settlement on your own. If you and your spouse can agree on division of property, the courts will rule on your agreement if it’s acceptable. Otherwise, the court will divide marital property based on equitable distribution. “Marital property” is assets and property acquired during the marriage, not those brought into the marriage. The courts will divide property in a way it considers fair. This may or may not be a 50/50 distribution.
“Fair” distribution of marital property comes down to many factors the courts will look at, such as the earning power and financial status of each spouse, the value of each spouse’s separate property, how much each spouse contributed to the acquisition of marital property, and the future financial needs of each spouse. The courts will also look at the ages and health of each spouse, any prenuptial agreements, and the question of alimony or spousal maintenance. Courts do not consider adultery, domestic violence, criminal activities, or drug/alcohol abuse in its distribution decision.
Child Custody Matters
If there are children involved in your divorce, they are the most important factor to consider during the divorce process. Not only must you think about how your divorce will affect your children mentally and emotionally, but you must also prepare yourself for the difficult parental responsibilities process ahead (the courts no longer use the term ‘custody’). Most counselors and psychologists do not recommend continuing a marriage to keep children happy. However, it’s likely that children are the most concerning part of the process for you both; prepare for litigation concerning your children to get heated.
You and your spouse will have the opportunity to come up with your own parenting time and decision-making responsibilities agreement. If you cannot agree on terms, however, the court will assign an arrangement based on the best interests of the children. Learn more about the divorce process with children in Colorado, such as how the courts decide on a parenting time agreement or child support amounts.
Preparing yourself for the divorce process in Colorado can help make it easier on you and your family. Knowing what to expect at every step of the way and arming yourself with a capable legal representative will help your divorce run as smoothly and painlessly as possible.