Divorce in Colorado requires the division of marital assets and debts as well as potentially an award of spousal maintenance, AKA alimony. These provisions can be set forth in a separation agreement entered into between the parties. If the parties can not agree, they can ask a Court to make the decision for them. The majority of parties in Colorado reach agreement, sooner or later, rather than leaving decisions up to a Judge. The most cost-effective way to pursue a dissolution is to reach agreement on the issues and ask the Judge to enter your stipulated agreement as an order.Agreements Between the Parties
It is helpful to have an attorney to aid in navigating through the Colorado laws that govern separation agreements. An attorney can assist in negotiating with your spouse or in mediation to reach agreement. If parties agree on separation agreement provisions, the Court will review the agreement for “unconscionability” and if found to be fundamentally fair, approve it and issue it as a court order. Unconscionability means a fundamentally unfair agreement for one or both of the parties and is a high standard because the court system encourages parties to reach their own agreements.Spousal Maintenance
Maintenance, AKA alimony, must be addressed in every dissolution to determine eligibility. If the parties have been married for more than three years, there is potential eligibility for the lower earner. If so, a decision must be made as to whether one party will pay maintenance to the other, or whether maintenance will be waived. Maintenance can be modifiable or nonmodifiable. It is modifiable unless the parties agree otherwise. It may make sense to have a modifiable provision if there is an expectation that financial circumstances are likely to change. It is also common to maintain a life insurance policy as a support replacement in the event of death.Property Division
Property division in Colorado should be equitable and assets as well as debts must be divided. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal. Some common types of property to consider include:
- Personal possessions
- Bank Accounts
It may be necessary for one party to refinance the marital home if they wish to keep the asset. The ability to refinance is an important consideration in determining disposition of the marital home. Courts will allow a reasonable amount of time to refinance. The separation agreement should address in detail the timeframe within which the home should be refinanced. If the receiving party can not refinance, then it may make more sense to divide sell it and divide the proceeds.Enforcement
Unfortunately, there are times where one party or the other do not meet their obligations under the separation agreement. If the agreement has been issued as a court order, the wronged party can ask the Court to enforce the order. Courts have the ability to transfer property when a party refuses to do so, and to reduce maintenance arrears to a judgment that the supported party can then collect upon through wage garnishment or otherwise.Post-Decree Modification
Maintenance can be modified if the parties did not agree that it was to be nonmodifiable. Property division, however, is rarely modifiable. There is an exception in the case of fraud or nondisclosure of assets prior to entry into the agreement. If there was nondisclosure or fraud, within five years after entry of the initial decree, the wronged party can request to reopen the case and reallocate property.
Are you looking for an attorney in Denver, Stapleton or Aurora? At Janko Family Law, we understand how to assist families in reaching settlement and lowering the cost of dissolution when possible. If resolution is not possible, then we are ready to represent your interests in court. Give us a call for a complimentary 15-minute case assessment or a paid one-hour advice session.