Navigating a divorce in Colorado feels overwhelming when dealing with the legal complexities involved as well as the emotional aspects of ending a marriage. In Colorado, divorcing spouses must fairly and equitably divide their marital assets and debts during the divorce process as well as make determinations for child custody and support. Reaching mutually acceptable terms on all aspects of the divorce is the most challenging part of a Colorado divorce. Drafting a divorce agreement with fair terms that both parties agree upon saves spouses time, money, and contention. If divorcing spouses cannot reach an agreement and dispute one or more terms, the case must go to court for a judge to decide for them.
If you’re facing a divorce, you may be wondering what terms are included in a divorce agreement in Colorado, and what you should ask for in your agreement.
Ask For a Child Custody Arrangement That’s Fair to Both Parents and Easy on the Children
For divorcing spouses with children, the way the divorce impacts their family life is almost always the most important consideration when they begin working on a divorce settlement in Colorado. The state’s family courts place the best interests of children as their highest priority in all decisions and assert that it’s in a child’s best interest to have continued close contact with both parents. The state offers several shared parenting time schedules designed to work well for equal or near-equal shared child custody. Parents may choose the schedule that works best for them and their children or create one of their own with the help of a Denver child custody attorney. For instance, if equal custody isn’t workable due to one parent’s job or residence in another county or state, as long as both parents agree to the arrangement, one parent may have primary custody and the other parent may have visitation every other weekend and alternating holidays. When both parents agree on a child custody schedule, the judge typically signs off on the agreement.
Child Support in a Colorado Divorce Agreement
Once both spouses agree on their child custody arrangement, they should also include child support in their Colorado divorce settlement agreement. The state uses a formula to determine which parent pays the other and how much they pay per month. The formula considers both parents’ incomes and the amount of time the children are in each parent’s custody.
Ask for Your Fair Share of the Marital Assets
Colorado is an “equitable distribution of marital property state,” meaning a divorce agreement must include terms for the fair, if not strictly equal, division of all marital property, assets, and debts. While negotiating these terms with your spouse, your attorneys review financial disclosures. Each spouse may retain any personal property and separate assets. Separate property in a Colorado divorce is any asset belonging to one spouse before the marriage, inherited by them during the marriage, or gifted solely to them during the marriage. These belong to the individual and not the marital community and are not subject to division unless one spouse gave the other access to an account or spent money or time improving a property belonging to the other (commingling property).
Your Denver divorce lawyer can help you and your spouse to separate your personal property and fairly divide marital assets and debts to ensure you ask for your fair share of all assets to which you’re entitled. This includes half of the value of the marital home, retirement accounts, investment accounts, and real estate properties. In some cases, mediation may help divorcing spouses reach a fair settlement agreement.
Ask for Spousal Support (Alimony) if It’s Appropriate to Your Circumstances
While child support is an automatic obligation in a Colorado divorce, spousal support is not. However, asking for spousal support is fair in many spouses’ circumstances. For instance, if one spouse earns significantly more than the other or the other is a non-working spouse with limited resources, the lower-earning spouse may seek temporary spousal support until they become self-sufficient. Also, one spouse may seek spousal support if they supported the other spouse through college and career building so they were able to have a high-earning career themselves, or if they sacrificed their own education and career goals or put them on hold to care for the children and home.
An experienced Denver family law attorney can help you to know what to ask for in your unique divorce settlement agreement in Colorado.