At Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C., we understand that divorce is one of the most complex and sensitive issues a person or family can ever face. It is important to have an experienced Denver divorce attorney capable of explaining your rights and protecting your interests. The issues at stake have an impact on every aspect of a person’s life, from the person’s relationship with his or her children to his or her personal finances.
This depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Some individuals feel comfortable enough to proceed through the divorce process without representation, while others feel that they would be best served by securing representation by an attorney.
In many cases, when the issues are complicated, contentious or numerous, individuals may decide that they would be best served by retaining counsel. If one is unsure whether to retain an attorney or not, it may be helpful to at least consult with a Denver divorce attorney to discuss the issues in order to make a more informed decision.
Even in the rare cases where divorcing spouses agree on all terms relating to the division of assets, child custody, and child/spousal support, the process of petitioning for divorce is complex and requires diligent paperwork, timely filing, and an appearance before a judge. Though it’s possible to divorce without an attorney, it’s not advisable, especially if you have marital assets, marital property, and children.
An experienced Denver divorce attorney will aggressively represent your interests in a divorce while also minimizing contention with your spouse to make a difficult transition as easy as possible for your family. The Denver divorce attorneys at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. help in the following ways:
When you’re going through the challenging emotional upheaval of a divorce, you may benefit from the quality legal services of a cool-headed third party acting in your best interest.
The final cost of your legal fees in a Denver divorce depends on the complexities of your unique case. If you and your spouse are able to agree on terms with relatively little contention and only one or two mediation sessions, your attorney fees will reflect that. However, since most family lawyers charge $150-$250 or more per hour, the longer it takes to come to a signed agreement, the higher the final cost.
If a divorce is uncontested and you reach an equitable agreement on all issues swiftly, you can keep costs down. A hotly contested or contentious divorce may end up causing fees to escalate.
Most attorneys require a retainer fee paid upfront after an initial consultation. After finalizing the divorce, the retainer amount is applied toward the total amount owed.
Colorado is a “no-fault state” which means you only need to show the marriage is irretrievably broken. This means you do not need your spouse’s consent to obtain a divorce. In the past, one spouse could argue infidelity, abuse, or desertion as grounds for dissolving a marriage.
Today Colorado is now a no-fault state and there is no penalty for a spouse’s wrongdoing. Unless, there are issues relevant to child-related issues (abuse) or the division of the marital estate (the dissipation of marital assets on an affair). Depending on the facts of your situation consultation with an attorney knowledgeable about divorce is advised.
The difference between a divorce and legal separation is after a legal separation you are still legally married. The process of obtaining a decree of dissolution and decree of legal separation is the same. And both will address the division of marital assets and debts, child support, maintenance (spousal support), and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Obtaining a divorce or legal separation normally takes the same amount of time, effort, and money.
So why would someone want to obtain a legal separation over a divorce? Spouses may prefer a legal separation to continue health care coverage, retirement benefits, filing of joint tax returns, and additionally because of religious views. Depending on the facts of your situation, consulting with a Denver divorce attorney knowledgeable about your family law issues is advised.
Anyone who has been a Colorado resident for more than 3 months (91 days) or whose spouse has been a resident for that period of time or longer may file for divorce in Colorado. This includes married same-sex couples.
Couples in common law marriages do not require a divorce process in Colorado and there is no divorce requirement for domestic partners, though custody decisions for families with unmarried parents must be made through the court.
Typically, both parties to a divorce live in the same county. In such cases, the divorce should properly be filed in that county. If the parties live in different counties, then the action can either be filed in the county where the non-filing party resides or in the county where the filing party resides.
In the latter scenario, the non-filing party would either have to consent to jurisdiction in such county, or the non-filing party would have to be served in the county where the filing party resides.
No one takes that walk down the aisle believing that it will end in divorce, but once you’ve made the decision that divorce is inevitable in your relationship, the next decision is—who files for divorce first?
The person who files for divorce first is the petitioner in the case, while the other spouse becomes the respondent. Making the decision about who should file is a matter that’s unique to each case. Some couples can discuss their intentions to go their separate ways and decide together who should file first and who should respond to the petition.
In less desirable circumstances, one spouse may fear reprisals or retaliation and may choose to file for divorce in secret while making a plan for separate housing once the papers are served. In domestic violence situations, a petitioning spouse may request a protection order (restraining order) at the same time that they file for divorce.
Except in cases of domestic violence, there is no particular benefit of being the first person to file for divorce in Colorado, since the state does not require one spouse to accuse the other of adultery or other fault. Some spouses may feel that filing first gives them the upper hand or makes it appear to others that they are the one who made the decision.
In other cases, an individual may feel like being the first to file makes them look like the “bad guy.” Making the decision to either file first or to let your spouse file for divorce is a matter of personal choice, but discussing it with your divorce attorney may help you weigh any pros and cons in your unique divorce case.
The divorce process begins when you or your spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage (divorce) within your jurisdiction. You must meet the state’s residency requirement which specifies that either you or your spouse have been a resident of Colorado for at least 91 days. If you have children, they must have been residents of Colorado for a minimum of 182 days before the court will make any decisions about custody or child support. If a child is less than 6 months old, they must have been residents since birth.
Typically, the petitioner hires a divorce lawyer to ensure the petition is diligently filled out and properly filed in the correct jurisdiction. Once you’ve filed the divorce petition, a process server will serve your spouse with the paperwork which includes all of your goals for child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division after the divorce. Your spouse then has 21 days to respond—unless they live outside of Colorado, in which case they have 35 days in which to respond.
In most cases, the respondent in the divorce hires their own attorney and may contest your demands or state their own requests for matters of child custody, property division, and support in their official response to the petition.
In Colorado, divorcing spouses must be residents of the state for at least 91 days prior to filing for divorce. After the initial filing, there is a 90-day waiting period before finalizing during which the court strongly recommends a couple come to an agreement on all the relevant factors relating to asset division, child custody, and child support.
If you and your spouse have a legal separation in Colorado and then decide to proceed to a divorce you must have been legally separated for at least 6 months before the court will accept a petition for divorce.
In a Denver divorce case, your attorney will begin the process by filing a petition for marriage dissolution on your behalf, filing jointly with your spouse, or responding to your spouse’s petition. There is no difference in the court’s eyes in whether or not you are the petitioner since Colorado is a no-fault divorce state with no grounds required beyond acknowledging that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Once the court serves the papers to you or your spouse, a 91-day waiting period begins. During this time it is highly advisable to negotiate terms with your spouse through your lawyers in mediation in order to come to an equitable agreement on the following:
If you and your spouse are unable to agree on the above terms, the judge will make these decisions for you or make temporary orders. It’s always better for a couple to come to terms on their own since they are better equipped to know what’s best for their family than an impartial judge who isn’t as familiar with the unique circumstances of a family’s case.
An uncontested divorce is a streamlined process in Colorado. An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse agree on all terms, including:
When you file the petition for divorce, it will list your desired outcomes for all of the above in a settlement agreement that is served to your spouse—the respondent in the case.
If your spouse wishes to alter any of your requests for the divorce settlement, it becomes a contested divorce, in which case you and your spouse may negotiate back and forth through your attorneys or in-person to craft a mutually acceptable agreement, with or without the help of a professional mediator. In the best-case scenario, you and your spouse will be able to communicate effectively and make compromises to create a settlement agreement that’s mutually acceptable. Often, professional mediators have solutions and suggestions that you and your spouse might not have considered but which will help you to create an out-of-court settlement.
If both parties in a Colorado divorce come to an agreement on all of the issues in the divorce process, a judge is likely to sign off on it unless it is grossly unfair to one party or if the judge suspects it was created under duress or intimidation.
When spouses can’t come to an agreement on the terms of their divorce by negotiating together through their lawyers, the next step is mediation. A divorce mediator is a neutral, well-trained professional who helps divorcing couples work out the details of a divorce settlement and come to compromises on contested family law matters until they reach mutually acceptable terms. Spouses can use mediation at any point in the divorce proceedings, including:
The mediator drafts a settlement agreement which both parties must sign before the agreement goes to the judge during the hearing. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on all matters of child custody, parenting time, equitable division of marital assets, and support, the matter goes before the judge at the divorce trial and the judge decides on all contended issues in a final decree.
Navigating the maze of a divorce is not only difficult; it can be overwhelming. A divorcing party has enough emotional issues and life changes to deal with, but the person also faces the difficulties of the legal process. This can be intimidating, but the Denver divorce lawyers at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. are fully equipped with the knowledge, skills, and resources to assist you with all of your divorce-related needs.
To learn more about the various aspects of our divorce practice, see:
When you are considering a divorce or legal separation, many questions will arise.
Besides filing in the correct county, Colorado has specific residency requirements relating to how you can file for divorce. In order to consider a petition for divorce in a district court you must do the following:
One of the parties must have been a Colorado resident for at least 90 days. If neither party in the divorce meets this requirement you have the option to wait 90 days as a resident of the state or to seek a divorce in the state in which you were a resident previously.
If you can’t prove residency in the state of Colorado, it’s likely that a judge will refuse to take up the court’s time with your case and it would benefit you to file in a state where you meet the requirements.
Your attorney can give you a good idea of whether or not spousal maintenance is appropriate in your divorce case whether you’re the potential payer or payee. A court looks at many factors before deciding on spousal maintenance fees including the following:
Spousal maintenance is never guaranteed and depends greatly on individual circumstances, the ability to come to an acceptable agreement by both parties, or a judge’s discretion.
Absolutely. However, you should be mindful of the impact this may have on children. There are several books, articles, and resources to read to better understand how introducing a third person into children’s lives may impact them. It should be done thoughtfully with their concerns in mind. There is no bright line for timeliness, but common sense should apply. Generally, clients should consider waiting until they are certain this third party will have a long-term involvement in their own life.
Introducing a new partner(s) or new girl/boyfriends can be very stressful. Of course, if no minor children are involved, an individual can make decisions concerning their personal life as they choose. Only word of caution is to not spend a lot of money on a new relationship or dating while the case is pending. In rare circumstances, a court can find that excessive expenditure of marital funds for non-marital purposes is a dissipation of marital assets which may require reimbursement to the other party. A small dinner? Sure. An expensive trip to the Bahamas depleting 1/3 of savings? Absolutely not. Depending on the facts of your situation consultation with a Denver divorce attorney knowledgeable about divorce is advised.
Whether you are seeking the assistance of a lawyer to finalize your collaborative divorce or you need ongoing representation for a high-conflict case, our Denver family law firm offers the level of service and expertise you are seeking. Contact us online to schedule a case evaluation with our Denver, Westminster, Denver Tech Center, and Breckenridge divorce attorneys. Our Denver office is located in downtown Denver, near the Central Business District and Civic Center.
“I would hands down choose CCB over the competition. CCB is a High Caliber Attorney Firm. I was fortunate to have a successful outcome having gone through a challenging divorce with the guidance and support of my attorney Jonathan Bereman.”