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Colorado Springs Family Law Blog

What child custody options are there after a divorce?

As many Colorado residents can attest to, life after divorce is drastically different from that before it. For divorcing couples with children, it can be even more altered, as parents go from seeing their children daily to seeing them based on a pre-determined schedule. While it may take time to adjust to this new reality, it is important to know that child custody can take different forms depending on the agreement the parents make, based on their individual circumstances. Familiarizing oneself with the terms commonly used during custody proceedings can be very helpful.

The most commonly understood form of custody is physical custody. This means the parent who has been granted physical custody has the child live with them. Sole physical custody refers to an award where the child lives primarily with one parent and the other parent is given visitation rights. Joint physical custody can also be awarded where the parents live relatively close to one another. This means the child spends significant portions of his or her time with both parents.

Handling division of assets with a marital home in a divorce

Division of assets is a common concern when couples in Colorado decide to end their marriage. One of the biggest and most valuable properties a couple has is the marital home. People can engage in endless disputes over the property not just due to the financial ramifications, but also due to emotional considerations as the parties might have raised children and lived at the residence for an extended period.

There are alternatives for the couple to consider when it comes to the family home. For many couples, one option is to sell the property and split the proceeds. This is contingent on several factors including the amount of equity in the home and if the parties are on solid enough terms to sell it without rancor or making the dispute worse. Taxes should be factored in as many people do not want to pay capital gains. Also, it is wise to think about the cost of a new home or if renting is preferable.

How a separation agreement address maintenance and property

When Colorado couples decide that they are set to part ways and move forward with a separation or divorce, a common strategy to avoid rancor and dispute is to have a separation agreement. This can be useful in several ways and those who are contemplating divorce or have already made the decision should consider it for the good of everyone involved. If the couple is relatively amicable, it is wise to negotiate to avoid an extended case. Understanding the law is essential when thinking about a separation agreement.

The goal is to provide for the maintenance of either party and to determine who gets the various properties from the marriage. The separation agreement can also address parenting responsibilities, support issues and parenting time, but these issues cannot be binding while maintenance and property division can be binding. It cannot be binding if the court finds that the economic situation or any other factor makes the agreement unfair to either party. This is also known as an unconscionable agreement.

Does being behind on child support impact a tax refund?

Being behind on paying child support in Colorado is a difficult issue for the parents and the child. The receiving parent will generally need the payments to make ends meet and provide proper care for the child. The paying parent will face various sanctions should he or she fail to live up to the obligation to pay child support on time and in full. There are sometimes unavoidable challenges in life that make it difficult for the paying parent to keep current.

Regardless, the payments must be made. If there is no other alternative, the state will initiate various strategies to get the payments. With tax time approaching and many set to receive a refund, it is important to understand when a tax refund offset can take place. With the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program, tax refunds will be collected to pay for past due child support payments. There are several agencies that take part in this collection effort including Child Support Services, the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, and the Internal Revenue Service.

The children are always the primary concern in custody cases

Misinformation about divorce and child custody proceedings is everywhere. These myths spread through the media and stories told by those who exaggerate their own experiences. Quite a few people still believe common divorce myths, such as the idea that women will always have the benefit in custody proceedings.

In reality, Colorado law is gender-neutral. More importantly, the courts don't give preferential treatment to either parent. Instead, the focus of the courts in any custody deliberations must always be the best interest of the children involved.

What happens to public employee retirement benefits in a divorce?

Division of assets is a common source of dispute in a Colorado divorce. While some aspects are part of the marital property such as a home, a motor vehicle, bank accounts, a business and gifts that were given to the parties as a couple, there is often dispute over how a retirement plan will be split. If there is a public employee retirement plan, however, there are certain factors that must be considered. Often, the parties will have a written agreement as to how this benefit will be split. For those who have such an agreement or are considering one, having legal advice is essential as the dissolution moves forward.

In the written agreement to divide this retirement benefit, the person who has the retirement plan's name must be specified as must all their vital information like a social security number, mailing address, alternate payee and that person's relationship with the individual. When there is an agreement as to the benefit plan, the distribution method must be specified. With a defined contribution plan, the alternate payee's portion in a lump sum or fixed percentage must be listed.

Does spousal maintenance require security in Colorado?

There are many considerations that will be part of a Colorado divorce. When there is an order for one spouse to pay alimony - also referred to as spousal maintenance - to the other, it must be paid in full and on time. For some, there are other factors that must be accounted for so the receiving spouse get what he or she is owed. One is whether the paying spouse is required to pay security for the maintenance. For those who are ordered to pay security or a former spouse who wants the paying spouse to pay security, having legal advice is important.

The security is generally used if the court is concerned that the paying spouse might die prior to the conclusion of the maintenance term. It can include reasonable life insurance with the receiving spouse listed as the beneficiary if the paying spouse dies before the term ends. The court will consider various factors when deciding if there should be a payment of security.

How do you modify child support?

In Colorado, when there is a child custody order and a decision-making responsibility, it is important for parents to remember that these are not set in stone never to be changed. In some cases, a modification is necessary or desired. The parents must understand how and why this will be done based on the law. Not all cases will be contentious. Some are amicable. Regardless of the situation, having a grasp on what the law says and having legal assistance is critical to a case.

When there is a motion to modify custody or decision-making, it cannot be done again for two years. This is true whether the request was granted or not. This is not applicable if the court has reason to believe that the previous decree impacts the child's safety and he or she is in danger in any way. The court will not change the decree for custody or the decree allocating decision-making responsibility except in cases where the facts indicate a change in circumstances or there were facts the court did not know when the prior order was made. The modification must be needed to serve the child's best interests.

Retirement issues can be problematic in a gray divorce

Coloradans who are older and decide that their marriage is no longer working and they would like to move on have a multitude of concerns. While younger people will likely face custody, support and other issues related to children, a so-called "gray divorce" will have different factors to consider such as division of assets and retirement accounts. For people who are older, it is important to know what must be a priority with a gray divorce.

In the past 25 years, the divorce rate for those 50 and older has risen by more than 100 percent. Regardless of the reason - a lack of satisfaction, children having grown up and moved away, finances - changes to society have made it more acceptable and viable for older people to move on. There are key factors that they should consider and these are unique to their situation. That includes assets, the costs of a new residence and living alone.

A prenuptial agreement can protect you in the event of a divorce

When you fall in love, you don't spend much time (if any) thinking about the possibility of divorce in the future. However, since this is a possibility, it never hurts to take steps to protect yourself in the event of a divorce.

There are many benefits of creating a prenuptial agreement, including but not limited to:

  • The opportunity to protect inheritance rights of children from a previous marriage
  • Protection of any assets you bring into the marriage
  • Protection against debt that the other individual brings into the marriage

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Mary Kay Kramer, P.C.
1820 West Colorado Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80904

Phone: 719-362-5113
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