Dissolution of Marriage:
By the time folks slide down that slippery slope and begin considering an action for the dissolution of marriage some say that the issues become the pots and pans. The real life legal issues are parenting time and money.
—one of the sad results of divorce is that the kids get shuffled back and forth between the parents. Kids don’t like this, and there are studies about the negative long-term consequences on children. The book The Switching Hour discusses, from a kid’s perspective, what it’s like being shuffled back and forth between the parents.
Unless one of the parents could actually be a danger to the children, fathers and mothers generally each get parenting time. Fighting over parenting time is what makes some divorces brutal and expensive. The parenting plan approved at the time of divorce is likely to change as the children grow older and family situations change.
--If there are children less than 19 years of age, one of the parties will generally pay child support to the other.
—Maintenance is the current Colorado term for alimony. A generation ago, Father often paid lifetime alimony to Mother. Now, Maintenance is designed to help the lower-income party get back on (her) (or his) feet.
Money—Division of property
—Colorado law provides that there will be an equitable division of property between the parties. It is not an equal division of property. One of the technical aspects of this area of law is separate property versus marital property. If, say, a husband had assets when he married, and he kept those assets in his own name, those assets would not be subject to division at a divorce. If, say, a wife had assets when she married, and those assets were used to help buy a home for the couple, then those assets would then be marital assets and would be subject to division at divorce. So the spouse that keeps his own property in his own name would keep those assets for (her) or (him)self at the divorce, but the spouse who used assets for marital uses would have those assets subject to division during a divorce.
Maintenance: Ex-spouses fight over the same issues that they fought about in the divorce, parenting time and child support and maintenance. When Maintenance is ordered at the time of the divorce, it is possible to have the Maintenance modified in the future.
Allocation of Parental Rights:
Remember the nursery rhyme, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage”? When parents are not married but have a baby, an APR (Allocation of Parental Rights) action can lead to a determination as to the parenting time between the parents and the child support. A woman or man who has a one-night affair resulting in a baby can be subject to 19 years of child support.
Because emotional barometers are often escalated in relationships during times of struggle, folks often act out of character. There are clearly times when it is appropriate for a court to enter a protection order for the safety of a man, woman, or child. Protection orders can be entered at any time, and can be modified if agreed to by the parties or by court order.
The typical situation is that a father will have to pay child support to his former wife. A court order for payment of child support is obtained. It is possible to make father’s employer pay the child support through an assignment on the father’s wages.
A marital agreement is often better known as a pre-nuptial agreement. For example, my widowed grandfather married the then-widowed maid of honor from his marriage 50 years earlier. Both grandfather and his new bride had their own children. Their prenuptial agreement essentially said that what granddad had at the time of his new marriage would, at his death, go to his kids. When granddad’s new wife died 13 years later, her estate went to her children.
Prenuptial agreements are generally planning for what will happen if the new bride and groom divorce. Some people believe that these agreements get people thinking about divorce even before they are married. So long as proper disclosure procedures are followed, courts will allow people to enter into agreements between themselves. There are examples of a soon-to-be husband handing his soon-to-be bride a prenuptial agreement on the eve of the marriage, along with the ultimatum—sign or no marriage. If proper procedures are followed, though ill-advised, even a prenuptial agreement entered into like this can be upheld.
In decades past, parenting time, was referred to as custody. Colorado law is compelled to award parenting time based on what is in the best interest of the child or children. It is rare that one parent gains exclusive parenting time because the court considers it best for the child, in most cases, to have interaction with both parents. At times the court will order supervised visitation or parenting time.
Mediation, or the meeting of the parties with a non-biased third party, is often a promising route to try to solve the complex issues of separating a family without the necessity of a court making the decision for the parties. At times the court will order that the parties attempt to solve their issues through mediation. We recommend and encourage mediation with the representation of legal counsel present.