Getting a divorce is a significant life decision. While you cannot adequately prepare for all the life changes ahead of you, there are specific steps you can take before embarking on the divorce proceedings.
The tips listed below—both general and specific to Colorado divorce law—should help you get more organized during this challenging time, as well as help minimize the emotional and financial impact of the divorce on your family.
How Do You Prepare for a Divorce
The decision to get a divorce requires both mental and physical preparations. Before you break the decision to your soon-to-be-ex, we recommend doing the following:
- Research different divorce strategies. A divorce does not always mean going to court. You have less stressful alternatives such as mediation and collaborative divorce.
- Decide on legal representation. Depending on your divorce route, you may need an amicable divorce attorney who can lead negotiations with your spouse or a more brazen specialist to protect your best interest in the court. Find a Colorado divorce attorney who best matches your case and can transparently explain your options.
- Get organized financially. Asset division is often the most contesting part of every divorce. Decide what assets you’d prefer to keep and where you are willing to negotiate.
- Prepare supporting documents. Detailing your income, contribution to the household, pre-marital assets, etc. Pull out a prenup agreement if you had one.
- Get emotional support. Every divorce is mentally draining. Ensure that you have a trusted person to lean onto for emotional support.
- Map your post-divorce life. Be pragmatic and estimate how much your single life will cost you. Do you have a place to stay or would you rather keep the house? If you Alimony and child support may not fully cover your new life. So think through the adjustments you may need to make in the future.
Understand Your Divorce Options
Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you and your spouse only need to state that your marriage is beyond repair to begin the marriage dissolution process.
Depending on your circumstances, you may choose to either go through an uncontested or contested divorce process.
An uncontested divorce is a more amicable termination of the marriage. In this case, you and your spouse already have an agreement on all the divorce-related issues such as custody, child support, division of marital property, and alimony and just need to file the papers.
A contested divorce assumes that you cannot reach an agreement on certain issues and need legal counsel to settle your disputes. However, this type of divorce does not always include court appearances. In fact, there are three legal options you can choose from:
- Mediation – you can hire a neutral third-party (professional mediator) to help you settle the terms of your divorce. Mediation often is a less emotionally draining and costly option for getting a divorce in Colorado.
- Collaborative divorce – both you and your spouse hire separate legal representation and agree to openly share all the information regarding your divorce and work out an agreement on mutually acceptable terms.
- Litigation – is the usual route for contested divorces when couples cannot reach an agreement on their own. In this case, divorce attorneys will collaborate with the other party on your behalf and try to negotiate the best settlement possible.
Find Appropriate Representation
No matter which divorce route you choose, be sure to hire an attorney who has significant experience in cases similar to yours; is responsive and trustworthy.
After you sign on with the right candidate, you will have to provide them with your statement of net worth, a preferable custody agreement (if you have children), as well as additional information that you plan to use in your case. So make sure that you have all the necessary document copies ready in advance.
Prepare the Necessary Paperwork
Divorce is a legal procedure. Respectively, be mentally ready for a lot of divorce paperwork. Here’s what to prepare for divorce in Colorado:
- An inventory of jointly-owned assets and desired arrangements for the division
- Financial statements and other supporting documents detailing your income, contributions, debt, etc
- A copy of a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement (if any)
- Custody preferences (if the children are involved)
- State-required divorce forms such as Case Information, Petition, Summons (usually filled together with your attorney
The above list is a good starting point. Depending on your personal circumstances, your divorce attorney will further advise you on the type of documents and other evidence you may need to bring if the matters become heated.
Consider Other Specialists Too
Separating assets is never easy. Thus, it’s always worth meeting with financial professionals as part of your divorce preparations. A qualified accountant or financial planner can help you assess the economic impact of your divorce and develop a new strategy for moving further. Undergoing marriage counseling and/or therapy can be beneficial for your physical and emotional well-being as well. If you have kids, speaking with a child therapist may be necessary too if you want to reduce the emotional toll of divorce on your children.
Take Care of Your Money
The cost of divorce in Colorado can vary significantly. The ballpark rate is $14,500 on average. However, this number can go higher for complicated divorces requiring litigation. So it's essential to start saving money in advance.
Many divorcing couples, however, have shared bank accounts. If that's your case, do open a separate account as soon as you decide to seek a divorce and start putting some income aside so that your spouse cannot access it.
Finally, move on to organizing other aspects of your life and making decisions regarding shared property, assets, and liabilities. Having a trustworthy divorce attorney at this point can be highly beneficial, as they would help you streamline the divorce preparation process and shift focus towards the new future on the other side of the process.