Centennial Divorce Attorney

Divorce Attorney in Centennial, CO

Divorce marks a distinct transition in the lives of everyone who goes through it, and while divorce amounts to an emotional rollercoaster, it also guides your post-divorce financial and parental rights, which makes affording it your full attention paramount. If you are facing a divorce, discuss your case with an experienced Centennial divorce attorney today. 

Too many people hesitate to seek legal assistance with a divorce, as they assume they can handle the process themselves. However, even if you agree on divorce terms with your spouse, things can go wrong that can impact the process. Seek help from our legal team today. 

A No-Fault Divorce State

Colorado is strictly a no-fault divorce state, which means that divorces are only issued in response to the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. As such, either spouse’s wrongdoing will not generally affect a couple’s divorce terms. This said, however, it’s important to point out that an extramarital affair – although not grounds for divorce in Colorado – can indirectly affect the division of marital property. 

For example, if you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that addresses such wrongdoing, the consequences outlined therein will prevail. Further, if the spouse having the extramarital affair spent considerable marital assets in the process, it can affect how the court divides the couple’s marital property. 

The Equitable Division of Your Marital Property

As a married couple, you acquired property and other assets that are considered marital property, and who paid for the item or who attached their name to it is irrelevant. If you came to own something while you were married, it is almost certainly marital property. The only exceptions include gifts or inheritances received in one spouse’s name alone. You and your spouse’s separate property – that you owned prior to marriage and kept separate throughout – will remain your own, but maintaining the line that divides separate property from the marital property can prove challenging. 

Dividing Equitably in the Centennial Area

Colorado employs an equitable distribution process, which means that your assets – or their value – will be divided between you in a way that is considered fair (or equitable) given the circumstances of your marriage. While this might mean an equal division of assets, this isn’t necessarily the case. The factors that go into the court’s decision when determining an equitable division of assets include:

  • Each spouse’s income and separate assets
  • Each spouse’s age and overall health 
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the marital estate, including as a homemaker and childcare provider

Because the results play such a critical role in each spouse’s finances moving forward, the equitable division of marital property has the potential to become the most contentious divorce term.

Complicating Factors

The division of marital property – even when relatively straightforward – can be challenging, but there are certain factors that routinely complicate the issue, including:

  1. If your divorce involves high assets
  2. If you own a business or interest in a business together, or if one of you owns a business or interest in a business separately 
  3. If one or both of you have considered separate assets that intertwine to one degree or another with marital assets
  4. If your finances are complicated in general

A Note on Separate Property

Even those separate properties that the owner keeps scrupulously separate may need to be addressed in the division of marital property. Any increase in the asset’s value over the course of the marriage qualifies as marital property, which must be included in that equitable division. 

For example, the retirement account that follows you into your marriage belongs to you alone, but any increase in its value since your marriage is marital. The same is true of the value of any real estate either of you owns separately and of any separate business ownership. In other words, separate property can be just as complicated as marital property. 

Your Child Custody Arrangements

Colorado addresses child custody in terms of both parental responsibilities and parenting time. Let’s take a closer look.

Parental Responsibilities

Parental responsibilities is the term employed in Colorado for what you may think of as legal custody, and it refers to the responsibility we have as parents to make important decisions that guide our children’s childhoods. The kinds of decisions addressed by parental responsibilities include:

  1. Decisions about where your children attend school
  2. Decisions about the religious education your children receive
  3. Decisions about the medical care your children receive
  4. Decisions about the extracurriculars your children participate in

These foundational decisions can be made between you and your children’s other parent in the same manner that you made them prior to divorce. Additional options, however, include:

  1. You and your ex making these decisions together but one of you retains the right to break a tie if it becomes strictly necessary to do so
  2. One of you making these decisions on your own (taking on sole parental responsibilities)
  3. You and your ex each handling specific categories of decisions on your own

When it comes to less momentous decisions – like where to pick up lunch and which movie to watch – the responsibility of making their lies with the parent who is on hand. And in emergency situations, the parent who is on the scene or who is most readily available will need to make any on-the-spot decisions. 

Parenting Time

Parenting time is the term used for what many people call visitation. When one parent cares for the children the majority of the time, they become the primary custodial parent while the other has a parenting time schedule. Alternatively, both parents can split their parenting time more evenly. Either way, you can hammer out a schedule that works for each of you and your shared children if you are able to reach a consensus together. If not, you should expect to receive one of the state’s standard parenting time schedules. 

Child Support

In a Colorado divorce, child support is employed to help ensure that the children’s financial support is balanced between both parents. The variables that go into this equation include:

  • Each parent’s income and assets
  • The number of overnights each child has with each parent
  • Any extraordinary expenses for any of the children, such as costs related to special healthcare needs, tutoring, private school, or any other special needs 
  • The cost of traveling for parenting time (if one of you lives elsewhere)
  • Either parent’s extraordinary healthcare expenses
  • The cost of health insurance coverage for the children (and the matter of who pays for it)
  • Whether or not either parent’s income at the time of child support calculation is higher or lower than it normally is
  • Whether or not either parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed (in an effort to keep the child support obligation low)
  • Anything else the court considers relevant to the child support case at hand

While a wide range of factors guides the child support calculation, the higher earner among you is likely to pay child support to the other. 

Alimony 

Alimony is called spousal maintenance in Colorado, and it refers to the payment one spouse makes to the other post-divorce in those situations in which both the following apply:

  • Divorce leaves the recipient incapable of maintaining financial independence. 
  • The payor has the financial ability to help.

Spousal maintenance is determined on a case-by-case basis, and it generally does not come into play for marriages that last less than three years. Some of the primary factors that guide alimony determinations include:

  1. Each spouse’s income and assets
  2. The length of the marriage
  3. Each spouse’s age and relative health
  4. Each spouse’s past earning history and current earning potential
  5. Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including in the form of providing childcare and engaging in homemaking
  6. Either spouse’s contributions to the other’s career success
  7. The payor’s ability to continue meeting their own financial needs while paying alimony
  8. The lifestyle the couple achieved during the marriage
  9. If the recipient stays home with minor children (rather than working outside the home)
  10. Anything else the court deems relevant

Divorce Negotiations

You and your ex will be allowed every opportunity to negotiate divorce terms that work for you. This can mean hammering things out between yourselves (while checking in with your respective divorce attorneys to help ensure that both your parental and financial rights are well protected), allowing your respective divorce attorneys to negotiate on behalf of your best interests, heading to mediation, or engaging in all three. 

Doing what it takes to find common ground is generally considered the best path forward and is the only way to ensure that you retain the authority to make divorce-related decisions between yourselves. If this isn’t a possibility for you, any unresolved terms will need to be addressed by the court. 

Discuss Your Divorce with an Experienced Centennial Divorce Attorney Today

Chris Little at CNL Law Firm, PLLC, in Centennial, Colorado, is a seasoned divorce attorney who pours the full force of his impressive experience into every case he handles. We’re on your side and here to help, so please don’t put off reaching out and contacting or calling us at (720) 370-2171 for more information about what we can do for you today.

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