Broomfield Divorce Lawyer
Maybe you are filing for divorce after much soul-searching. Maybe it’s a mutual decision for a marriage that just isn’t working anymore. Or maybe divorce has been thrust upon you because your spouse wants out. In all these scenarios, you need legal counsel to help you problem-solve and protect your interests.
The experienced Broomfield divorce attorneys of Danielsen Westhoff, PC, guide you through the Colorado divorce process, from divorce planning and assistance with strategic decisions to representation in negotiations or court proceedings. We welcome men and women from all walks of life in Broomfield. Contact our Broomfield divorce lawyers today for a free consultation today.
A Divorce Is Many Legal Matters Wrapped Up In One
Our lawyers have handled the full array of divorces, from young couples parting ways to “gray divorce” beyond age 50. We tailor our counsel and representation to your circumstances and your goals to provide comprehensive solutions:
- Property division: Colorado law requires an equitable division of assets and debts. We help you reach a fair and practical resolution, including complex assets like retirement accounts, real estate or a closely held business. Many divorces require creative solutions for dividing significant marital debt.
- Custody and co-parenting: If you have children, you need to work out custody and parenting time and the details of the parenting agreement. We provide sound advocacy for dispute resolution or contested proceedings.
- Spousal support: Will there be alimony (spousal maintenance) in your divorce? We can negotiate the terms or argue for or against it in court.
- Domestic violence: We help people obtain emergency orders, and we have represented both sides in permanent protection order hearings. These sensitive situations have implications for child custody and parenting time.
- Legal separation: Explore the pros and cons of a formal legal separation as an alternative to divorce.
- Divorce consulting: In an uncontested divorce, our firm offers unbundled services at an hourly rate to address specific issues so that you do not have to pay a full divorce retainer.
- Requirements for a Colorado Divorce
What are Colorado’s Residency Requirements
Colorado has residency requirements for legally ending a marriage within the state. These are as follows:
- At least one spouse must have lived in Colorado for a minimum of 91 days before initiating divorce proceedings; and
- When minor children are involved, those children must have lived in Colorado for at least 181 days before the initiation of divorce proceedings.
Special rules may apply to military spouses.
Personal Jurisdiction Over the Respondent Spouse
The court must have personal jurisdiction over the respondent spouse, the spouse receiving the divorce petition, before ordering the following:
- Spousal maintenance
- Child support
- The allocation of debts to the respondent spouse
- Rulings regarding property outside of Colorado
In order for the court to have personal jurisdiction, the respondent spouse must:
- Be a legal resident of Colorado
- Be personally served in Colorado
- Consent to Colorado’s jurisdiction
- For the purposes of spousal maintenance and child support, be personally served anywhere, so long as the parties maintained a marital domicile in Colorado, and the petitioner continuously resided in Colorado after the respondent spouse left
Without personal jurisdiction over the respondent spouse, the Colorado court can grant the petitioner spouse a divorce. However, certain issues will be reserved for later adjudication by a court with personal jurisdiction over the respondent’s spouse.
What is the Waiting Period for a Colorado Divorce
There is a mandatory 91-day waiting period in Colorado before the entry of a final divorce decree. The 91-day period starts on:
- The day the respondent spouse was legally notified of the divorce proceedings
- The day the spouses jointly filed for divorce
- The day the second spouse joined as a co-petitioner in the divorce filing
- The day the respondent spouse appeared in the case in any other manner
Therefore, the least amount of time any Colorado divorce case can take to resolve is 91 days.
Colorado is a No-Fault Divorce State
Historically states have allowed spouses to divorce on different grounds. Grounds for divorce have included adultery, fraud, and cruelty.
Most states, like Colorado, have moved to no-fault divorces. In a no-fault divorce, the grounds for divorce are that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Only one spouse must declare the marriage broken to dissolve the marriage.
Although adultery is a potential violation of the military code, it is irrelevant to most issues in family court.
Property Division in a Colorado Divorce
Colorado is a marital property state meaning assets and debts acquired during the marriage are to be divided equitably in the event of a divorce. An equitable division is meant to be fair, not necessarily an equal, split.
Marital property includes real and personal property such as:
- Equity in real estate
- Bank accounts and investments
- Retirement accounts and stock options
- Cars and recreational vehicles
- Household goods
The court considers a variety of factors when allocating marital property between spouses. Marital property is divided based upon its value at the time of divorce not separation unless otherwise agreed to by the spouses.
Marital debts are also subject to equitable division regardless of which spouse holds the debt. A spouse who wrongfully or willfully disposed of marital assets may be awarded fewer assets or a larger portion of debt than the other spouse as a result.
Spousal Maintenance in a Colorado Divorce
Alimony, called spousal maintenance in Colorado, may be awarded by the court during or at the end of a divorce case or not at all. Spousal maintenance ordered during a divorce is referred to as temporary maintenance.
Temporary maintenance is only awarded during the pendency of the divorce. It is to provide equitable financial circumstances between the spouses while they are divorcing.
Spousal maintenance ordered along with the final divorce decree is called permanent maintenance. However, most permanent maintenance orders are not lifelong.
The court considers several statutory factors when making a spousal maintenance decision. Ultimately, there will not be a spousal maintenance award without the following:
- A payee spouse’s financial need; and
- A payor spouse’s ability to pay.
The court has wide discretion in determining whether to award spousal support and at what length and amount.
Child Custody in a Colorado Divorce
Colorado makes parental responsibility decisions based on the standard of the best interests of the child. The factors used when assessing a child’s best interests vary, but the court will favor situations that allow frequent and continuing contact between the child and both parents whenever possible.
Parental responsibilities are divided between physical and legal parenting responsibilities. Physical responsibilities are parenting time duties or the physical care of the child at a parent’s home.
Legal parenting responsibilities include the right to make important decisions as to the child’s religious upbringing, education, and health care. Parents may share these responsibilities jointly, hold these responsibilities solely, or be assigned some mix of the two.
Contested Vs. Uncontested Divorce in Colorado
Property division, spousal maintenance, and child custody can all be contentious issues in a Colorado divorce. When spouses cannot reach an agreement on any of these issues, they have a contested divorce.
In contested divorces, third parties are necessary to help resolve conflict. A third- party may be a mediator or a judge.
Contested divorces usually take longer and are more expensive than uncontested divorces. However, uncontested divorces are rare.
Many spouses think their divorce is uncontested, but in an uncontested divorce, spouses cannot disagree on any issues including parental responsibilities. The spouses must be able to present the court with a Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan that meets all Colorado statutory provisions and the court’s approval.
It is wise for a spouse to have an uncontested case reviewed by an experienced Colorado divorce attorney before moving forward with a Colorado divorce. A divorce attorney can ensure any documents are complete and ready for the court’s approval.
It Doesn’t Have To Be A Fight
If you are facing a contested divorce in Colorado, be aware that most Colorado courts encourage or require mediation to resolve disputes in lieu of a trial. At Danielsen Westhoff, PC, our divorce attorneys help clients prepare for mediation in order to make the most of the opportunity while still protecting their interests.
As experienced litigators, we can help you identify the key divorce and custody issues and explore possible resolutions to avoid a nasty and expensive courtroom fight. Danielsen Westhoff, PC, can also recommend good mediators who are fair and get results.
Sometimes a negotiated solution is not possible. Our trial lawyers are equipped to forcefully represent you in divorce court.
Start With An Initial Consultation
It is important to get legal counsel as soon as possible to avoid costly mistakes and position yourself and your children for the best possible outcome of divorce. To arrange an appointment with one of our experienced family law attorneys, call 720-739-1770 today or use our online form.