Amid the ceaseless whirl of celebrity news, quick divorce settlements often capture our attention. These instances make many wonder if such rapid resolutions are only the privilege of the rich and famous or if they are achievable for the average person as well.
Perusse Family Law aims to demystify this concept, shedding light on Colorado and Minnesota‘s ‘fast-track’ divorce mechanisms. Family law attorney, Cindy Perusse, outlines how individuals can cut short the normally lengthy process.
How to Streamline a Divorce Proceeding In Colorado
The swift divorce settlement in Colorado isn’t a privilege reserved solely for high-profile couples. You can avoid ever stepping foot inside a courtroom if you choose. Of course, the key to this is both parties have to meet in the middle and agree on all issues; that means the division of property, spousal maintenance, parenting time, and child support. This is called an “uncontested” divorce, and many couples have been able to spend little money or time dissolving their marriage.
The best way to reduce costs is to get together and make a divorce plan BEFORE you even file or serve any paperwork. This will give you more time to sort things out and gather property and income information. Once you serve divorce papers and file with the court, there will be deadlines that have to be met and court appearances scheduled.
Make a list of all your assets and debts, their current values, your income, and expenses, and set them out on the required Sworn Financial Statement. Even if you agree on everything, you will need to complete this financial disclosure and exchange them with your spouse.
Next, come up with a plan for how to share time and expenses for the kids. A Parenting Plan is the form you will use to tell the court how you want to co-parent. Once you decide on a time-sharing schedule, you will need to do a child support worksheet to determine how much child support should be paid per the guidelines.
Then, the most important document you need to create together is called a Separation Agreement. That is the document that tells the Judge what property and debts you have and how you wish to divide those assets or handle spousal maintenance. Discuss how to divide things fairly.
Typically, uncontested cases have NO spousal maintenance paid to either party, as that topic is always a point of contention in divorces. But spousal maintenance doesn’t prevent you from settling out of court. Couples need to be realistic and practical about what support is needed by a spouse and what income is available to both parties in order to pay spousal maintenance.
Fairness and the “best interests of the children” are the lenses through which a court will view your case.
If you get stuck on one or more issues and need help resolving those, you can always attend mediation to help you find reasonable solutions. You do not need an open divorce case to go to a mediator.
Once you have figured out how you want to deal with all your issues, you are ready to file your paperwork to get divorced.
File the required paperwork jointly. By both parties signing off on the Petition, a Summons becomes unnecessary. If you have agreed upon everything, you can ask a judge to let you get divorced without appearing in court.
Considerations in Colorado Fast-Track Divorces
You will have to wait 91 days after filing for divorce for the court to approve your divorce. There is no exception to this rule. Also, suppose there are minor children and one, or both parties are not represented by counsel. In that case, the court will require one final hearing to ensure each party understands and voluntarily accepts the terms of the proposed agreement.
Minnesota’s Approach to Quick Divorces
If you have no children, no real estate, have been married less than eight years, have unpaid debts of less than $8,000, have assets worth less than $25,000, and have no domestic violence, you can use this simplified process of filing a joint sworn declaration. You can be divorced within 30 days of filing the declaration.
If your situation does not meet the requirements for a summary divorce, you can still get divorced relatively quickly and quietly by coming to agreements and filing your paperwork, similar to the Colorado process.
As with Colorado, the trick to avoiding costs and court appearances is to figure out a plan for dividing assets and debts and co-parenting children before filing for divorce. In Minnesota, you can open and close the case at the same time by filing the Joint Petition and the Judgement and Decree for Dissolution of Marriage and a few other required forms all at once.
There are no formal financial disclosure forms required as in Colorado. But, each party is expected to be transparent and honest in their listing of assets and debts. If it is later found out that there has been a misrepresentation of any property or income, then the divorce agreement could be reopened and attorneys fees awarded to the offending party.
You will need to include a child support worksheet so the judge understands how you arrived at your numbers.
Implications of Rapid Divorce in Minnesota
If there are minor children and one or both parties are not represented by counsel, then there is one final hearing in front of the judge that is required. The purpose is so the judge can make sure that each party understands and accepts the terms of the agreement.
Also, a judge will be reviewing any agreement for fairness and the best interests of the children. If the terms look too lopsided in favor of one of the parties, the judge will ask some questions about the terms. This is less likely to happen when both parties have an attorney.
When parties can resolve their differences privately, it becomes a less contentious and more empowering experience that places the decision-making power squarely in the hands of those directly involved.
The Appeal and Caution of Fast-Track Divorces
“Fast-track” divorces, as seen in the celebrity world, are really a result of behind-the-scenes, private negotiations and pre-filing planning. Ordinary folks in Colorado and Minnesota can do the same thing and get through a divorce relatively quickly.
However, the quick decision-making that these processes necessitate requires careful thought and professional advice. It’s important to consult a seasoned legal professional like Cindy Perusse from Perusse Family Law to safeguard your interests as you navigate these speedier pathways to divorce.
Contact Cindy Perusse today for comprehensive guidance through the intricacies of “fast-track” divorces in Minnesota (612) 249-9343 and Colorado (303) 228-2285.