Deciding to separate and pursue a divorce is a serious and life changing decision. Divorce is never easy but there are steps that can be taken early on to make the process as smooth and amicable as possible.
Colorado is a no-fault divorce state which means that a party to a case does not need to prove fault in the reason for seeking a divorce. The purpose of no-fault is to lessen the issues to be presented at trial and to encourage parties to equitably divide their marital estate without the Court’s intervention.
While no-fault divorce does tend to assist parties with settlement, it does not mean that each party to the divorce is automatically entitled to 50% of the marital estate and the issue of spousal support (maintenance) may need to be addressed. This is why one of the most important first steps to take is to gather your financial information to begin to determine what assets and debts make up the marital estate. After doing this, it is wise to consult with a family law attorney. This allows the person contemplating divorce to understand what their rights and responsibilities are in the divorce process. The more information regarding the parties’ finances and incomes - the better - as it allows the attorney to fully apprise an individual of their options moving forward.
An attorney can also help address concerns related to when to file for divorce, when to inform your spouse you want a divorce, and when to physically separate, as each situation is unique. Another important consideration in initiating the divorce process is whether you can financially support yourself upon physical separation.
In addition to financial issues, there are extra steps and preparations to be taken for married couples with minor children. In these cases, the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time schedules, and child support will need to be determined either by agreement of the parties or by the Court. It is also wise to consult with an attorney on these issues before moving out of the marital home as access to the children may be limited if no agreement is in place at the time of separation. Despite the issues arising that are prompting your divorce, it is also important to be sure to treat your spouse with kindness and respect while managing issues surrounding the children. Communications between the parties will be scrutinized by the Court when making determinations regarding the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time.
Generally, it is better to gather the information, consult with an attorney, and have an honest conversation with your spouse should you determine a divorce is the correct decision for you. The more parties can take a collaborative approach when dividing the marital estate and co-parenting, the better the outcome will be for all involved.