Hiring a divorce lawyer and separating from spouse can come with many difficulties and concerns. In the eyes of the law, however, just four elements compromise the heart of your case. Whether you and your spouse are trying to work together for an uncontested divorce or you are already preparing for a trial, it is important to understand the four main matters at hand. Discussing these issues with your spouse could help you both agree on the terms of the split.
When you and your spouse divorce, the legal status of your properties change. What you used to jointly own may now be you or your spouse’s property. Each state has unique property division laws for divorce cases. Colorado is an equitable distribution state, rather than using the doctrine of community property. If the courts determine property division, they will do so in a way that is fair to both parties. Fair may not mean equal.
You and your spouse will first get the opportunity to decide how to divide property on your own. A judge will most likely sign off on a plan you both agree upon. If you cannot agree with your spouse, the matter may go to mediation or trial. If the issue goes before a judge, he or she will consider factors such as each spouse’s finances, child custody and property values while dividing assets and debts.
Colorado’s phrase for child custody is parental responsibilities. Two types of parental responsibilities exist: physical and legal. Physical responsibilities refer to custody and/or visitation rights, while legal responsibilities give a parent the right to make important life decisions on the child’s behalf. As with property division, the Colorado courts will first allow you and your spouse the opportunity to work out a parenting plan before interfering. A parenting plan should include a detailed schedule of parenting time and rules for decision-making.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of a parenting plan, the matter may go to trial. A custody battle could involve you and your spouse explaining to a judge why you are each the better fit for the allocation of parental responsibilities. A judge may also consider the opinion of the child if he or she is mature enough to have one. Then, the judge will rule according to the child’s best interest. A judge may look at issues such as each parent’s relationship with the child and which parent can provide the most stable living environment to allocate parental responsibilities.
Child support is separate from parental responsibilities. It refers to one parent’s financial responsibilities to children, often based on the custody arrangement. In most divorce cases involving child support, the courts will grant a support request in favor of the custodial spouse. The noncustodial parent will have to pay a certain amount to the custodial parent to fulfill his or her financial responsibilities to the child. The courts use child support as a way to maintain the child’s standard of living after a divorce, under the belief that a child should not have to suffer due to the actions of the parents. For more information, call an experienced Fort Collins child support lawyer today.
Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is a payment one spouse may have to make to the other, usually temporarily, to maintain the recipient’s standard of living. The Colorado courts may grant a request for spousal maintenance if an income disparity exists between the spouses. If one spouse gave up an education and career to raise a child, for example, the other spouse may have to pay spousal maintenance after a divorce. The courts may issue spousal maintenance temporarily during the divorce, and then order a more permanent setup post-divorce. Spousal maintenance usually persists until the recipient changes financial status or remarries.