You deserve to have a divorce lawyer on your side to protect your interests and help you navigate the complex landscape of marriage dissolution.
The team at Shapiro Family Law is here to help. Our divorce attorneys have experience litigating divorces as well as securing favorable outcomes in alternative dispute resolution scenarios in Castle Rock and throughout Colorado.
Whether you need help navigating a divorce, resolving child custody issues, or you seek a post-decree modification, call us at 303-695-0200 or contact us online.
How Divorce Works in Castle Rock
Colorado is one of 18 states that follows a pure “no-fault” divorce process. This means that couples don’t have to cite a specific reason for getting a divorce.
Further, even if one spouse was more “responsible” than the other for the demise of the marriage by being unfaithful, it doesn’t influence a court’s decision about child custody or property division.
Instead of explaining why you want a divorce, all you have to divulge to the court is that there are irreconcilable differences. In other words, the reason for the divorce is that you and your spouse can no longer stay together or resolve the conflict that led to the divorce.
The advantage of no-fault divorce is that you don’t have to air dirty laundry in court or divulge details about your relationship that end up in the public record.
By avoiding assigning blame and pointing fingers, divorce proceedings can become more efficient, but it is still fraught with emotional, logistic, and financial issues that legal representation can help resolve.
For divorcing couples wishing to stay out of the courtroom, mediation may be an option.
With mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party to settle and resolve issues related to your divorce. Each partner can choose to have an attorney represent them during mediation to help ensure their best interests are protected. This is helpful because mediators cannot provide legal advice or testify in court on your behalf if mediation is not successful.
Mediation can be advantageous for several reasons, including the following:
- Mediation is usually quicker and less expensive, so you save time and money
- Any settlement offers are confidential because there is no public record
- The goal is to compromise, so bullying or uneven settlements are less likely to occur
When mediation is successful, divorce can be more amicable, and both partners are in a better position to get what they want through compromise.
Mediation versus Divorce Litigation
While each partner can have their own attorney during mediation, the similarities between mediation and divorce end there. When you choose the route of mediation, you can potentially resolve the issues of your divorce on your terms, without the involvement of the court.
Conversely, with litigation, a judge will decide each issue of your divorce. Instead of a compromise where each party has the potential to be satisfied, a judge may rule in a way that makes one or both parties extremely unhappy.
The lack of control can give many divorcing couples pause, and it often inspires couples to resolve issues outside of the courtroom, if possible.
A Note About Mediation in Castle Rock
Generally, mediation is a voluntary process, but some counties in Colorado require that couples begin the divorce process with at least one round of mediation.
The issues that couples work to resolve in mediation include:
- Property division
- Alimony and spousal support
- Child custody and decision-making
- Logistical issues about selling marital property, taking responsibility for bills, etc.
Assuming you and your spouse can agree on the salient terms, Shapiro Family Law will draft a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the divorce agreement. This document is then submitted to the court. If it’s approved, the agreement becomes an official, legally binding court order.
Every issue in a divorce has the potential to become contentious, including how parenting time and decision-making authority are shared.
From the court’s perspective, the number one priority is looking out for the best interests of the child. While it can be assumed that both parents want what is best for their child(ren), conflict arises due to differing opinions and lifestyles.
Within the framework of child custody, two vital issues must be decided:
- Who has decision-making authority?
- How will parenting time be allocated?
There are a lot of decisions parents make when raising their children, and when the parents are no longer living under the same roof, issues can arise about who decides the following for the child:
- Food and diet
Depending on the situation, decision-making may rest on a single parent, or both parents may have input about one or more critical issues. When the court determines who gets decision-making authority, they will often look to the following:
- How well each parent cooperates in joint decision-making
- Past behavior in this area
- The relationship between the parent and child
- How decision-making authority can impact the child
In addition to determining who makes decisions about the child’s health and lifestyle, allocating parenting time is also a major factor in child custody proceedings.
Colorado courts will sometimes assign a parental responsibilities evaluator or a parenting coordinator to psychologically assess the child and the situation. These parties will make recommendations to the court about how to proceed with the division of parenting time.
At Shapiro Family Law, we can work with you to prepare you for these various assessments.
Deciding how to divide marital property can also be fraught with complications, and Colorado’s “equitable distribution” laws can still leave one partner feeling like they got the short end of the stick.
One of the first issues to resolve is defining which property is marital property and which property is separate. If you have debt, that will also be measured.
There are several factors that contribute to how martial property is divided, including the following:
- Overall property value
- Individual contributions to acquiring marital property (including homemaking)
- Each spouse’s economic standing
- Whether the value of the property increased or decreased (and by how much)
- Whether either spouse’s separate property was depleted to maintain the marital property
Financial matters in divorce cases can become complex, especially in high-net-worth divorce cases. We work with a team of financial advisors, forensic accountants, and actuaries to help you obtain your fair share in a settlement.
Contact an Experienced Castle Rock Divorce Attorney
Whether your circumstances are an amicable, uncontested divorce or you and your partner are in a bitter battle about property division and child custody issues, the team at Shapiro Family Law can help.
Call us at 303-695-0200 to discuss your situation.