Mitch Tacy Family Law

Larimer and Weld County Divorce Attorney

Divorce is the legal process in Colorado utilized by couples to end their marriage.

Mitch Tacy Larimer County Divorce Attorney

Larimer County Divorce Attorney

Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. This means that a husband or wife can seek and be granted a divorce so long as one spouse asserts that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for at least six months. In more simple terms… if you believe that your marriage is over and you no longer wish to be married, you have a valid basis to seek and be granted a divorce. In Larimer County and Weld County, no-fault divorce means that you do not have to be and are not required to prove that you have been a victim of domestic violence, abandonment, emotional abuse or adultery in order to seek a divorce. Bottom line: if you believe that your marriage is broken, and you and/or your husband or wife is/are unwilling or unable to fix it, you can get a divorce.

Legally speaking, there are two primary components to the divorce: 1) Separation of the Marital Partnership, and 2) Developing a Parenting Plan that is in the best interests of the children.

SEPARATION OF THE “MARITAL PARTNERSHIP.”

This represents that financial side of terminating your marriage. In many ways, a marriage is much like business relationship – husbands and wives often invest in assets together (like homes, businesses, and educational degrees); married couples also share expenses and take debts together (such as housing expenses, car loans, and mortgages); and spouses can have differing roles within the marital unit – a husband may assume responsibility for providing family income, while a wife focuses the role of “everything” (caretaker, parent, book keeper, transportation provider, operations officer) or it may be the wife that financially supports the family.

Terminating this partnership is a hugely important and often times challenging task. It requires the parties to consider such issues as: how to fairly divide property and assets (property division), how to fairly allocate debts and expenses (debt division), whether or not maintenance payments (post marriage support) are appropriate, and how to understand and adapt to personal, emotional and financial life changes inherent in a divorce. This is not an easy process, and there are a number of steps that each spouse must go through. These are just a few:

  1. Full and fair financial disclosure by both parties. This quite often is a time consuming and laborious task because it involves assembling several years of financial information, including but not limited to: income history, regular and recurring expenses, individual and joint debt obligations, property and asset lists and their values, savings and investments accounts, retirement and other benefits, business valuations, and more.
  2. Budgeting. It is essential that any spouse preparing for divorce thoroughly understand: (i) the family’s current budget in terms of expenses and sources of payment; (ii) each spouse’s budget while the divorce is pending, particularly if physical separation is contemplated; and (iii) each spouse’s budget once the divorce in completed.
  3. Debt and Asset Division. Through the process of a divorce, the parties must separate the debts and assets (both those that are jointly and separately titled). Assets may include tangible and intangible things like: cars, furniture, homes, savings, retirement, businesses, unpaid vacation benefits, and professional licenses. Debt may include things like: loans, monthly obligations (on contract), credit card debts, and mortgages. Generally, speaking “marital” assets and debts include anything that was acquired during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled. The process for separating marital debt and assets is known as “equitable division.” The objective of equitable division is to establish a separation and allocation of property and liabilities that is fair and reasonable to both parties. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal, but that is the starting point.
  4. Maintenance. Also known as alimony or spousal support, maintenance is frequently a consideration, particularly in marital relationships of longer duration. During a long term relationship, it is not uncommon for income inequality to occur for a variety of reasons. As each party steps out of the marriage, their respective financial life and future can become dramatically different – this is a natural result as income sources separate and shared expenses of one household transition to the unshared expenses of two. Absent maintenance, a high wage/income earner may suffer very little, while his/her spouse faces a financial cliff from the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. Spousal maintenance addresses this problem.
  5. Understanding the Personal and Financial Implications of Divorce. Because many seek relief from bad or unhealthy marriages through the divorce process, it is easy to overlook the emotional, personal, and financial implications that getting a divorce brings.
    • Personal Changes. Divorce brings with it significant personal changes. It can significantly alter relationships with children, relatives, in-laws, and friends. It can include identification changes (reversion to maiden name). Divorce often entails changes in the lifestyle. It often includes environment changes, such a moving to a new home or neighborhood.
    • Financial Implications. Separation often requires an entire reassessment of budgeting and retirement planning. Divorce can impact a spouse’s access to health insurance. Divorce can alter one access to credit and ability to obtain loans (for a car or home). It changes that way that people file taxes. Going through the process of divorce or separation can also include professional transitions – some need to return to school before returning to the workforce; some transition from being out of the workforce to resuming (or starting) a career.

and, if there are children…

Tips for divorce with kids

Divorce with Kids

FORT COLLINS DIVORCE WITH KIDS

DEVELOPING A PARENTING PLAN FOR THE CHILDREN

The goal is to create a Parenting Plan that is focused on and serves the children’s “best interests.”  This is known as the parental responsibilities plan (formerly referred to as a custody arrangement). Where will your children live? When will they spend time with Mom, and with Dad? How will the major life decisions of the children be made (education, extra curricular activities, religious upbringing, and medical)?

There are also financial elements to parenting plan (or custody arrangement). These include – determining the child support obligations of each parent, identifying who will provide heath insurance, and developing a plan to address the non-ordinary financial needs of your children, such as uninsured medical costs, daycare expenses, and extra curricular fees.

One of the biggest challenges in a Fort Collins or Loveland divorce can be coming up with a Parenting Plan. There are four factors that often make custody issues ripe for conflict:

  1. “Custody” is a horrible term, it invokes issues of control and possession. The word “custody” invites conflict and territoriality, and it creates a context where parents feel like one parent can win; and the other loses. Sadly, all of this diverts attention away from what should the true focus of a parenting plan – the needs and best interests of children.
  2. Poor Co-Parent Communication. Old habits die hard. Quite often the conflicts, anger, frustrations, and hostilities, which commonly cause and accompany marital strife, spill over and are easily transferred to the issues involved in negotiating, establishing, and maintaining a co-parenting plan. Simply put, many couples acquire great skills in not getting along, and they never acquire (nor do they get the counseling needed to acquire) the skills their child(ren) need in order for both parents to effectively cooperate and communicate.
  3. Marital Fault. Despite the advent of no-fault divorce, marriages fail for a variety of reasons (infidelity, abuse, abandonment, neglect, substance abuse and financial failure). For some, obtaining a divorce does not satisfy grievances arising in a divorce. Custody issues should never be utilized as a means of punishing the wrongs that occurred between spouses. Unless there is a direct impact upon the children – such as verbal or physical abuse, neglect, emotional abandonment, or drug and/or alcohol abuse – the carry over of marital fault to custody issues can be harmful to the process of developing a parenting plan that serves the children’s best interests.
  4. Financial Issues (real and perceived). Quite often, while verbalizing “good intentions” based on the “solely” on the best interest of child(ren), one or both parents are very concerned about the issues (benefits or burdens) of child support. Here are some examples: a) I’m happy to give him time with the children, but not at the cost of receiving child support, or b) I know the children would be happier residing primarily with Mom, but not if that means I have to pay her more child support, or c) I just want this to be over, and I would rather give up any child support than fight with her/him over the children living with me. These are “perceived” issues, most often hidden sentiments, that frequently get in the way of parents working out a plan that is truly the best fit for their children. One real issue inherent in developing a parenting plan is that if child(ren) are going to spend a significant amount of time with both parents, the costs of maintaining two separate homes to accommodate the needs of children are dramatically more expensive than maintaining one common household.

Parenting Classes

In addition to submitting all the required financial information in the divorce process, you will also need to submit a certificate of completion from a qualified parenting class, Weld and Larimer County parenting classes can be found here http://www.tacylaw.com/do-it-yourself-colorado-divorce/parenting-classes/. Many of our clients have found the parenting classes very helpful and have told us they wish they took the class earlier in the process rather than waiting until the last minute. Consider the classes an opportunity to help your child(ren) minimize the emotional damage of divorce, heal from the divorce of their family and adapt to parental exchanges and living in two separate households.

Mitch Tacy Family Law Attorney & Mediator can help you achieve a Fort Collins, Loveland or Greeley parenting plan that is in the best interest of your your child(ren).

 

Mitch Tacy Family Law Attorney & Mediator
155 E. Boardwalk Drive, Suite 464, Fort Collins, CO  80525
1635 Foxtrail Drive, Suite 356, Loveland, CO  80538
970-214-8840
www.tacylaw.com

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