Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in Divorce

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eggs-oranges-1-1546941-300x226By: James C. McTurnan

The judge in a divorce case has the unenviable task of disentangling the lives and livelihoods of spouses who are unable to reach agreements on their own. Often, the lives of divorcing spouses are complex, and it is not unusual for any case to have its fair share of challenging issues. However, at times, an issue comes along that tests the boundaries of the norms in a divorce case. One such issue has been put before the Colorado courts not once, but twice in recent years: what happens when the “assets” of the parties to the divorce case are frozen…cryogenically? There have been two recent Colorado cases that delve into the disposition of cryogenically frozen pre-embryos that, if implanted successfully, would lead to new human life. To resolve any dispute, a judge must engage in an analysis that is comprehensive, unbiased, well-reasoned, and ultimately fair to the litigants. Resolving a dispute on the disposition of cryogenically frozen pre-embryos compels the Judge to navigate the outermost crossroads of science, existence, morality, and the ability of the law to adapt to our ever-changing understanding of the world around us.  

What is most useful for a prospective divorce litigant in examining these cases, aside from an intriguing story, and the insight they give into our court system and the mechanics of legal analysis. To address even the most exotic legal issues, the analysis must begin with established legal principles, and follow a logical pathway to conclusion. The court, in In Re Marriage of Olsen, 2019 COA 80, utilizing the guidance of the recent Colorado Supreme Court decision in In Re Marriage of Rooks, 2018 CO 85, had to follow just such a process to reach its conclusions. Continue reading

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hollywood-sign-2-2004-1235306-300x226By: Sarah T. McCain

While recently reading the entertainment section of the news, I came across  a story highlighting the divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Clearly most of their issues were not those that the average individual can really relate to. However, there were some items that you see in many high conflict divorces that deal with parenting time schedules and the division of property and debts. 

First, their divorce started with allegations being made concerning Brad Pitt and the parties’ eldest son, then a teenager. Since that time, while you may see photos of him spending time with the younger children, there are little to none of him with this eldest child. So what do you do if a child, and more specifically a teenager, doesn’t want to spend time with you? Barring any issues with abuse and/or neglect, the options are fairly limited. Continue reading

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calendar-series-1-1192580-300x226By: Plog & Stein, P.C.

Chances are if you are considering divorce, you are facing difficulties in your marriage that you don’t believe you and your spouse will be able to overcome. Perhaps you have even made the decision to divorce, but are unsure what the  best time to file is. Here are some facts that are intended to help with this decision. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list but rather a list of some  (non-emotionally based) reasons why it may be advantageous to delay, or not. 

Reasons to Delay Filing to a Later Date:

  1. Collecting on Your Spouses Social Security: If your marriage lasted more than ten years, you may be able to collect on your spouse’s social security after divorce. If you are close to the ten year mark, but not quite there and you think that you will otherwise qualify to collect on your spouse’s social security, you may want to time your filing for divorce such that you will reach the ten year mark before your divorce is finalized.  

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hand-fingers-1-1187038-300x140By Michelle L. Searcy

Colorado law requires the court to “divide the marital property, without regard to marital misconduct, in such proportions as the court deems just, after considering all relevant factors…” §14-10-113(1), C.R.S.  People commonly refer to this provision as “no fault.”  While it seems a simple concept, parties are often unaware of their own attempts to inject fault in a property division.  Most folks understand that the court is not concerned with who cheated or who decided to end the relationship, but there are other issues that may come up in a divorce where the parties may want to argue that the property division should favor them due to the acts of the other party.

One of the relevant statutory facts concerns “the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker.” §14-10-113(1)(a), C.R.S. The first aspect of this factor that one must consider is the contribution language.  I often hear how one party’s retirement should be theirs alone because they put in the work that allowed the retirement to grow.  However, by statutory definition, the retirement is included as marital property because it is acquired during the marriage. §14-10-113(2), C.R.S.   Continue reading

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budget-cuts-1172571By Michelle L. Searcy

Comedians have written countless jokes about losing half of everything in a divorce.  While it is, by far, the most common outcome that the marital estate will be divided equally or nearly equally, parties to a divorce have considerable control over how much will be left to divide.  Sadly, it is not uncommon for people with fairly significant estates to walk away from a divorce with a fraction of what they had to start, and not because their former spouse received the majority of the property.

The first step to controlling costs in a divorce concerns budgeting.  You will need to decide when to move into separate homes.  In many cases, this is a given, but if you are able to peacefully co-exist on a temporary basis, then it is possible to reduce expenses during your divorce by continuing to share them.  Of course, you still need to plan and prepare for setting up separate households eventually.   Actually separating once the big financial picture has been resolved can save a tidy sum of money.

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people-1458971-300x226By: Plog & Stein, P.C.

This part one of a two-part series on Collaborative Divorce in Colorado addresses what collaborative divorce is, who is involved, and some reasons that couples who are divorcing choose this process.  

Collaborative divorce is an alternative disputes resolutions (ADR) process which couples can choose to engage in when they have decided to end their marriage, but would like to avoid the negative effects often associated with contested litigation. The goal of a collaborative divorce process is to reach a full out-of-court divorce settlement through a series of meetings between the couple and their Collaborative Divorce Professional Team (see below). It is a transparent process in which everyone involved agrees to operate in a manner that is honest and forthcoming. Please note, this does not mean that the process will be 100% pleasant, after all a marriage is still ending and no process no matter how smooth can remove the emotional, financial, and formal stresses associated with a divorce.  Some states have even adopted statutes regarding collaborative divorce.   Colorado is not yet one of them.

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By Michelle L. Searcy

Colorado’s Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act sets forth the laws applicable to divorces in Colorado.  While most divorce cases involve parties who live in the same state, often times one of the parties has either moved to or moved from the state prior to a party filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  This article addresses the jurisdictional limits and requisites in such cases.

Jurisdiction involves fairly complex legal questions that may be summarized by asking whether the court has the authority to enter orders concerning the subject in controversy and whether the court has authority over the person.  

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thread-1476487-300x194By:  Jessica A. Saldin

In a prior post I discussed the effect a long-term physical separation may have on your Colorado divorce case.  A physical separation is not a legal process and simply refers to a period of time when you and your spouse lived apart.  In contrast, though, there is a legal process- known as a legal separation- that can be pursued instead of a divorce.  A common question is how a legal separation differs from a divorce case.  

Procedurally, a divorce case and a legal separation case are very similar.  Both start with the filing of a petition and obtaining personal service over the other party.  Both cases start with an initial status conference and an order for mediation.  Ultimately, if the parties are not able to resolve the case by agreement, both a divorce and legal separation requiring a permanent orders hearing to let the judge make the ultimate decision regarding the various relevant issues.  Continue reading

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By: Plog & Stein, P.C.

Many people are reluctant, nervous, or even fearful of going to court. This is understandable because most people have never been to court and find the formal setting uncomfortable. Additionally going to court can be inconvenient to people who live far away from the courthouse (sometimes even out of state) or for people who have to take time off of work during the court’s business hours. Given the inconvenience of going to court, people often ask if they can just “file the papers.” In essence, what they want to know is whether it is possible to get divorced without going to court. 

In Colorado, you CAN get a divorce decree without ever stepping foot inside the courthouse.   If this is your goal, the most reliable way to ensure that you avoid ever going to court (and, in some cases, the only way) is for you and your spouse to consult with and work with attorneys.  Even if all necessary documents are filed and full agreement has been reached, the parties will still need to attend a quick, final hearing unless they have submitted what is a called an “affidavit for decree without appearance of parties.”   This document basically lets the court know that everything has been filed and asks the court to enter the divorce decree without anyone having to physically appear.  This Affidavit can only be used as a means to avoid court altogether if there are no minor children of the marriage or, if there are kids, both parties have attorneys representing them in the divorce.       Continue reading

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By: Michelle L. Searcy

In Part 1 of this article, I started venturing into comparing Colorado divorce laws with those of other states, as listed an online divorce article I came across.  I continue my interstate legal the journey in this Part 2, looking at other states and their laws compared to the ones I deal with on a daily basis in my role as a Colorado family law attorney.

While it is easy to marry in Nevada, Nevada divorces present more complexity.  However, annulments may be granted to parties “incapable of consenting to the marriage due to a lack of understanding.”  Colorado allows annulments on a very limited basis.  A Colorado court may declare a marriage invalid on one of the following bases: (1) lack of capacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol; (2) lack of physical capacity to consummate the marriage where the other party did not know of the lack of capacity; (3) an underage party did not have consent of parents or guardians; (4) one party entered the marriage in reliance upon a fraudulent act or representation going to the essence of the marriage; (5) a party entered into the marriage under duress; 6) one or both parties entered the marriage as a jest; or (7) the marriage is prohibit by law (such as situations where one of the parties is still married to another person).  While incestuous relationships fall into the last category, first cousins can marry in Colorado.   Continue reading