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.

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.

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.

Are Trusts Considered Marital Property In Divorce?

Parties going through a divorce often wonder how their property will be divided between themselves and their soon-to-be ex-spouse. Colorado is an equitable distribution state which means courts will attempt to divide marital property, including both assets and debts, fairly, but not necessarily equally. C.R.S. 14-10-113 provides guidance on the process and considerations courts use to determine what is a fair and equitable division of property in your case.

When determining what property is divisible in a divorce, a court must first decide whether an interest can be characterized as “property”, and then whether the property is separate or marital. Martial property will be divided amongst the parties equitably while separate property will remain separate and cannot be divided by the courts. “Separate property” is: (a) Property acquired prior to the marriage; (b) Property acquired as a gift or as an inheritance; (c) Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties; (d) Property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation; and (e) Property acquired with separate property. “Marital property” is all non-separate property acquired by either spouse after the marriage.

For example, if Wife had $50,000 in her 401(k) account prior to her marriage, but the 401(k) is worth $100,000 on the day of the divorce, then the initial $50,000 would be Wife’s separate property and the court would not have the authority to divide the original $50,000 between Husband and Wife. The remaining $50,000, however, which represents the increase in value accrued during the marriage, would be considered marital property and would be divided “equitably” between the parties.

Before a court will attempt to characterize property as “marital” or “separate” it must first determine whether the interest in question is even “property” at all. In divorce proceedings, courts define “property” as items that have an exchangeable value which makes up a spouse’s wealth or estate. Courts consider a number of factors when determining whether an interest constitutes “property” including whether it can be sold or transferred and whether it terminates on the death of the owner. Enforceable contractual rights constitute “property” while interests that are speculative are considered expectancies and will not be classified as “property”.

One particularly complex issue of property division in a divorce is determining whether a spouse’s interest in an irrevocable trust amounts to a property interest that is eligible to be divided equitably. In determining whether a property interest exists or not, Colorado courts focus on whether the beneficiary spouse has a contractual right to enforce payment of trust funds.

In the case of discretionary trusts, where the trustee has absolute discretion as to how much, if any, of the trusts’ funds are distributed, and where the beneficiary spouse does not hold a remainder interest in the corpus (assets or property) of the trust, then the beneficiary spouse has no contractual or enforceable right to either the income or principal of the trust. Therefore, the beneficiary spouse’s interest in the trust will not likely be considered property subject to equitable division and will remain untouched by the court.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding a trust and divorce, please contact us here at Divorce Matters.

What is a QDRO?

QDRO stands for (Qualified Domestic Relations Order). This is an Order that can be issued by the Court in a domestic case to transfer funds from one ERISA qualified retirement account to another without any of the normal penalties. The most common accounts that are divided pursuant to a QDRO are 401(k), 403(b), and pensions. IRAs do not need to be divided with a QDRO.

Important facts:

  • A QDRO needs to be drafted and filed with the Court so that a judge can sign it before any accounts can be divided.
  • While not many attorneys in Colorado draft QDROs, this is a service that I provide. I work with the Plan Administrator to get a QDRO drafted and pre-approved before sending it to the Court to streamline the process.
  • There are no penalties involved when funds are transferred through a QDRO as they normally would be for any other type of withdrawal or transfer.
  • There are no tax implications when funds are transferred from one retirement account to another through a QDRO. However, if a lump sum cash payout is taken then the party receiving same generally has to pay income taxes on it.
  • Any Permanent Order or Separation Agreement needs to specify whether any accounts are to be divided pursuant to a QDRO and have specific language regarding how such accounts are to be divided.
  • A QDRO can also sometime be used to obtain past due child support.

If you have questions about QDROs, please feel free to contact me here.

Before You Make A Grab For Marital Assets, Consider This

Marital assets are always a major concern in divorce. Who gets the house? The car? That ugly Dalmatian statue in the foyer that neither one of you could ever get rid of? When dividing property, it can be tempting to try to take everything you can carry, but that’s not the smart approach. There are several long-term financial implications of divorce that you should consider before staking your claim on the beachfront condo.

Divorce will affect your Social Security benefits. Spouses are allowed to collect their own Social Security benefits or an amount equal to one-half of their spouse’s, whichever is more. This means that if one spouse does not work, or works much less, that spouse would likely want the spousal benefit. However, you cannot receive spousal benefits unless you are married for at least 10 years. When divorcing, take into account your future Social Security needs when deciding on asset division.

Taxes ”“ no one likes to think about them, but divorce is going to change your taxes drastically. First, you will lose your Married Filing Joint status, which can increase your tax rate (sometimes dramatically). Plan for this. Second, you may lose the ability to claim children as dependents for the tax benefits. Figure out which parent is going to claim the children as dependents at divorce time, not tax time. All of this information can help lead to a more equitable division of assets.

Too often, spouses don’t think to make copies of important financial documents before splitting up. This is bad because these documents may end up in a pile of papers in the bottom of a box, tucked into a storage unit or attic, never again to see the light of day. If you don’t have copies of those documents and are not on speaking terms with your ex, you may face financial consequences in the future.

Your credit might take a dive after divorce, or maybe you don’t have any credit because you didn’t handle the family finances. Make plans to establish credit before your divorce (through a secured credit card or a loan) so you don’t find yourself scrambling with your finances post-divorce.

Our Denver divorce attorneys are well-equipped to assist you in determining the most equitable divorce settlement for you and your spouse.

Mary J. Blige Divorce Gets Uglier As Husband Withholds Assets

Nine-time Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige filed for divorce from her husband Martin “Kendu” Isaacs in July this year, citing irreconcilable differences. Ever since, it seems like this rollercoaster of a divorce has gone to deeper and deeper depths. The divorce started with a bang, as Isaacs was not only Blige’s husband, but also her manager, a business relationship that was promptly severed by the divorce.

In September, TMZ reported contention between the two regarding the prenuptial agreement that they signed. Blige’s attorney asked the judge presiding over their case to rule on the validity of the prenup, which Isaac’s attorney called “invalid, unenforceable and unconscionable.”

In November, it was revealed that Isaacs was requesting quite the sum of money from Blige: nearly $130,000 per month in spousal support, $100,000 for attorney fees and $30,000 in forensic accountant fees, which he argues is necessary due to Blige cutting off his access to their joint business and personal accounts.

Where Are They Now?

In mid-December, Blige filed new documents accusing Isaacs of withholding significant assets from her. Among them: a Range Rover that Isaacs was supposed to return in February, a Mercedes C300 that Blige wants (while allowing Isaacs to keep the other Mercedes) and ”“ yes ”“ one of Blige’s Grammy Awards. Blige has also accused Isaacs of stealing $420,000 from her, which he allegedly spent on “business expenses” that had absolutely nothing to do with her business.

Denver divorce lawyers serving clients in matters of family law throughout Colorado.

Who Gets The Tickets? What To Do About Time-Sensitive Property In Divorce

With all the hubbub about the rise of the Chicago Cubs, baseball fans have been kicked up into a frenzy, celebrating the momentous victory of the Cubs after 108 years without a World Series win. So, what happens when you’ve got tickets to the crucial game, but your spouse decides it’s time to get divorced?

One woman has taken her estranged husband to court over this very issue. Nancy Riddle of Chicago filed an “Emergency Petition for World Series Tickets” at her local county courthouse. Her husband John Riddle had two tickets that he planned to use to take the couple’s 12-year-old son to Game 4, where the Cubs lost to the Cleveland Indians. Nancy believed that she should have been able to take her son using the tickets, which were purchased by John as part of a season ticket package with some of his friends prior to the divorce filing.

The courts went middle field on their response. While John was allowed to keep his tickets, he was ordered to purchase his wife a comparable ticket as well.

Who Gets Sports Tickets In Colorado Divorces?

Colorado is an equitable division state. This means that property acquired during marriage will be divided equitably (if not equally) in divorce. Using a local team as an example, let’s say a Colorado couple has tickets to the Denver Broncos and both parties wanted to attend the blowout Super Bowl that we won this year (Go Broncos!). If the tickets were purchased during marriage, the courts would likely consider them marital property. As such, both parties would have a claim to the tickets, and through an emergency petition the parties may be able to settle the issue before kickoff.

Our Denver family law firm can help you take control of your family situation to prepare you financially, emotionally and logistically for your future.

Can I Stay On My Spouse’s Health Insurance After My Divorce?

Maybe your work doesn’t offer health insurance. Maybe it does, but your plan through your spouse’s work is better. But what happens when you separate? Can you stay on your spouse’s insurance, or do you have to seek out another provider?

Issues of Health Insurance in Divorce

No matter whether you are legally separated or divorced, you have the option of staying on your ex’s health insurance in a limited capacity through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA. If your ex-works for a company with more than 20 employees, COBRA eligibility is automatic. If your spouse works for a company with less than 20 employees, you might still be eligible for Colorado’s mini-COBRA.

However, your spouse’s company is only required to provide COBRA coverage to you if you notify the insurance provider within 60 days of your divorce. If you fail to notify them in time, you will not be covered under COBRA.

Additionally, you cannot use COBRA forever. There is a 36-month limit on COBRA coverage, so while using your ex’s insurance might buy you some time, you should still be ready to transfer to your own health insurance plan when COBRA expires.

Before you decide on COBRA coverage, you should compare the rates with the health insurance provided by your own job, if there is any. While many employers pay a portion or all of employees’ health insurance premiums, COBRA requires you to pay your whole premium (and in some cases, more). COBRA may be convenient, but it can be more expensive than finding your own plan through your employer.

Our Denver family lawyers are well-equipped to assist you in ensuring that your needs are taken care of following divorce.