Is There Any Way To Shorten The Mandatory Waiting Period For Divorce?

To answer the question above question, we must first delve into what a mandatory waiting period is. In the state of Colorado, there is a mandatory waiting period of 91 days from the date of joint filing or service on the responding party before a divorce can legally be completed. This waiting period is common in a lot of states and is meant to give people time to consider their situation and whether they want to go through with the divorce. However, this waiting period can also feel frustrating, especially if you already spent a lot of time thinking about your situation before filing or if you feel in danger.

With that being said, there is no way to shorten or avoid this waiting period. It is mandatory for every couple getting divorced in the state of Colorado. However, there are a few things that you can do while waiting for the end of your 91-day waiting period. With the help of an attorney, you can ask the court to issue agreements or court orders during your waiting period. These orders can be helpful if you need specific things from the court. For example, it may be difficult to sell your home before the divorce has gone through, but a court order can help with that.  Additionally, it might be helpful to work on filing all the necessary paperwork during your mandatory waiting period and find common ground with your spouse. Completing both of these tasks will make your divorce process go smoother and quicker once you are able to start proceedings.

The easiest way to deal with the mandatory waiting period is to consult with an attorney to see what they can do for your individual situation. If you have a specific reason for wanting to skip the waiting period, it is important to speak with an attorney. They will be able to tell you what is possible in your particular situation, and if you can work within the waiting period to get what you need. To speak to an attorney today, you can call us at (720)542-6142 or contact us through our website.

How Much Will A Divorce Cost Me?

Contrary to popular belief, divorce does not always have to be expensive. One of the biggest influencing factors in the cost of a divorce is the complexity of your specific case. These complexities come in a few different forms, and each essentially affects how much time needs to be spent on a particular case and therefore how expensive that case will be. Some of these things will be within your control, and others won’t – this is why it is important to reach out and schedule an initial consultation with an attorney. In your initial consultation, our attorneys can go over your specific set of circumstances with you, and they will be able to give you an idea of what your specific case might cost and how to manage those costs.

 

What will affect the cost of my divorce?

 

As mentioned, there are several main determining factors that will affect the total cost of your divorce. Some of these include:

  1. The amount of assets involved
  2. Whether or not you have children
  3. How contentious (think conflict) your case is

These factors all increase the complexity of your case and therefore increase the total cost.

How you can keep the cost down?

 

There are a few ways you can help keep the cost down in your case. The most popular way is to utilize our unbundled legal services, which involves having an attorney help with one specific aspect of your case, such as drafting and reviewing documents for you, offering coaching or legal advice, or communicating with other parties, opposing counsel, and the courts. However, this option is not always a good fit, especially if your case has any of the factors listed above that tend to increase costs. Another way to keep costs down is to work on coming to an amicable agreement with your ex through mediation or arbitration. This will save time and money on going to court and is often easier on your emotional well-being in the end as well.

 

Every case is different, so it important to speak with an attorney to get a better idea of how much your specific situation will cost and what your options might be. Contact Divorce Matters today to set up an initial consultation with one of our many experienced attorneys who can help put you and your family on the path to a successful future after divorce.

Everything You Need To Know About QDRO’s

What is a QDRO?

 

QDRO stands for Qualified Domestic Relations Order. The simplest way to describe it is as a legal document that splits up the funds in an ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) qualified retirement account. It is filed with the court as a part of a divorce or separation agreement stating that one spouse gets a pre-determined percentage of their ex-spouse’s retirement plan assets. One thing to note, if you choose to split retirement assets without a QDRO, the account holder is still responsible for taxes on the assets transferred. If you have a QDRO, your former spouse is then responsible for taxes once the funds are transferred.

 

Can a QDRO be reversed?

 

If you decide you’ve changed your mind about wanting a QDRO but it has already been received and processed, it is nearly impossible to reverse. The only way to have it changed is if the courts and the administrator agree that the QDRO goes against your divorce agreement and needs to be modified. If there is a misalignment, you might have to go back to your ex-spouse and re-negotiate in order to get the QDRO amended.

 

Do You Need One?

 

It is a good idea for anyone with retirement plan assets going through a divorce or separation to have a QDRO. In many cases, issues related to QDRO’s are overlooked and left unresolved, so it is important to speak with an experienced attorney about your retirement accounts to ensure you have a QDRO in place if necessary and that you’ve cover everything correctly in your divorce agreement.  Not many attorneys draft QDRO’s, but Divorce Matters attorney Ashley Balicki is skilled in drafting QDRO’s specifically. If you would like to speak with Ashley or any of our other experienced attorneys about your situation, contact Divorce Matters today or call us at (720) 542-6142.

Who Is Divorce Matters?

Divorce Matters is a family law firm consisting of 15 experienced family law attorneys and 25 support staff serving all of Colorado, with offices in the Denver Tech Center, Lakewood, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. Since our founding ten years ago, we have helped thousands of clients throughout all of Colorado transition to their new future with dignity and compassion.

The core values that we practice are integrity, tenacity, compassion and excellence. All of our employees, from the client relations specialists to the partners, uphold these values every day. Our approach is always a client-focused, humanistic one where we provide guidance and wisdom when you need it most. When you begin the process by calling into our firm, we have a dedicated intake team that listens to your situation and pairs you with the attorney that they believe you will work the best with. Once you’ve had your initial consultation with your attorney and you have decided to become a client, the line of communication is always open, and we will strive to never drop the ball on you and your case.

We truly care about your experience with us and want you to get the most out of your time with Divorce Matters, from start to finish. We know these are difficult times in your life, but we are here to take some of that stress and frustration away. Hiring one of our attorneys to handle your case can benefit you in so many ways, but often the most important immediate impact is that we will make the process less difficult for you by removing stress, anxiety and fear from the equation. Our firm can assist you with a wide array of issues – from big to small, simple to complex – and we take pride in handling every case with tenacity, compassion, integrity and excellence. Our #1 goal is to set you and your family up for a happy, successful future.

If you need our services or would like to set up an initial consultation with one of our attorneys today, please contact us here.

What Is Mediation And Does It Apply To My Case?

Mediation is a word you might hear often when learning about divorce, but do you really know what it is?

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process that most couples in Colorado will go through here in Colorado. In almost all Colorado divorce cases, mediation with be required first thing in your divorce process. The purpose is to try and resolve your case by discussing the issues at hand and hopefully coming up with an outcome that both you and your ex can agree on. Mediation is mandatory in most cases in hopes that a couple can have control over their outcomes and settle their differences before involving the courts. The attorneys from both sides can be present with you at mediation to help advise you.

The mediator is a trained, third-party person that is hired by you and your spouse to go back and forth between you and your ex to facilitate the conversation. They remain completely neutral in hopes of coming to a compromise that is in the best interest of both of you. If mediation is successful and agreements have been made, you and your spouse will sign and submit a Memorandum of Understanding to the Court, which will then be incorporated into a formal, final separation agreement.

If mediation is not successful, and you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, then the next steps options are scheduling a court hearing or, if both parties agree to it, you can decide to go to Arbitration.

Does mediation apply to you?

The answer is yes because it is required by Colorado law for most divorce cases. The state wants everyone to put forth their best effort in trying to settle issues on their own in hopes that they don’t have to go to court and make the situation even more stressful and drawn out. It can save you and your spouse a lot of money, time, and stress to go to mediation, and allow you to keep the most control over what happens to your future.

We always suggest having an attorney present with you for mediation in case anything is unclear, or you need legal advice. It can be beneficial to have legal representation because they will be able to use their knowledge of the law, while keeping your best interests in mind, to help deliver the best result for you and your future.

Contact us today to speak with one of our many experienced attorneys here at Divorce Matters.

I’m Not Sure I Can Afford An Attorney To Represent Me, Are There Any Other Options?

We understand cost can be a major concern for people when it comes to getting a divorce and hiring an attorney. At Divorce Matters we offer unbundled legal services or limited-scope representation, a type of service that may be able to keep costs down if it is the right fit for your specific case.

 

What are Unbundled Legal Services?

 

We like to describe unbundled legal services as a la carte legal services. Instead of hiring an attorney for full-scope representation, you can hire them to handle specific parts of your case or give advice on an as-needed basis. Some examples of unbundled services include document drafting/review, consulting and coaching, or review of settlement offers. Some cases only need limited help from an attorney and in these cases unbundled legal service can be one way to keep costs down.

 

Difference between full-scope representation and Unbundled Legal Services

 

Full scope representation is probably what you think of when you think of hiring an attorney traditionally. With full representation your attorney will be there with you throughout the entire divorce process, handling all paperwork, court preparations, scheduling any court appearances and mediations, and representing you at every step. With unbundled services or limited scope representation, you are only hiring an attorney for a specific aspect of your case that you need help with.

 

How to decide which service is best for you

 

Every case is different which is why we offer both traditional full scope representation and unbundled legal services. If you only have a few questions about your case or you just need help drafting a document, then unbundled services might be the best option for you and can certainly help keep costs down. If your case is more complex and/or contested then it might be more beneficial for you to consider full representation.

 

In order to figure out which services fit your situation best, contact us today to speak with one of our many experienced attorneys.

CO Supreme Court Recognizes Same-Gendered Common Law Marriage

On Monday, January 5th 2021 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that same-gendered couples that were in common-law marriages before the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges legalization of same-sex marriage are now seen as valid in the eyes of Colorado State law.

 

Common-Law Marriages in Colorado

 

Colorado is unique in that it is one of eight states that recognize common-law marriage in the United States. A common-law marriage is a partnership between two people where they are not legally bound by a marriage license, but they hold themselves out as married. A couple may hold themselves out as married if they have combined bank accounts or assets, are recognized by family and close friends as married, live together, file taxes jointly, have children together, share insurance, etc.

 

Same-Sex Common Law Marriages Before 2015 Now Recognized

 

This recognition of same-sex common-law marriages that began prior to the 2015 Supreme Court decision is an exciting ruling, as it applies the law fairly for all couples who have ever been in a common-law marriage in Colorado, regardless of their sexual orientation.

 

This means if you and your spouse are in a same-sex relationship and held yourself out as married without a license before the 2015 Supreme Court ruling, you may be considered common-law married if you meet the criteria for common-law marriage. It also means you can now go through the divorce process if you are separating so you can fairly resolve the dissolution of your marriage through legal means.

 

If you and your partner are separating and have been in a same-sex common law marriage since before 2015, contact one of our Divorce Matters attorneys today to help. We can help answer your questions about this groundbreaking ruling and how it may affect your case.

 

You can learn more about common-law marriage here.

This Is How The Divorce Process Works and How Long It Will Take

When it comes to divorce most would say they want the process to be over as soon as possible so they can move on with their lives. This inevitably leads everyone to ask “how long will it be until I am officially divorced from my spouse?” A great place to start is our Divorce Timeline, which can be found under the Tools tab on our website. However, we also want to give a more general overview of how long the process might take. The specific circumstances and complexity of your case will determine the timeline, but overall, this is what you can expect the process to look like.

 

When You First File-

 

Once you have filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the courts in your county, your spouse must be personally served.  Learn more about what to do if you are the one being served divorce papers.

Once your spouse is served, he or she has 21 days (35 for out of state) to file a response. If you and your spouse both want the divorce and sign a petition jointly, the Service/Response step can be ignored. Your spouse may also agree to waive service if you do not file jointly. Just because you sign jointly does not mean the process is complete, and you will still need to follow the rest of the requirements in the process.

 

Once Your Ex Is Served-

 

You have 42 days after the date of filing to set up an initial status conference with the court and submit your financial disclosures. The initial status conference is your first court appearance and is an informal way for both parties and the Court to get on the same page about dates and deadlines in your case. It depends on the county and jurisdiction that you are in as to whether they will schedule a time for your initial status conference automatically once you file, or if you or your attorney have to reach out to the court to schedule your own. The timing for this solely depends on your county’s court and its timeline. You also will need to have your financial disclosures submitted within that 42-day deadline as well.

 

After Initial Status Conference-

 

You have the option to file for Temporary Orders, which is only necessary if there is an immediate conflict that must be addressed while your case is ongoing. Temporary Orders can help with decision making, child support or spousal support, or who will live in the marital residence during the divorce process. Temporary orders will be replaced by permanent orders at the end of your case. A temporary orders hearing, which is a separate court date, must be set to decide this and it will extend your case.

 

Once you’ve had your initial status conference, you and your spouse are then required to attend mediation by the state of Colorado. Everyone who files for divorce in Colorado must attend mediation, with a few exceptions. In rare cases where the parties agree to every issue, it is possible to skip mediation, which would shorten your case. Additionally, you may request mediation be waived in cases of domestic violence.

 

Mediation-

 

Mediation is a formal settlement conference where the mediator (whom you hire) assists in trying to reach a full agreement between you and your ex. If mediation is successful, you will leave with a signed or partial settlement agreement. Then your attorneys draft the final agreements and file the documents with the court.

 

If mediation is not successful, you must either come up with a settlement or prepare to go to trial. If you need to go to trial, this must be scheduled with the court and the timing completely depends on their availability and timeline. This can extend your case; therefore, it is ideal to come up with agreements in mediation or a settlement.

 

Finalized-

 

Your divorce will be finalized once a judge issues a decree of dissolution of marriage which then severs the marriage, and you are no longer married.

 

Post-decree-

 

If a party is not satisfied with the final decision made by the court, then an appeal can be made. There are specific time constraints around appeals, so you will want to speak with your attorney if you wish to appeal any part of your divorce decree.

 

You also may modify certain orders put in place by the courts if circumstances change after the final agreement has been made. Again, you will want to speak with your attorney if you would like to modify any documents or orders post-divorce.

 

Overall, it can be difficult to determine the exact length that it will take to finalize your divorce because every situation is different. Your timeline will depend on the specific circumstances and jurisdiction of your case.

If you have questions about your particular situation or would like to speak with an attorney today, contact us.

How Do I Pick the Right Attorney For Me?

One of the first questions you might ask yourself when you are searching for an attorney is “how do I know which attorney I’ll work the best with?” or “who will align with me and get me the best results in my case?” This is a very important question to consider because if you and your attorney don’t align then you might not be satisfied with their service or your end result. We never want that to be the case. Here are a few criteria to consider when deciding what attorney to hire to make sure that you and your attorney will be the best fit together.

 

Personality –

One of the most important factors to consider when deciding on hiring an attorney is how their personality would work with yours. When you are going through a divorce, you will end up sharing some of the most important and private details of your life with your attorney. Finding someone who complements you and can be a good partner is a key component to a successful attorney-client relationship.

Situation –

Another very important factor to consider when finding the right attorney is your specific situation. Every attorney has their strengths and areas of family law they practice more than others. If your case is very complex, you might look for an attorney who has more experience handling complex cases. On the other hand, if your situation is a very emotional one, it might be best to find a more empathetic attorney that you feel you can talk to and connect with for support. Another example would be if there is a lot of contention between you and your ex; in this case, you might be looking for a more aggressive attorney that will fight for you in times that get tense. Every situation is different, therefore it is key to find an attorney that will represent you in the way you need to be represented to achieve the most successful result in the end.

Cost –

Lastly, one thing to always keep in mind is how much you can afford when hiring an attorney. Of course, this always depends on each individual case and what you need the attorney to help you with. One of the most important factors that can affect the cost of your case is how contentious the separation is. If you and your ex can agree on most things through mediation, this will keep costs down compared to a case that goes to court. Another factor is what services you need legal help with. In some cases, you may only need unbundled legal services, but other cases will require full representation.

 

Finding an attorney with the right mix of personality, experience, and cost to help you with your divorce case is an important step in the divorce process. At Divorce Matters, we understand the importance of this decision. We match our clients with our attorneys based on all of these considerations, to ensure we deliver the best possible legal representation to every client.

If you’d like to get to know more about our attorneys visit their profiles here.

Securing your Visitation Rights

If you are the parent of one or more young children, a child custody order is likely part of your divorce settlement. When parents do not have equal parenting time under their custody order, the non-custodial parent may have visitation rights.

As a parent with visitation rights, you have the right to spend time with your child during your allotted time with him or her. When your former partner’s actions infringe on your visitation rights, you have the right to fight back and the right to be with your child.

How the Court Determines Child Visitation Rights

In Colorado, the court determines a child’s custody order according to a set of factors that enable it to determine the arrangement that is in the child’s best interest. These factors include:

  • Both parents’ physical and mental health state;
  • The child’s medical, emotional, psychological, and academic needs;
  • The child’s relationship with each parent;
  • The child’s current living situation and the extent to which altering it would negatively impact the child; and
  • If the child is old enough to articulate a well-reasoned preference, the child’s preference may be considered.

What to Do if your Former Spouse is Keeping your Children from You

If you have a court order for a child custody arrangement, you and your former spouse are legally required to comply with it. Failure to do so is contempt of court and can subject a parent to criminal penalties.

Report your former spouse’s behavior to your family lawyer so there is a record of his or her actions. Do not escalate the situation with your former spouse by yelling, threatening, or trying to coax your child into taking your side.

Taking Legal Action to Enforce or Modify a Child Custody Order

An occasional missed visit is not something worth taking legal action over. When this happens, be willing to be flexible and work with your former partner to make up for the missed parenting time. When your former spouse consistently refuses to let your child spend time with you despite your court order requiring it, you need to take legal action.

Take action by filing a petition with the court to enforce your child custody order. When you do this, the court will step in to require your former partner to comply with the order. This could lead to the court modifying your child custody arrangement if it feels your child’s health or psychological well being is being harmed by the current situation. Beyond cases like this and cases where the child is relocating to a new permanent address, Colorado parents may only modify child custody orders every two years. You lawyer will determine whether you are eligible to file for a child custody modification and if so, work with you to draft and file the petition.

Work with an Experienced Colorado Family Lawyer

Asserting your rights in family court is much easier and typically, more successful when you work with an experienced Lakewood divorce attorney. To get started with a member of our team at Divorce Matters, contact our office to set up your initial legal consultation with us.