Denver Family Law

Family Law

Brighton Child Custody Attorney

Family Law & Divorce Attorney

At Tolison & Williams, Attorneys at Law, LLC, we understand that families come first.  We understand the stress, anxiety and fear that accompany the separation of a family. That's why we do what we do.

As a team of Brighton area family law lawyers, we deal with people that want to get a divorce. However, there are many different kinds of divorce. 

 

Divorce in Colorado

Divorce has to deal with the dissolution of marriage. For some people, getting a divorce can be one of the saddest events a family can experience. However, for others, it can be a liberating experience to get out of a failing or abusive marriage.

It can generate great grief, anger, depression, or anxiety. It also marks a new beginning for both parties and the chance to go forward peacefully with renewed energy.

As with most family law firms, a majority of our cases are related to divorce. Learn how our attorneys help clients that need a divorce.


Contested & Uncontested Divorce

In a contested divorce, one party files a petition with the court and the other party is expected to respond. This is common when spouses cannot agree on terms of the divorce (like child custody, property division, and other terms), and spouses will need attorneys to help them resolve this dispute. Learn more about contested divorces.

In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce. This type of divorce is more streamlined than other types, but it still is best for spouses to consult with an attorney in this process. Get more information on uncontested divorces.


Common Law Divorce

 Colorado is one of 16 states in the USA that observes common law marriage. You are married by common law if you have done one of the following:

  • Both parties share a last name.
  • You exchanged rings in a public ceremony.
  • Your family and social circles have heard you refer to each other as husband and wife.
  • You each list yourselves as married on public documents.
  • The couple shares property ownership.
  • The couple files joint tax returns and/or has a joint checking account. (This information alone, however, is not enough to constitute a common law marriage*)

This form of marriage looks, acts and smells like a traditional marriage — the only thing missing is the marriage license administered by the state. Your lawyer should be able to help you decipher these rules. Learn more about common law marriage in Colorado.


Collaborative Divorce

 Similar to an uncontested divorce, a collaborative divorce is when spouses hire attorneys to get divorced without needing to go to court. 

Attorneys trained in the collaborative law process are able to craft a custom solution to all the issues associated during the end of a marriage. This is often much simpler than having a judge determine how the marriage will be ended. 

Throughout the collaborative law process, all parties agree to come to resolutions without involving courts. This saves both time and money from avoiding litigation. The benefits of this process are numerous:

  • Avoiding the lengthy and costly divorce litigation process
  • Saving your children from courtroom battles
  • Minimizing conflict present and future conflict

 Learn more about collaborative law and how it might be the best option for your marriage.

 

No-Fault Divorce

A no-fault divorce in Colorado allows a spouse to file for divorce without needing to prove that the other spouse was at fault for the divorce. Rather, the spouse needs to provide a reason for the marriage to end.

This means that marriages can be dissolved when one spouse believes they have "irreconcilable differences" or "irreparable breakdown of the marriage." As such, if one spouse requests to get a no-fault divorce, the other spouse cannot prevent the divorce from happening without going to court.

The attorneys at Tolison & Williams have a strong understanding of Colorado's family law system, and are prepared to guide you through a no-fault divorce. Click here for more information about no-fault divorces.

 

Divorce & Short-Term Marriages

Couples who have been married for only a small amount of time can get divorced in a few different ways depending on the circumstances. 

The overall process of getting divorced after a short-term marriage is similar to traditional divorce, but it is less likely that spousal maintenance or alimony will be awarded to either spouse. Property division usually entails more non-marital assets, because spouses haven't had time to accumulate assets together. Learn more about divorce and short-term marriages here.

 

Divorce & Bankruptcy

In today's tough economy, it's no surprise that divorcing couples often have extreme debt matters to handle as well. This can include extensive credit card debt, mortgages, student loans and car payments. In many cases, if you have a great deal of debt, it is in your best interest to file bankruptcy — either individually or as a couple — before proceeding with a divorce. An experienced divorce lawyer can advise you of your best options.

Our attorneys represent clients in a wide range of divorce matters. In situations of extreme debt,  we have the ability to fully analyze the financial information of divorcing couples to determine if bankruptcy may be an option for you. If it is, we can work with your bankruptcy attorney to complete the process, advising on the implications the bankruptcy may have on your divorce.

Understand Your Legal Rights 

When considering both a divorce and bankruptcy in Colorado, it is important to be aware of your rights. Through bankruptcy, you can have much of your marital debt wiped clean — allowing for a fresh start for both parties after the divorce. Filing for bankruptcy also will put an automatic stay on the divorce process, as well as freezing any foreclosures, repossessions, garnishments or other legal action against you.

The first step is to meet with our attorneys to discuss your situation, address your questions and concerns, and understand your options. 

 

Divorce & Debt

In today's economy, many couples struggle to make ends meet. They have extensive credit card debt, mortgages, student loans and car payments. Division of debt becomes one of the central issues in their divorce, and it takes an experienced attorney to protect their interests so that they are not forced to pay more than their share.

When we represent you in a divorce, we can talk with you extensively about your financial obligations. We often partner with clients to make divorce more cost-effective, employing strategies that save time, money and stress.

How Do We Get Started?

One of the first questions we are asked is whether marital funds may be used to pay our team's retainer. The answer is "yes." You can use funds from a joint account to hire your divorce attorney. And if you have a marital credit card, Colorado law allows you to access funds to hire representation.

If you do not understand the full scope of your assets and debts, don't worry — that is OK. Many people leave marriages with little knowledge of their true financial circumstances because a spouse has traditionally handled financial matters.

We can often obtain that information during the divorce through a formal legal process known as "discovery." The other side may be required to disclose the information under Colorado law.

Still, the more information you can give us, the better we will be able to represent you. We recommend looking into your finances and writing down important bank account numbers early in the divorce process. When divorces become contentious, that information often becomes hard to access.

If you enter into your divorce with a great deal of debt, it is important to keep up payments while divorcing so that you do not limit your options down the road. Be sure to keep an open mind as your financial situation changes. You may want to explore other remedies to help you live debt-free. We can discuss your options in a confidential consultation.

 

Divorce & Foreclosures

When seeking a divorce, business owners, doctors, farm and landowners and other high-income/high-asset individuals face additional complexities. Although they still have to deal with property division, custody and support matters, these can be elevated to a much higher degree when more assets are involved. In these circumstances, it is in your best interests to hire an experienced family law attorney.

Through the Tolison & Williams firm, we assist clients with a broad range of legal concerns, including high-asset divorce. We are prepared to handle every aspect of your business and asset valuation, working with certified public accountants (CPAs) and other experts to determine the value of both marital and non-marital assets. It is our goal to help you achieve the best possible outcome to your situation.

Adams County Farm Divorce Lawyer

Divorces involving farmland also can cause potential complications. Issues can include a substantial number of assets, debts related to equipment and inherited property that may not be subject to division.

As an experienced Brighton high-asset divorce lawyer, we are able to handle all aspects of your farm valuation. In addition, we can help with all other assets and debts, as well as advise on every aspect of the divorce, including custody and support.

 

High-Asset Divorce

With the difficult housing market, it is not uncommon for divorcing couples to be facing foreclosure of their shared home. Although creditors may only base their collection actions on the person listed on the mortgage, the divorce courts will view the debt as a joint responsibility. In these situations, it may be possible to settle the foreclosure before divorce proceedings begin, eliminating the need to include it in debt division matters. An experienced divorce lawyer can advise you of your options.

Our team has the knowledge and skills to assist clients with even the most complex divorce concerns, including foreclosure issues. We can thoroughly analyze your situation to provide an honest assessment of your options. Depending on your circumstances, we may be able to use tactics that will stop your foreclosure.

Know Your Options In Adams County

When dealing with a divorce and foreclosure in Colorado, it is important for all involved parties to understand the options available. A foreclosure can have intense ramifications on both parties after a divorce. Several strategies can be used to eliminate the foreclosure complications from your divorce. These include short sales, loan modifications, and bankruptcy. We will work with you to find the best possible solution and guide you through the legal process at every step, from initial consultation to the finalization of your divorce.

 

Frequently Asked Questions on Divorce

There are a lot of unanswered questions about divorce. We've answered some of the most common ones below:

Do I need an attorney to get divorced?

Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, which means that an attorney is not required. It's important to understand that the outcome of your divorce might be affected if you decide not to seek the services of an attorney. 

Some people think that they can split amicably with their spouse without a lawyer, but it's not uncommon for issues to arise that can create deep rifts and cause lasting emotional and financial damage.

How long will the divorce take?

Clients of my Adams County-based firm, Tolison & Williams, Attorneys at Law, LLC, often ask "How long will the divorce take in Colorado?" Below is the typical process for a divorce:

  • File your petition as either contested or uncontested.
  • After the initial filing, the parties work on financial disclosures. This is the opportunity for each party and his or her lawyer to understand what the marital estate entails and make the best possible decisions. The goal is to have a set of financial documents with nothing omitted — including student loans, credit card debts, value of cars and other property.
  • In approximately 40 days, a status conference is held in the jurisdiction where the motion is filed. If the divorce is contested, it will be placed on the court docket. The divorce will be not be completed any sooner than 92 days from the filing date.
  • After the initial status conference, temporary orders may be set for payment of debts, child support, custody and other matters while the divorce is pending.
  • Additionally, this is the time when parties attempt to settle the divorce through alternative dispute resolution, mediation and settlement conferences. If this is not possible, both parties prepare for trial.

How to make divorce faster and less expensive?

Divorce has a reputation for being stressful, but there are things you can do to limit the loss of time and money and to limit the stress that divorce can bring. At our Brighton-area law firm — Tolison & Williams, Attorneys at Law, LLC — we often share with my clients a series of tips for making divorce faster and less expensive.

  • Decide what matters - If your spouse is amicable and you are reasonably able to discuss the issues you are facing, try to sit down and have a conversation about what's important. What would it look like if you were both content with your lives post-divorce? Knowing what you're aiming for makes it easier to make overall decisions about your divorce.
  • Agree to uphold parenting ideals - If you have kids, talk about your beliefs regarding raising kids in two households. What goals do you have for your children in the divorce process? What things do you agree on as parents? When parents can agree not to take actions that hurt their children — like telling them about the other parent's shortcomings and bad behavior — they can both avoid those behaviors. The result is a divorce that's less stressful for the children.
  • Try Mediation - This approach can save money, too. Even if parents are not able to come to an agreement regarding child custody and parenting responsibility, they may be willing to mediate those issues. Mediation is generally considered to be less expensive than litigation. In mediation, you and your attorney will work with a certified mediator who can assist you and your spouse in coming to an agreement. The best attorneys are able to assume both roles as a mediator and an attorney.
  • Keep reasonable expectations - The most important tip we can give is to have reasonable expectations about your divorce. Talk with your lawyer about your situation, get a clear picture of your assets and understand how the court may view your relationship with your children. The best way to achieve an inexpensive and quick divorce is to be realistic about the end of your marriage so that you can begin investing in your future.

What are common divorce mistakes?

There are a lot of mistakes that people can make when getting a divorce. We've listed out the top 10 mistakes below:

  1. Hiding money —This is one of the worst mistakes a person can make in a divorce. When you deliberately hide money from your spouse, you run the risk of the court finding out. If your actions are discovered, the judge may side with your spouse and award him or her the larger share of your property — exactly the opposite of what you hoped to accomplish.
  2. Lying to your lawyer —Lying to your lawyer can only work against you because when issues come up in your divorce, your lawyer will not be prepared to properly represent you. Lost your temper? Went out for a wild night? Did something you regret? It may feel painful now, but it's best to fess up. Remember that your relationship with your lawyer is protected by the attorney-client privilege so that anything you say to her is confidential. Your lawyer won't tell on you, but she will use the information you provide to represent you to the fullest.
  3. Saying bad things about the other parent in front of your kids — Judges don't hesitate to take action against parents who alienate their children from the other parent. Like hiding assets, this plan can backfire. Judges may punish you for your bad behavior by ordering less parenting time or awarding child custody to the other parent.
  4. Not having realistic expectations about your assets and debts — Sometimes people expect to earn money in a divorce. The truth is that things rarely work this way. Expecting your divorce to be a get-rich-quick scheme can lead to disappointment. In a divorce, the assets that formerly supported one household must now be divided to support two, so spouses' standards of living often decrease — not increase.
  5. Fighting just to fight —Many people get so caught up in their divorces that they spend thousands of dollars fighting over the lawn gnome or Aunt Hilda's favorite casserole dish. Only after things calm down do they realize that they've wasted valuable resources on something that didn't matter in the long run. When a divorce becomes contentious, turn to your lawyer to help you keep a level head. 
  6. Being sneaky — Spouses are often driven to desperate measures in a divorce. They steal computer passwords and break into their spouse's email accounts. They secretly record their spouses or install computer-monitoring software. These approaches can come back to haunt you — especially when kids are involved. During a divorce, it's best not to do anything you wouldn't want the judge to know about.
  7. Emptying your bank accounts — Your divorce may seem like a good time to go on a spending spree. But the judge will probably learn about your latest shopping trips, exotic vacations or the rounds of drinks you bought the entire bar. It's best to be wise, frugal and respectful with your money during a divorce. Save celebration for later, after the matter is finalized.
  8. Facebook misbehavior —It may be tempting to send out an angry tweet, slam your spouse on Facebook or post explicit details about your latest wild adventures, but holding back is a good idea. More and more, social media is being used as evidence in Colorado courtrooms. Your conduct is relevant to the outcome of your divorce, so put your best foot forward.
  9. Reassigning your stuff — In the time just before your divorce or during the divorce process, don't dispose of marital property by selling stuff or giving it to family members. In Colorado, as soon as you begin the divorce process, you cannot dispose of marital assets. Courts may trace assets disposed of just before the divorce if they suspect that something isn't right.
  10. Not seeing a lawyer to make sure that agreements are enforceable and realistic — You may think that you can handle your divorce on your own. You may be right, but the best way to protect your interests is to meet with a lawyer — at least for an hour or two — to review your divorce plans. You may be overlooking important factors or failing to take opportunities. When it comes to your divorce, time with an experienced attorney is well worth it.

Contact A Brighton Divorce Lawyer Today

For more information, call 800-331-0745 or fill out the form below. 

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