Common Types of Domestic Relations Actions – Part 1
There are several common areas of domestic relations law that are important to understand. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, as are many others. That means that marital misconduct, other than some instances of economic misconduct, are not relevant. Following are the most common types of actions heard in domestic relations courts.Property Division
In a dissolution of marriage or legal separation, assets and debt must be divided equitably. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal. However, courts like fairly equal divisions. It is a party's job to let the court know what the assets and debt and values are and to ask for a specific division. In order to do this, you have to show evidence of the assets and debt and value. This is done through statements, real estate broker opinions, Kelly Bluebook vehicle values, etc. It is not unusual for spouses to disagree about the value of property. That is why evidence is important. For example, a debt statement shows the current amount of a debt.
Tip: Some unrepresented litigants have the impression that the court can go back in time in the marriage and reallocate expenditures that one or the other spouse did not agree with. That is not the case. The court can go back about six months or so to evaluate whether one person or the other dissipated assets in contemplation of divorce.
A good way to keep track of assets and debt and values is an asset debt sheet. Many unrepresented litigants do not realize the level of detail necessary to present a case for property division. An asset debt sheet identifies all marital assets and debt as well as values and demonstrates a proposed division. It tracks the categories of expenses on the Sworn Financial Statement that you file with the court. The identification of the assets, debt and values should be consistent with the financial statement and should be taken right from it. There are various ways to value your assets. For example an appraisal is the most accurate for a home, however you could also obtain a free broker opinion instead if money is tight. The other party may have different values and a different proposal. Attachment XXX – blank asset debt sheet.
Separate property is property that you acquired prior to marriage. Separate property is not divided in divorce, however part of the separate property may be marital. For example, if you had an investment account prior to marriage, the value on the date of marriage is your separate property, however any appreciation in the account during the marriage is martial property and that appreciation is subject to division.Mandatory Disclosure Documents
Valuation is based on disclosure. Document disclosure in domestic elations cases is governed by C.R.C.P. 16.2. Following is a list of the documents that must be disclosed in mandatory disclosure to the other party.
- Sworn Financial Statement (SFS). The SFS is a critical document in your case. It will be used for negotiating an appropriate settlement and preparation for trial, if that becomes necessary. Therefore, it is imperative that you not exaggerate or falsify any information. You may be asked by the Judge or opposing counsel to substantiate all or most of the information provided on this document.
- Federal and State Income Tax Returns – Personal. Provide your personal federal and state income tax returns for the three (3) years preceding the filing of the petition or post-decree motion, including all schedules, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and K-1 forms for those years. If any such returns are not completed at the time of disclosure, provide all the documents necessary to prepare the return, including W-2 forms, 1099 forms, K-1 forms, and copies of extension requests and estimated tax payments.
- Federal Income Tax Returns – Business. Provide a complete copy of federal income tax returns for the three (3) years preceding the filing of the petition or post-decree motion, including all schedules for any corporation, business, or partnership in which you have had any interest entitling you to a copy of such returns. If any such returns are not completed at the time of disclosure, provide all the documents necessary to prepare the return, including W-2 forms, 1099 forms, K-1 forms, and copies of extension requests and estimated tax payments.
- Personal Financial Statements. Provide all personal financial statements, statements of assets or liabilities, and credit and loan applications prepared during the last three (3) years.
- Business Financial Statements. For every business for which a party has access to financial statements, provide the last three (3) fiscal years’ financial statements, all year-to-date financial statements, and the same periodic financial statements for the prior year.
- Real Estate Documents. Provide the title documents and all documents stating value of all real property in which a party has a personal or business interest. This section shall not apply to post-decree motions unless so ordered by the Court.
- Personal Debt. Provide all documents creating debt and the most recent debt statements showing the balance and payment terms.
- Investments. Provide the most recent documents identifying each investment and stating the current value.
- Employment Benefits. Provide the most recent documents identifying each employment benefit and stating the current value.
- Retirement Plans. Provide the most recent documents identifying each retirement plan and stating the current value, and all Plan Summary Descriptions.
- Bank/Financial Institution Accounts. Provide the most recent documents identifying each account at banks and other financial institutions and stating the current value.
- Income Documentation. For each income source in the current and prior calendar year, including income from employment, investment, government programs, gifts, trust distributions, prizes, and income from every other source, provide pay stubs, a current income statement, and the final income statement for the prior year. Each self-employed party shall provide a sworn statement of gross income, business expenses, and net income for the three (3) months before the filing of the petition or post-decree motion.
- Employment and Education-Related Child Care Documentation. Provide documents that show average monthly employment-related childcare expense, including childcare expenses related to the parents’ education and job search.
- Insurance Documentation. Provide life, health, and property insurance policies and current documents that show beneficiaries, coverage, cost, including the portion payable to provide health insurance for children, and the payment schedule.
- Extraordinary Children’s Expense Documentation. Provide documents that show average monthly expenses for all recurring extraordinary children’s expenses.
A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs divorce and family law matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. Give yourself the benefit of hiring one. This allows you to focus on moving on to a better future instead of spending your time attempting to navigate complex legal rules and procedures.
Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law has 24 years of legal experience and protects your best interests and ensures that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 for a free 30-minute informational consultation or complete our online form.