The road to divorce can sometimes be simple, but more often than not, there’s at least one or two complicating detours. While many divorcing couples are able to amicably settle some or all of the issues involved in their divorce, other couples may find themselves requiring the assistance of the court to resolve some or all of their more complex issues. Which category your divorce will fall into depends on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, types of assets involved, extent of marital debt, the number and age of the children, the income of the parties, and the length of the marriage.
In Colorado, what most parents think of as “child custody” actually encompasses two separate concepts: parenting time and decision-making responsibility. When deciding of how to allocate these custodial factors, Colorado courts apply the “best interest of the child” standard. In certain circumstances, however, the courts may also need to apply an endangerment standard. Knowing what facts and circumstances are of importance to the courts when making these allocations, and how to present them to the court, can dramatically affect the orders you will receive and/or the agreements you are ultimately able to achieve.
Colorado’s laws regarding spousal maintenance (a.k.a., “alimony”) have undergone significant changes in the last decade. Knowing all of the factors that go into determining whether an award of maintenance will be made will help shape your expectations, and having a firm sense of what the realistic expectations are from the beginning of your case can significantly impact other decisions you or the court will need to make in other areas of your case, including the division of marital property. Having an experienced attorney by your side regarding this complicated and evolving issue has never been more important, regardless of whether you are the party seeking to obtain or the party seeking to avoid a maintenance award.
There is a specific order of considerations Colorado courts must make when determining how and whether to divide all aspects of the marital assets and debts. First, the court must determine whether a specific item even constitutes property and, if so, it must then assess whether that property is marital or separate in nature. Contrary to popular belief, just because a particular asset is in fact separate property does not also mean that its existence and/or its total value will not be factored into the overall division of the marital estate. In Colorado, there is no mandate regarding what percentage of the marital property each party should receive. Instead, Colorado courts have broad discretion to divide marital property in any manner they deem just in order to obtain an equitable result. Equitable and equal are two different things. Knowing how and what division arguments to make can not only significantly increase your likelihood of being able to settle some of the larger aspects of your case but it can also impact what orders you may receive from the court in all aspects of your case if the division of property remains contested.
The mere mention of these two words often raises uncomfortable feelings, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Unfortunately, many parents rely on a lot of misconceptions about not only what factors go into calculating the amount of child support to be paid but also regarding what child support is even meant to cover. These misconceptions have resulted in child support often being one of the most contested portions of any divorce or custody case. While Colorado does utilize a presumptive formula to calculate child support, it is important for every parent to understand that this calculation does not exist in a vacuum.
The term “post-decree modification” is a term used to broadly refer to any modification of an existing court order that is pursued after the court has already issued your initial permanent orders. Just because a party wants to seek a change of the existing orders, however, does not necessarily mean that the required circumstances exist to pursue, let alone warrant, a modification. Areas in which parties most often seek modifications of existing orders include child support, parenting time, decision-making, and spousal maintenance.
Parenting Coordination and Decision Maker Services
It is often the case that children get caught in the middle of their parents’ conflicts surrounding their divorce or custody case, leaving the children at risk for being harmed by the process. The risk parental conflict poses to children does not end when orders are issued, and parenting coordination has emerged in recent decades as a means of trying to help families move through their conflict to not only find solutions for themselves, but, more importantly, to help the parents protect and promote the best interests of their children. A Parenting Coordinator is a neutral professional who can be appointed by court order or agreement of the parties to help the parties implement their parenting plan, monitor their compliance with plan details, and even help them resolve child-related disputes in an expedient timeline not available to them directly through the court.
Protection Orders and Domestic Violence
Domestic violence occurs in more homes than most people think and can include more types of behavior than just physical violence. In Colorado, the legal definition of domestic violence can include any act or threatened act of violence as well as crimes against a person of property. In every instance of domestic violence, regardless of whether it is emotional or physical in nature, or both, the perpetrator hopes to achieve one or more of the following over the victim: