Divorce Process FAQ
If you are like most people going through divorce, you probably have questions and concerns regarding your future, your rights, and how you can protect your assets and your family.
Below, I have compiled some of the most commonly asked questions regarding divorce and the divorce process. I encourage you to read through them for information that could apply to your situation. To discuss your case-specific questions, contact my firm as soon as possible and retain the assistance of a trusted divorce lawyer in Denver.
What are the requirements for getting a divorce?
In order to file for divorce one spouse must be domiciled in the state for 91 days immediately preceding commencement of the action. Colorado is a “no fault” state, which means that the specific reasons a couple decides to end the marriage is irrelevant to the court in whether to grant a divorce. The only requirement to get a divorce is that one spouse believes there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
How long will the divorce process take?
The length of time to finalize a divorce varies. It depends on the level of conflict and the complexity of assets. But, in no event can a divorce be finalized earlier than 91 days after proper service of the summons and petition upon the spouse.
Each client’s case is unique. The laws are complex. We will work hard to get your divorce finalized quickly and to minimize costs. Perusse Family Law PLLC has the experience to assess your individual circumstances and develop a plan of action that will achieve your goals.
What is the first thing to happen in my divorce?
The process begins by filing and serving a Summons and Petition on the spouse. This simply lets your spouse know that you are requesting a divorce and what you will be asking the court to decide regarding custody of children, division of assets and debts, child support and spousal support among other things. A response if any, must be filed within 21 days after service.
Can I change the locks to prevent my spouse from entering my home?
Although it may seem logical to change the locks on your spouse when you separate or file for divorce, it is technically not legal. However, there are steps you can take to gain exclusive use of the home temporarily.
Contact Perusse Family Law PLLC to determine your options.
What is common-law marriage and do I have one?
Common-law marriage is a marriage in which there is no license issued by a governmental agency, there is no marriage certificate filed with the government, and there is no marriage ceremony in the presence of witnesses. The name came from the fact that these marriages were recognized as valid under the common law of England.
Colorado is part of the minority of states that recognize the validity of common-law marriages. There are some requirements that must be established in order to prove the existence of the marriage. Most notably the couple must be living together and representing to others in the community that they are husband and wife.
How is custody of children decided?
How to raise children after parents separate is the most difficult issue in a divorce proceeding and by far the most emotional one for clients. There are two types of custody; legal custody and physical custody. Physical custody means who has the daily care, control and residence of the child. Legal custody means who gets to make major decisions concerning the health, education and general welfare of the child.
The words “custody” and “visitation” are not used anymore in Colorado divorce laws. It was replaced in statutes with the phrase “allocation of parental responsibilities. “It was felt by many that words “custody” evoked notions of having control over someone and parents don’t “visit” their children they “parent” Allocation of parental responsibility is a more appropriate term and includes physical time with children and decision-making. It is determined by the best interests of the child.
A judge is guided by a statutory list of 16 factors that must be considered in any decision on parental responsibility. Colorado has implemented the use of Parenting Plans to assist parents with scheduling time with their children, decision-making and rules for communicating with each other about their kids.
These detailed agreements when approved by a court, become enforceable orders.
How is child support calculated?
There are statutory guidelines that determine how much child support is appropriate for a child. Both parents contribute toward the financial support of the children based upon their proportional share of their combined gross incomes and the number of overnights the children spend with each parent. Childcare and health care premiums are figured separately.
The three components of basic child support, childcare costs and health insurance premiums are added together to get the total amount of child support owed each month. That figure is multiplied by each parents percentage of total gross income. The larger amount is offset by the lesser amount and the difference is the net child support paid to the parent who keeps the child at his or her residence the majority of the time.
A guideline worksheet is a form used to calculate the amount of child support that is owed. There are two guideline worksheets in Colorado. One is used in cases when both parents have more than 92 overnights with the child. This is known as “Worksheet B, Shared Physical Care.” The second worksheet is used in cases when one parent has 92 or fewer overnights. This is known as “Worksheet A, Sole Physical Care.”
However, figuring child support is not simply about looking at a chart, it is about accurately assessing a person’s income. When a person is self-employed and has a large business, determining gross or net income can become a complex task. Perusse Family Law PLLC understands how businesses report income and expenses and we partner with respected forensic accountants to prove the bottom line.
How do I get spousal support/maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is financial support paid by one spouse to the other. It can be requested as part of a divorce proceeding or action for a legal separation.
Whether spousal maintenance is granted depends on a number of factors including age, health, financial resources of the person requesting maintenance, standard of living during the marriage, length of marriage, future earning capacity, time necessary to gain education and training to find appropriate employment and the ability of one spouse to pay support to the other while meeting his or her own monthly expenses. Colorado does have guidelines for determining temporary maintenance pending the finalization of a divorce and recently enacted a law for guidelines for permanent or rehabilitative spousal maintenance.
The new spousal maintenance guidelines went into effect January 1, 2014. It is only a guideline and not a presumption as is the temporary maintenance law. So it remains to be seen how consistently this new law will be applied.
Spousal maintenance issues have always been among the most complicated to resolve in divorce cases. Each family has their own unique financial history. You want an attorney who knows the case law surrounding spousal maintenance and can present the details necessary to prove your case for or against spousal support.
It is important that you retain the representation of an experienced professional as soon as you consider filing for divorce or need to work through any family law concern. For more information, contact my office today and schedule a case evaluation.