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Boulder County Divorce Law Blog

Property division can take common-law spouses by surprise

Many couples in Boulder County are taking longer to tie the knot than previous generations. Some spend time living together, perhaps commingling their finances or even raising children together before marrying. However, even without a traditional marriage, these partners may have to deal with property division and other divorce legal issues after they break up.

Recently, one Colorado woman -- a single mom -- shared her story of living with her boyfriend in her house. The couple shared a bank account for household expenses. Eventually they broke up; the woman sold the house and moved into a new one. When her ex-boyfriend continued to harass her, she began looking into her legal options to protect herself and her family.

Singer's ex-husband seeks spousal support modification

Readers of our Boulder County Divorce Law Blog are familiar with questions surrounding one spouse's legal obligation to continue to support the other after a divorce. How much spousal support must one pay, and for how long, are important to be aware of during the divorce process. However, even after the separation has been finalized and payments begin, it may be possible to request changes to alimony payments, under certain circumstances.

A recent example of this very phenomenon involves singer Mary J. Blige and her former husband and manager, Kendu Isaacs. Isaacs was awarded $30,000 per month in spousal support after their divorce last summer. Recently, however, he has claimed that several songs on Blige's last album were negative songs about him specifically and that they were so detrimental to his career that he is unable to earn an income.

Requesting a spousal support modification in Colorado

Couples seeking to end their marriage and go their separate ways often have to settle bitter disputes before they can move on. A common one is the amount of spousal support one will have to pay to the other after the divorce. This amount, however, is not set in stone: either spouse can request a modification, or a change in the amount that is paid. Let's take a closer look at what's required in order to request a modification, as it may not be as difficult as some would expect.

The first step is to complete two forms: one called JDF 1401, Motion/Stipulation to Modify or Terminate Maintenance, and the other called JDF 1402, Order to Modify or Terminate Maintenance. The forms are accessible online; you can complete them online and print them, or just print the blank forms and fill them out that way. You'll need to fill out the JDF 1401 completely, but only enter the caption on the JDF 1402. Make copies of both forms for your former spouse and for the Court.

Is there an alternative to alimony?

Sometimes the emotional turbulence of divorce coupled with the uncertainty of the future can distract from effective legal negotiation and proper financial planning. One area where this is evident is alimony, also known as spousal support. Most people assume there is no alternative to the traditional monthly-payment alimony structure. A couple getting divorced, however, may request to pay a lump sum rather than make monthly payments. There are advantages to a lump sum approach for both sides.

First, divorce can be a challenging process, so the person responsible for alimony may just want to move on with their lives, and paying one lump sum avoids the constant monthly reminder of the divorce. Likewise, because a lump sum alimony is one transaction, there will be no collection problems after the fact. Additionally, alimony can cease if the recipient remarries. Moreover, if the recipient gets a newer and higher paying job, the paying spouse could convince the judge to change the alimony.

What will divorce do to my retirement plan?

Important financial considerations can sometimes overlooked during a stressful divorce. Divorce can be a difficult process, so it isn't surprising that both parties may just want it to be over with as soon as possible. While many people going through this emotional process focus on the present, it can be easy to lose sight of the future, and this is especially true with retirement plans. Retirement, after all, may be a long way away for some, and when it comes to the division of marital property and asset valuation, it is often the family home that gets the attention.

However, retirement plans are arguably just as important, because a person going through a divorce is about to have only one source of income rather than two, at least for the time being. In essence, if a retirement plan isn't handled properly, the divorcee's age of retirement might be pushed back substantially. In order to avoid working late into life, 401(k)s, pensions, and other retirement plans should be given careful consideration.

Understanding child custody

The most sensitive and emotionally trying legal issue in many divorces is child custody. Coming to a just division of parenting time can spark and ignite some unpleasant feelings and emotions, but it is important to be remain collected through this process. It is important to remember that this process is about the child, and the court will decide matters based on its interpretation of the best interest of the child.

Colorado courts generally use the term "parental responsibilities" when discussing child custody issues. Court work under the assumption that it is in the best interest of the child to maintain a relationship with both parents, and so courts attempt to divide the parenting responsibilities between the parents in a way that meets the child's best interest. This process can often leave one parent with primary responsibilities, while the other parent retains rights to visitation and other parental roles. In rare cases, if the child has been abused, the court will delegate sole parenting responsibility to the parent not involved in the abuse.

To sell or keep: what to do with the family home during divorce

Divorce can be a draining process for the unprepared. From the events leading to the divorce to the years following, the effects of divorce could ripple into every aspect of a person's life. Unfortunately, even confident couples that are intent on handling the process peacefully can turn hostile over one common area: the division of marital property. The division of marital property can be a chaotic sea to navigate through, and the most difficult part of the journey is how to handle the family home.

The division of marital property is the process in which the court or, hopefully, the divorcing couple, divides the property obtained during the marriage, sometimes called "equitable distribution." During the settlement process, the divorcing parties will attempt to reach a fair agreement regarding the division of marital property. If the parties cannot decide how to divide the property, the court will examine the relevant evidence and come to a fair resolution. The marital home, however, brings additional issues.

How is child support calculated in Colorado?

Child support payments are not a penalty imposed on parents who do not have physical custody of their kids. In fact, child support payments are an opportunity for custodial and noncustodial parents alike to provide their kids with the support they require to thrive and live successful, happy lives in the wake of their parents' separations and divorces. This post will generally discuss how child support is calculated in Colorado but readers are cautioned to seek their own legal advice on matters relating to their specific family law questions.

When courts establish child support figures for the families that appear in their chambers they begin by evaluating the gross incomes of the parents subject to the support determinations. Not all income is factored into a parent's gross income calculation, and once the gross incomes of the parents are determined those sums are added together and from that total child support totals may be derived.

Parental responsibilities can vary based on facts of custody case

How children will be raised and shared between their parents is often a major concern for Colorado residents who choose to go through divorce. In Colorado courts are involved in the process of ensuring that the divorce litigants understand their parental responsibilities, otherwise understood as their custodial rights, during and after their marriages have ended.

The responsibilities that divorced parents have toward their kids are the same as those that married parents must meet in order to provide the necessary support for their children - physical custodianship and legal decision-making. However, after a divorce one parent may find that they lack physical custodial or legal decision-making rights if a court decides that it is in the best interests of the child to do so. Parents often share legal responsibilities toward their kids after divorce but if there is a reason to deny a parent physical custodial rights then such an outcome may occur.

Money matters are paramount during a divorce

Most people work their entire lives to build up their wealth, save for the future and then enjoy their retirement years without having to worry about where their money will come from. When they plan for the future some Colorado residents are able to build significant nest eggs that can not only allow them to maintain their standards of living but also enjoy the freedom that comes with retirement without employment. A well-planned retirement strategy can withstand many financial storms but one legal issue can hit a person's accumulated wealth like a Category 5 hurricane: divorce.

During a divorce a court will require the parties to the legal process to recognize their property as marital or separate. If an item of property is deemed separate then it stays the property of its individual owner. However, if it is determined to be marital property then it may be subject to the laws of division and may be liquidated, sold off or given exclusively to one of the divorcing parties.