Divorce Attorney Lakewood

Lakewood Divorce Attorney

If you have made the difficult decision that a divorce is in order – or if the decision has been made for you – you face a challenging emotional and legal process ahead. Taking care of yourself along the way and working closely with an experienced divorce attorney in Lakewood from the outset is the best way to protect your parental and financial rights. This helps to ensure you are well prepared to meet your post-divorce future with confidence and purpose. 

Seek help from CNL Law Firm, PLLC today and learn how we can help during the divorce process. 

Your Divorce

Your divorce will be uniquely your own, and you should expect a few twists and turns along the way. You will, nevertheless, need to negotiate the same terms of the divorce that all divorcing couples come up against, including:

 

You and your spouse can take on each of these terms between yourselves, and if you can negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution, you will not need the court to become involved in the matter. If you do hit a snag, however, and are ultimately unable to resolve one or more terms, your divorce will go to court, and the judge handling your case will make the remaining determinations on behalf of both of you. 

Generally, couples begin negotiations by attempting to find a middle ground while engaging in one-on-one discussions (allowing their respective divorce attorneys to provide the necessary legal guidance). If your one-on-one negotiations stall, you can turn to your respective divorce attorneys to negotiate with one another on behalf of both your legal rights and best interests. If you still remain deadlocked on at least one divorce term, there is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) option, which generally involves mediation. 

At mediation, a professional mediator will provide you and your attorney and your spouse and their attorney with the structured guidance you need to explore options that you may not have considered. Any terms that remain unresolved after mediation will likely need the court’s attention. While giving up your ability to make critical decisions on your own behalf is difficult, accepting terms that do not uphold your rights simply to avoid court isn’t a good alternative. 

Your Child Custody Arrangements

A primary concern for any parents of minor children facing a divorce is their child custody arrangements, which include both parental responsibilities and parenting time in Colorado. 

Parental Responsibilities or Legal Custody 

Legal custody is addressed in terms of parental responsibilities in Colorado, and they resolve the matter of who will be making important parenting decisions moving forward. When it comes to this term of divorce, not much has to change – you and your ex can continue making the big-picture decisions that guide your children’s lives together.  

Sometimes, however, one parent takes on the responsibility of breaking a tie when their combined good faith efforts to negotiate a mutually acceptable decision become hopelessly stalled. From here, options include:

  • You and your ex split the decision-making responsibility between yourselves according to the kind of decision that needs to be made (for instance, one of you may tackle healthcare and education decisions while the other takes on those related to participation in extracurriculars and religious upbringing)
  • One of you is awarded sole parental responsibility, and this parent makes all the primary parenting decisions on their own. 

Parenting Time

Parenting time is Colorado’s term for legal custody, and it sets the schedule that determines when the children are with you under your care and when they are with their other parent under theirs. One of the most difficult aspects of divorce can be adjusting to no longer having your children living under your roof with you all the time, which makes hammering out a parenting time schedule that supports your rights as a parent and that works for you paramount. 

If you are able to agree upon a schedule between yourselves, there are no limitations in terms of the schedule you create. If you need the court to intervene, however, it will very likely provide you with one of its standard parenting time schedules, which you will need to make work. Parenting time schedules come in many different varieties, but they can all be categorized in one of the following two ways:

  • One parent is the primary custodial parent, and the other has what amounts to a visitation schedule.
  • Both parents have parenting schedules that divide their overnights with the kids somewhat more evenly.

The Division of Marital Property

Because your financial rights are a major factor in divorce, the division of your marital property is of primary importance. Many people are confused by what makes marital property marital and what makes separate property separate, and this is because the dividing line is often blurred. The assets and property that you and your spouse acquired while you are married are marital property, and there isn’t much wiggle room on this one. It doesn’t matter who makes the purchase, who uses the asset, or whose name is on it – if you came to own it while you were married, it belongs to both of you, and it – or its value – will need to be divided equitably between you upon divorce. 

An Equitable Division

In Lakewood, Colorado, all marital assets must be divided equitably, which means fairly but does not necessarily mean equally. During the decision-making process for this equitable division, the court takes wide-ranging factors into careful consideration. Some of these include:

  • Each spouse’s separate property
  • Each spouse’s earning potential
  • Each spouse’s income
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the marital property, including contributions in the form of caring for the home and children
  • Each spouse’s age and general health
  • Each spouse’s individual needs, including any extraordinary healthcare needs

The Matter of Separate Property

When it comes to identifying separate property, it is a matter of identifying those assets you owned prior to marriage and that you kept separate during your marriage. Such assets remain yours alone, and the same is true of your spouse’s separate assets, which belong to them alone. Things can become a lot more complicated from here, however. 

Married couples tend not to focus on keeping their separate assets separate, and it’s not uncommon for considerable overlap to occur, which can swiftly negate the separate nature of an asset. The commingling of marital and separate assets is enough to disqualify otherwise separate property, and commingling can be accomplished by something as simple as using family funds to help maintain or grow a separate asset or failing to keep the accounting for each separate. 

It is also important to recognize that if your separate asset increases in value over the course of your marriage, which is not uncommon, the increase itself is considered a marital asset. For example, if you have a retirement account or another financial tool that followed you into your marriage and was left to its own devices throughout, the value of the account at the time of your marriage may well be separate property, but the increase in value will almost certainly be treated as marital property. 

Child Support

Just as you and your spouse financially supported your children as a team while you were married, you’ll both need to participate in supporting them financially post-divorce. This is accomplished through child support, which is the payment system that balances each parent’s contributions according to their financial ability to pay. The child support calculation process takes many factors into consideration, but the two that you can expect to play the most significant role include:

  • Who the higher earner is
  • Who has the children for the majority of the overnights

Typically, the primary custodial parent receives child support, but even if you and your ex divide your parenting time more evenly, the higher earner between you will likely make the child support payments. 

Alimony

Alimony or spousal maintenance is only addressed in those divorces in which one spouse is left without the financial means to support themself, and the other has the financial ability to help rectify the problem. In Colorado, alimony generally won’t play a role unless the couple was married for at least three years, and alimony is typically awarded for a duration and amount that allows the recipient to strengthen their financial independence through further education or job training.  

Seek the Professional Legal Counsel of an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Lakewood Today

Protecting your financial rights and your rights as a parent throughout the divorce process is key, and Chris Little at CNL Law Firm, PLLC, in Lakewood, Colorado, is a formidable divorce attorney who is well equipped to help. Our savvy legal team has a wealth of experience successfully guiding complex cases like yours toward advantageous outcomes, and we are here for you too. For more information about what we can do to help, please don’t put off reaching out and contacting or calling us at (720) 370-2171 today.

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