Divorce/Custody Attorney’s Blog*
Divorce is a big life step. The process can be time consuming, and financially and emotionally draining, but you can prepare yourself for it.
The first step once you see with certainty marriage is irretrievably broken, is to make a plan for after you are divorced. You want to move forward with your end-goal in mind: where will you live? Where will your kids live and how much time will they spend with each parent? How will you support yourself once you are single? If you will need a job change in order to support yourself and your kids, perhaps go ahead and make that job change. If you don’t have kids, then planning will be simpler.
For some couples, it’s a good idea to “try it apart” before you file divorce paperwork. It’ll give you a chance to see what single-life will be like before getting the court involved. It’s perfectly valid for a married couple to write up and sign a temporary separation agreement that explains parenting time and short-term alimony or child support. Living apart also gives you a good perspective in your divorce because your focus will be on making your new life great, rather than on your soon-to-be-ex’s shortcomings.
You should reconnect with friends and family members who will support you emotionally through the process.
You will want to open your own separate bank account, have cash at hand, and perhaps a credit card so that you have your own money as you start the next chapter of your life. You will absolutely be required to disclose any accounts or cash at hand during your divorce, so it’s a good idea to make sure that money you are setting aside is reasonable given your living expenses. It may be a good idea to saving money as soon as you think divorce may be a possibility. An average divorce in Colorado costs around $8,000 per person in legal fees.
At the end of a divorce all marital property will be divided equitably and an injunction will be put in place that requires the parties to continue paying insurance and some basic bills at the status quo as the divorce goes on. For most people, the most change happens while they are in the midst of the divorce, before the judge has made a final ruling on who will get what assets. Child support and alimony can also be awarded during the divorce and at the end, but if the other party doesn’t agree, you will likely face a delay in actually getting before a judge to get your money.
When looking into options at the end of a marriage, you may run across the terms “divorce,” “separation,” and “legal separation.” So, what’s the difference?
A divorce, which in Colorado is called a dissolution of marriage, is the process in which a couple ends their marriage in every way. A lawyer can guide you through divorce, and generally you will deal with issues like alimony, distribution of marital property, child support, parental decision-making, and parenting time. Just like a divorce, a legal separation deals with these issues, except that the final order issued by a judge says that the couple is still married. A legal separation can be converted into a dissolution of marriage, but you probably want to speak with an attorney before choosing which to file in the first place and most people go straight for the divorce.
A separation is a little more well known. It’s when a married couple remains married but lives separately for a while. It’s a good idea, if you and your spouse are separating, to write up a contract of some sort with your spouse especially with regard to issues concerning any children you have in common. Separating from your partner can give both of you time to think and be sure about your decision to get a divorce. However, it is generally not a good idea to separate from a spouse in the long term without pursuing a divorce as there can be implications for alimony, government and insurance benefits, child support, and an existing marriage prevents you from re-marrying.
Hopefully you found this blogpost useful! Check out more resources from divorce attorney, Mary Daugherty, by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube @COSlawyerMary.
As a divorce attorney, I’ve seen many couples end their marriages and there are some common themes that I’ve picked up on. The most common one is the lack of good communication.
I wanted to share an easy way to communicate about real things without starting a fight. The technique is called “I feel, when you, because” and it’s a formula I learned while coaching with Girls on the Run. The idea is that you basically couch your grievances without putting the other person on the defense. For example, “I feel angry when you don’t help me clean up the kitchen after I’ve been cooking all day because I’m tired and ready for a break.”
I know it works because I’ve used a lot in my own relationships. It focuses your statement on the issue rather than the other person’s shortcomings, leading you to the best outcome!
When hiring an attorney to handle your divorce or custody issues, there are a few tips you can use to help you pinch your pennies. Remember that sometimes, “you get what you pay for,” so make sure you are paying for the quality of attorney you want! Here are my four best tips for saving money and getting high quality legal representation:
Have a list of goals and a plan before you meet with your attorney for the first time. For example, if you are seeking help with a divorce, you should know where you plan to live as a newly single person, whether you are able to pay your bills (will you need to switch from a part-time to a full-time job?), whether you will need alimony and child support to survive (and if so, how much), how you want to co-parent (including decision-making, parenting time, insurance, extracurriculars etc.).
Pick the best attorney. Choose an attorney that you can communicate with, feel comfortable with, and know will do the best job of standing up for you. You should trust him or her to help you be realistic and also to fight for you on important issues.
Answer questions from your attorney promptly. And submit any requested information promptly so that your attorney doesn’t spend billable hours reminding you of deadlines.
Set priorities and be realistic. Make sure your attorney knows what issues are important to you, and which ones you are willing to let slide. Makes sure your attorney is clear about what your goals are so that she can hone in her efforts on reaching those goals.
Predict sticking points. Tell your attorney if you think that certain issues will be a problem and if you think that certain issues will go smoothly. This will allow your attorney to prepare accordingly.
Every person is unique and so are the factors that are significant to him/her if the need to dissolve marriage arises. Since dissolving one’s marriage affects almost every aspect of a person’s life, I find that as a divorce attorney I must pay careful attention to the areas of life that my clients value most.
Nevertheless, there are some common threads that come up in almost every divorce, and these are the factors the law is most concerned with: the division of marital property (including real property, money in the bank, credit card and other debts, retirement account, personal property, and other assets), the payment of temporary or “permanent” spousal support, and if there are minor children involved, parenting time (the number of overnights with each parent), the designation of parental decision-making, and child support.
Every case in Colorado begins with the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage and some other paperwork, which must be personally served on the other spouse, unless the spouse signs a waiver. The parties are placed under an automatic temporary injunction which prevents them from disturbing one the peace for one another, ceasing to pay insurance premiums, leaving the state with the children without the other parties’ permission (or a court order), and requires parties to maintain the financial status quo. Then there is an initial status conference at which point rules of the case are explained and deadlines are assigned. The parties must exchange financial documents. Temporary orders may be issued either by agreement or after a hearing in court. The parties must then attempt to settle their case before proceeding to a final orders hearing. And finally, after at least 90 days have passed, the court enters a final decree of dissolution of marriage.
In the past year and a half, I moved myself and my career as an attorney from Orlando, Florida to Colorado Springs, Colorado and began my practice taking on divorce, family, and immigration cases. In that short time, I have learned a lot from my clients!
First, divorce is the end of a marriage, but importantly it is also the beginning of a new chapter in a person’s life. Money, housing, and routines are all tossed up into the air, leaving newly separated people to pick up the pieces and try to make sense of it all. Amazingly, everyone gets through it.
Second, I’ve learned the importance of dreaming and planning. When someone comes to me for a divorce, I encourage him or her to try to answer the question, “What do I want my life to look like in a couple of years? What is my ideal scenario?” To the extent realistic, I help them answer the question, “How can I make it happen?” Having a vision helps shape a person’s decisions so that they can begin their new chapter on the right foot.
Lastly, I’ve learned the importance of community. People undergoing divorce have often isolated themselves or been isolated from their loved ones during recent years. Frequently, though, loved ones are still there, waiting to be asked for help. As humans we love to be needed by one another, so call up old friends and family members! Make new friends! And there are also divorce-support groups out there for this very reason.
I hope to help every person who steps into my Colorado Springs office looking for a divorce plan and formulate a better future, whether they hire me or not!
In Colorado, alimony is referred to as spousal maintenance and is common. Alimony can be temporary (during the course of the divorce proceedings) or ongoing (for a set number of months after the divorce). There are guidelines in Colorado Statutes as to what kinds how much, and for how long alimony should be awarded. Unlike child support, the courts may not necessarily adhere strictly to spousal maintenance guidelines. Temporary alimony can be awarded while a divorce is ongoing if one spouse has financial need and the other spouse has the ability to pay. Since Colorado is a no-fault state, awards of alimony are affected by financial factors; including need and ability to pay, relative incomes, relative expenses, and abilities to earn, but not affected by factors like infidelity or abuse.
How much alimony will I get? The amount of ongoing spousal maintenance under the guidelines is equal to 40% of the higher income party’s monthly adjusted gross income less 50% of the lower income party’s monthly adjusted gross income; except that, the person receiving alimony gets capped at 40% of the parties’ combined monthly adjusted gross income. If your combined annual adjusted gross income is $240,000 or higher, the calculation is conducted a bit differently.
For ongoing spousal maintenance, the marriage must have lasted for three years or more and the courts normally use statutory guidelines to determine the amount. Marriages of twenty years or more can result in awards in terms of years or an indefinite amount of time.
This weekend, I was proud to participate with more than 50,000 people marching for immigration, environmental, and women’s issues as part of the 2018 Women’s March on Denver. The mood was enthusiastic, hopeful, powerful, and patriotic. There were so many people there, and all bundled up, shouting and holding signs about their disdain for our selective immigration policies. There were also signs expressing women’s strength, even after sexual harassment and assault. It made me proud to know that I get to help women fight off their domestic violence abusers through TESSA, and men, women and children fight their way through immigration red tape as part of my own practice.
*No part of the information on this page is intended to constitute legal advice.