Even if you and your spouse have no children resulting from your marriage, there is still plenty to take into consideration if you do decide to divorce.
In any divorce case, there are three main issues that potentially need to be addressed. The first of which is everything relating to any children resulting from the marriage. Everything from child support to decision-making responsibility to parenting time schedules needs to be sorted out by the parties, their attorneys, and/or the Court. Obviously, if there are no children from your marriage, this giant piece of a lot of divorce cases does not need to be included in yours. It may seem like this would make your case simpler, but that is not necessarily so.
Additionally, there are two other big issues that need to be addressed in every case. The first of these is the division of marital property. This can be relatively painless or incredibly complex, time consuming, and stressful, depending on several factors, including the size and complexity of the marital estate, and how well the parties are willing to work together amicably regarding the property distribution.
Even without children, both parties will still be required to file Sworn Financial Statements, which are an overview of the financial resources of each spouse and are a comprehensive accounting of the marital property as a whole. Based on these, the court will then oversee the division and distribution of marital property. Some couples can reach an agreement on the distribution of property by themselves or with the help of their lawyers and completely outside of the Court. In most cases, the Court orders the parties to attend mediation, with the hope that a professional mediator will be able to assist the parties in reaching an agreement. The parties can leave mediation with what is called a memorandum of understanding, or an informal agreement as to how things will be split up. This can then be turned into a separation agreement which is signed by both parties and their attorneys and then filed with the Court. A separation agreement can then be included as part of the permanent orders in a divorce proceeding, which are the final Court orders governing the parties’ dissolution of marriage.
If the parties cannot come to an agreement through mediation, the case will eventually be set for a contested hearing on the outstanding issues, and the Court will decide the property split itself after a hearing with evidence put forth from both sides. While this often happens out of necessity, it is always a risk having a stranger in a black robe decide important financial issues for you and your family. Unless one party is being completely unreasonable, it is usually wise to try and reach a deal before getting to this point.
The third and final major issue is the potential for what is referred to as maintenance in Colorado, but is also known as alimony or spousal support in other states. Spousal maintenance consists of payments, usually made monthly, from one spouse to the other for a specific time period. In Colorado, the necessity and amount of spousal maintenance is determined by calculating the income of the parties and weighing it against the lesser earning spouse’s financial needs.
The Colorado general assembly thought it appropriate to create a framework for guiding the determination of spousal maintenance, which considers the length of the marriage, the amount of each party’s gross income, the marital property apportioned to each party, the financial resources of each party, and the reasonable financial need as established during the marriage. In some cases, maintenance is not appropriate.
In short, although a divorce may seem simpler without children, it is wise to be aware of what rights you and your spouse have under Colorado law regarding both marital property and potential spousal maintenance. Contact Town & Town LLC, The Attorneys of Highlands Ranch. We are here to help you get your fair share under the law.