How does "equitable distribution" work in Colorado divorce courts?
If you are getting divorced in the state of Colorado, you have probably heard the term "equitable distribution". Many couples misinterpret this term to mean a 50-50 split of all marital assets, but equitable doesn't mean equal. A Colorado Springs family law attorney can help you better understand the law and make sure you get your fair share in a property settlement.
Looking at the financial situation you are in at the time of separation will help you determine how your property and assets should be divided. Here are some of the key points an attorney will want to review:
What is the value of any separate property that you or your spouse own? Separate property includes anything that was acquired by you before the marriage, such as a house, car, or trust fund.
• Has one of you done all or most of the work required attaining your marital property?
• Can either spouse prove that the other one has intentionally dissipated or wasted any of the marital property?
• Does one of you have substantially greater earning power?
• How long have you been married, and what was your approximate net worth before the marriage?
• Which one of you bears the greater share of responsibility for child-rearing?
• Have you or your spouse been accused of domestic violence or infidelity?
Even though the answers to some of these questions may have little impact on your property settlement, each factor may be weighed subjectively in a courtroom or during mediation.
Because "equitable" is more about fairness than equality, you may be entitled to a greater share of the marital assets than you originally anticipated. An experienced family law attorney will be able to use his or her experience and knowledge of Colorado family law to ensure you come to a fair settlement.
Is it a good idea to seek spousal support through a mediated settlement?
Going to court to seek spousal support in divorce can be a risky proposition in Colorado. In many cases, plaintiffs are unaware of the laws concerning support, and they find out too late that the law is not working in their favor. That's why most Colorado family lawyers recommend seeking a mediated settlement before jumping into a courtroom.
Just like child support, Colorado spousal support guidelines are governed by a standard formula, which uses percentages and other calculations that may not address your unique situation.
However, when you enter mediation, the mediator is not required to follow the State's formula for spousal maintenance. In fact, if you and your spouse come to an agreement, you can work out any support arrangement that meets the needs of your family.
For example, if you need to stay home and care for a disabled child, and will not be able to return to the workforce full-time, you may find that Colorado's spousal maintenance formulas will not be flexible enough to get you the support you need. Or if you are providing support, and your income fluctuates throughout the year, you may not be able to provide the consistent support required by the state. In both cases, you and your ex-spouse can negotiate a spousal maintenance agreement that works for all parties concerned.
Before entering mediation, speak with an experienced family lawyer with experience in spousal maintenance cases. Your attorney can be present during mediation to ensure your interests are well represented.
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