Colorado’s population has grown to reach nearly six million adults and kids. While many families and households remain intact for years, some couples with children decide to follow through on a legal separation. If that describes your situation, you’re probably in need of information on how to divorce in Colorado.
Just as for divorcing parties in any state, knowing how to divorce in Colorado will help streamline the process. It can also help you avoid missteps that could cost you time, money, or perhaps your reputation. In fact, having a bit of understanding of how to divorce in Colorado will put you ahead of the game.
Below, you’ll find some of the wisest tips on divorce in general and within The Centennial State. Use them to determine how to best proceed from the first moment you know that a divorce is likely in your future.
Hire Legal Representation That Knows How to Divorce in Colorado
Divorce can happen for many reasons and under many circumstances. You might have initiated the divorce. Your spouse might have initiated the divorce. Maybe you decided mutually that your marriage was over. Whatever the reason for divorcing, you need to protect yourself, and that means hiring an attorney.
Why should you pay for a lawyer, especially if you and your spouse seem to be getting along during these early stages? It’s sad to say, but things can change very quickly. Spouses who are eager to work through a divorce at first may balk as they try to come to agreements about child custody arrangements or what to do with joint property. Some divorcing parties have gotten into fights over who gets the family dog or cat. So you need to protect your interests from the get-go.
You might not be sure how to find and hire the right legal professional. That’s where a handful of tips for hiring a divorce lawyer come in. First of all, if your spouse already has a lawyer, that lawyer can’t represent you, too. It would be a conflict of interest. You shouldn’t ask anyone in the lawyer’s firm to represent you, either. This means you’ll need to find someone you trust on your own.
How do you find a lawyer you feel comfortable with? Try looking through online websites and reviews. See what other people say about the attorneys you’re considering. Then, check out their webpages or firm pages. Some firms offer low-cost or free initial consultations if you’re looking for a divorce lawyer. Make it clear that you’re shopping around when you call to schedule your appointment. Again, you may have to pay an upfront fee, but you’ll at least be at the starting gate.
If your children are preteens or younger, you’ll definitely want to find someone who is a child custody attorney. While most lawyers know their way around state custody laws and the best ways for parents to come to agreements, not all do. You’ll want to find the most competent child custody lawyer you can. Ideally, this person will stick up for your rights as a mom or dad.
Finally, be sure to ask potential lawyers about the ways they charge. Attorneys regularly take retainers, which are lump sums. When the lawyer goes through each retainer, the next retainer will be due. Be sure you understand how much the average divorce will cost so you’re not surprised by sticker shock. Divorces anywhere can be pricey, and yours could be more or less complex depending upon your circumstances.
An extra “how to divorce in Colorado” tip: Not sure that you’re completely comfortable with a divorce attorney? It’s better to find one you totally trust than hire someone you’ll always wonder about. There are enough lawyers in Colorado so you won’t need to waste time on someone who isn’t the right fit.
Be Aware of Divorce Laws in Colorado
Every state has set up its own laws governing divorces. In Colorado, you’ll want to keep a few items in mind as you proceed with your divorce.
Number one, couples don’t have to get a divorce in Colorado, per se. They can opt for legal separations or annulments instead. However, getting a legal separation or annulment can be more tedious. These types of court-issued separations prolong the breakup, which is why the vast majority of divorcing couples choose divorce instead of anything else.
Number two, you have the right to try divorce mediation. Even if you’ve already found and hired a lawyer, you could possibly save a little money by trying mediation. During mediation sessions, an objective, trained mediator will help you and your spouse come to agreements on everything from who owns what to where your child will spend the holidays over the coming years. If you decide to bring your attorney with you to mediation sessions, you can bet your spouse will, too. And that would kind of negate the money-saving aspect of mediation, quite frankly. So mediation is an option but may not work for your needs.
Number three, adultery isn’t an automatic grounds for divorce in Colorado. This doesn’t mean that you have to stay with a cheating spouse. Far from it. But you can’t get a divorce just because your spouse wasn’t faithful. Instead, you’ll have to prove that your marriage can no longer be retrieved because it has been forever broken.
Number four, you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least 90 days before filing a divorce petition. Therefore, if you recently moved from a different state, you may have to either wait to file for divorce or file for divorce in the state you used to live in.
An added “how to divorce in Colorado” tip: Most divorce FAQs for every state are listed online. Though you can ask your attorney about these items, you may end up spending less money by doing a little research on your own.
Be Sure Your Kids’ Finances Are Covered
Divorcing parents are often surprised to hear that the other parent isn’t willing to pay for something like the cost of braces or tuition fees for private school. Why not, especially since the parent would have eagerly paid before? A number of reasons can be at play. But suffice it to say that they all hurt the child in the long run.
To protect your child, you’ll want to talk about divvying up kid-related expenses either during your mediation sessions or through your lawyers. For example, how are you going to manage your health care plans for kids? Will the plan come from your employer? Your spouse’s? Or somewhere else?
What kinds of activities can your children continue to do? Will you agree to a pool of money that can go toward extracurriculars? And what about saving for big-ticket items like a first car or college tuition? These are major financial considerations, and they need to be ironed out upfront.
Usually, the noncustodial parent will have to pay some kind of child support to the parent who has custody of the child the majority of the time. Often, the parent with the most custody is the mother, although that’s changing with changing families. Now, either a mom or dad could end up asking the other parent for child support payments. It’s important to know, though, that the payments are meant to cover basic needs, not special things like going to Disneyworld.
It can be tough to envision all the financial situations that might creep up, particularly if your shared children are quite little. Do your best to come up with as many situations as you can so you and your spouse can talk about them. After your divorce is set in stone, it’s very difficult to backpedal and try to get a reluctant spouse to give more money.
A bonus “how to divorce in Colorado” tip: Will you have to scale back on paying for something your child likes to do? Make sure you talk to your child and explain what’s happening. Kids won’t like hearing that they can no longer afford dance lessons five days a week, but they deserve to hear it from you sooner rather than later.
Decide What Will Happen to Your House
Your house was once the place where your whole family lived together. Now, it might seem like a big question mark. Should you keep it so the kids can stay in the same neighborhood or school district? Should you sell it and divide the profits between you and your ex? Would you be willing to both live in it for a while, even after your divorce, for the sake of the kids? These are huge decisions and can’t be made lightly.
Unfortunately, some couples are under the gun in terms of their finances. Therefore, even if they love their homes, they need a way to cash out and get back as much equity that they’ve put in as possible. If you’re looking to sell your home fast, you’ll need to start getting it into resale order. That means removing all the clutter and personal effects, scrubbing it from top to bottom, and adding more than a bit of curb appeal.
To be sure, the notion of embarking on a costly, full-scale remodeling project might send you into a panic attack. Don’t let yourself think that you have to give your home a total facelift in order to attract bidders. Your home may just be a little dated. Often, a new coat of paint inside and out, updated window treatments, a spruced up lawn, and newer appliances can completely transform the way a house looks and feels. If you have the budget, consider replacing flooring in high-trafficked areas. You’ll be amazed at how different the place looks.
If You’re Selling…
After embarking on your remodeling, whether you do a little or a lot, you have a choice to make. Will you sell or keep the home? If you’re selling and the home doesn’t seem to be budging, it could be that it just doesn’t make a great first impression. Hire a tree removal service to take down unhealthy trees, prune overgrown trees, and make your yard look neater.
Should you hire a landscaping team while you’re at it? You could. Though it’s not a requirement of how to divorce in Colorado by any means, it could make home buyers do a double-take. Remember, your goal is to get people to picture themselves turning your property and buildings into their own private castles. Help them fall in love at first sight with a little TLC around the exterior, as well as inside.
If You’re Staying…
What if you’ve decided that you can afford to keep your house and pay for the mortgage, bills, and upkeep on your own? You’ll still want to be a little frugal until you get into a post-divorce groove. A good way to save some cash right away is to start cooking meals at home rather than eating out.
As a special present to yourself when your divorce finally goes through, why not purchase a BBQ grill? You’ll be able to make healthier meals that taste amazing, and you’ll have fun worrying less about whether or not another adult will be fond of your menu selection.
Prioritize Your Children
Divorce is hard on kids, even if they know it was coming and are mostly supportive of it. Even though you’re probably hurting due to the changes, concentrate a lot of love and attention on their needs. That’s an important “how to divorce in Colorado” hint. For instance, you may want to take a day to go to the zoo, a local national park, or a kids science museum. Making wonderful memories with them right away encourages them that, yes, there is life after your parents’ divorce.
Want an extra “how to divorce in Colorado” tip related to your youngsters? Be sure to talk to your kids’ teachers and school administrators about the divorce at your earliest convenience. Educators appreciate knowing in advance about major life changes happening to their students. They can advocate for you and your child, ensuring the transition period is less rocky.
Feel like you know how to divorce in Colorado thanks to these helpful hints? Though you may not be looking forward to months of paperwork, you’ll appreciate it when your divorce is behind you and you can focus on your new life.