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Colorado Springs Family Law Blog

5 divorce mediation questions to answer

Even though divorce mediation may not sound like something that will work for you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse, there are many benefits that should have you second guessing yourself.

With divorce mediation, a family law mediator acts as a neutral party to help you and your spouse resolve the issues associated with your divorce. Their responsibilities include but are not limited to facilitating communication, asking questions to clear the air, identifying alternatives for solving disputes and describing how a judge may interpret specific issues.

When do child support obligations end?

You may always be a parent to your child, but your legal obligation to provide support for your child will end. Colorado law calls for child support to continue until the child turns 19, or 21 if the child is still in high school. There are exceptions for cases where the child has a serious physical or mental disability.

People sometimes talk about child support as though one person is giving money to an ex, but the law doesn't really look at it that way. Rather, Colorado law looks at child support as a legal obligation both parents have to provide for their child. This obligation is meant to pay for basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter, as well as medical care, education costs, child care, extracurricular activities, travel and entertainment.

Legal help for same-sex adoption

Same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in Colorado for almost five years, and nationwide since 2015, and in many ways married same-sex couples are fully integrated into all systems of family law. However, there is one area where same-sex couples face very different legal issues than most of their heterosexual friends: adoption.

According to research from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, about 20% of same-sex couples are raising adopted children, compared to just 3% of heterosexual couples. Researchers found 2.9% of same-sex couples were raising foster children, compared to just 0.4% of heterosexual couples.

What happens to inherited money in a divorce?

The process of dividing property is the most time-consuming and technically demanding part of many divorces. The two spouses must agree on how to split up their marital property under Colorado law.

Colorado calls for "equitable distribution" of marital property in divorce. Generally, this means the marital property must be divided in a way that is fair, and does not leave one spouse at a distinct financial disadvantage. But before the spouses can get to that point, they must divide their separate property from their marital property.

Grandparents have visitation rights

Both parents have rights and responsibilities toward their children after a divorce. Colorado courts generally order parents to share physical custody, but even when a child lives with one parent most of the time, the other parent almost always has rights to visit their child. Visitation is considered a fundamental right for parents, and good for the child, and a court will rarely interfere with it unless the parent has been abusive.

Colorado, like every other state, also recognizes a visitation right for grandparents, but grandparents' rights are less clear than parental rights.

Child custody and relocation

Divorced parents often put a lot of work into negotiating a child custody arrangement and parenting plan. Once they have a child custody order in place, they have a framework in which to manage issues like visitation, drop-offs and pickups, coordinating schedules and communication about education and health care, not to mention child support.

However, a lot can change after a child custody order is in place. From time to time, parents may need to renegotiate their plan and sometimes may need a new child custody order. Parental relocation is one type of life change that can require negotiation and talking with the court.

No, your ex can't waive your obligation to pay child support

It takes a lot of time and money to raise a child, and that fact does not change when you and your ex get divorced. In fact, it arguably costs your family more to support the children after a divorce, since they will have two of many of their possessions, including beds and other necessities, and you and your ex will each need to maintain a home with space for them.

Despite the fact that people know how expensive it is to care for children, a lot of parents facing divorce seem to think that child support is something that benefits their ex instead of their kids. As a result, some people try to put pressure on their former spouse to waive the obligation to pay child support.

What do I do if I can't get my spouse to agree to a divorce?

Colorado has a no-fault divorce law, which means that a person seeking a divorce does not have to prove that their spouse did anything wrong. As long as they meet the residence requirements, and both parties agree that the marriage is "irretrievably broken," the court will almost always grant the request to legally dissolve the marriage.

However, in some cases it can be hard to get the spouses to agree to end the marriage. Sometimes one party has a sincere objection to the divorce. Other times, one spouse is just stubbornly refusing to do what the other one wants. Sometimes, one spouse is hard to track down. And sometimes, in cases involving domestic violence, one spouse is reasonably frightened of meeting with the other to discuss ending the marriage.

Skilled in litigation and alternative dispute resolution

When you're going through divorce, it's natural to feel angry or resentful toward your ex. A divorce can intensify these feelings. In court, each party argues over every detail and tries to convince a court that it is right and the other side is wrong. Even when the two sides negotiate a settlement out of court, each side has incentives to fight harder for every issue.

This dynamic can lead to some really unpleasant and unhealthy scenes, especially when the couple has young children. Many parents try to shelter their children from the worst of it, but kids can pick up on the ugliness of a divorce. Those feelings can linger, and can harm the children's relationships with both parents. And of course, lingering bitterness and resentments can harm the parents' ability to work with each other in the future on child custody, visitation, child support and the day-to-day aspects of parenting.

LGBT community still faces hurdles in divorce

Amid the celebrations for last month's annual Pride festival, there was a lot of disagreement over the status of the gay rights movement in Colorado and nationwide.

While Pride celebrations in Denver and elsewhere were large and mostly joyous occasions, there were arguments within the community. Demonstrators disrupted a Pride parade in San Francisco, arguing against the event's turn from protest to corporate-sponsored party. Meanwhile, a controversial essay in The Atlantic argued that widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage means the struggle for gay rights is largely over.

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