Filing for divorce can be an incredibly difficult and emotionally draining process. Most people who get married never expect to have to know how to best prepare for a divorce, and many people feel blindsided by how complex the process can be. If you and your spouse have made a firm decision to end your marriage, it can be helpful to know what steps to take first. This article will outline 5 important steps to consider taking before initiating the legal process of ending your marriage.
#1. Start Dealing with Your Grief
Acknowledging that a marriage has ended is never easy, but it’s a necessary step toward healing and moving forward with your life. However, the grief that you will likely experience in the wake of this acknowledgement can be overwhelming. It is important to remember that your feelings – sadness, anger, resentment, betrayal, disappointment, weariness – are all normal. Allow yourself the time, space, and resources to work through your grief. This may mean sharing with trusted friends, journaling, or even taking walks in nature to process the emotions you are feeling. In time, the intensity of your feelings will abate.
Reaching out to family members, close friends, or support groups of people who have gone through similar experiences can provide much needed comfort and understanding during this difficult time. Having someone to talk with who has been through a similar situation can give individuals insight into how they may go about handling their own circumstances while also providing them with an opportunity to express any feelings of fear or uncertainty associated with the process.
Engaging in counseling or therapy can also be beneficial for those struggling to cope with the finality and transitions of divorce. Talking through feelings with a qualified professional can help individuals find peace and gain insight into how they can best take care of themselves during this time of change. Having access to resources that offer support is critical for navigating through such an emotionally charged experience.
#2. Understand the Divorce Process
Before filing for divorce in Colorado, it is important to understand the legal process and what will be required of you. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you are not required to prove fault in order to be granted a divorce. You need only claim that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
Additionally, couples can choose whether they would like their case heard by a judge or if they would prefer an uncontested hearing outside of court via mediator or arbitrator. It should also be noted that there are residency requirements when filing for divorce in Colorado; at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days prior to submitting paperwork. After filing for divorce, you will have to wait at least an additional 90 days before the judge will grant your divorce.
How your divorce proceeds will depend on the specific circumstances of your marriage. For instance, if you have children, own property, or have disparate incomes, your divorce may be more complicated than if you have very few assets, no children, and make about the same income as your spouse. The division of assets and debts acquired during marriage can be a complex process depending on individual circumstances such as prenuptial agreements, length of marriage, and marital assets.
When filing for divorce in Colorado, couples should become familiar with what equitable distribution means and how the court uses that principle to divide marital assets and debts. In equitable distribution states, property is divided according to what the court deems to be fair. This may not necessarily mean that your shared marital property will be divided equally between you. However, it is still possible – and in most instances, preferable – for you and your spouse to come to a fair agreement without the intervention of the court. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you negotiate an agreement with your spouse that protects your interests while remaining fair to both parties.
#3. Gather Important Documents
Before filing for divorce in Colorado, it is important to gather and organize your important financial and legal documents. By collecting all relevant documents before initiating the filing process, you and your attorney will have an accurate account of you and your spouse’s finances and assets when negotiating a settlement agreement or making decisions about how to divide your marital property.
Documents that may be useful or relevant can include:
- Bank statements
- Tax returns
- Pay stubs
- Proof of ownership (such as titles or deeds)
- Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
- 401k or IRA records
- Investment accounts
- Credit card statements
- Mortgage statements
#4. Prepare Financially
Divorce can be a costly process, and it is important to prepare financially before initiating the legal process. It is beneficial for couples to understand their financial situation prior to filing for divorce to create an accurate budget and plan for their post-divorce life.
If you are facing a divorce, it’s important that you begin to create a budget for your post-divorce life that you and your attorney can use as a starting point to discuss what you will need to support yourself during your post-divorce life. This can help your attorney know how to strategize around the financial negotiations for your divorce settlement.
In order to do so, you will need to have a working knowledge of you and your spouse’s monthly incomes and expenses now. This will help you be more accurate as you create projections for your future post-divorce life.
#5. Seek Out Legal Support
Filing for divorce can be a stressful and emotional experience, but it doesn't have to be done alone. Consulting an experienced divorce attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process and that you and your family land on your feet after the divorce is over. At Clawson and Clawson, LLP, our knowledgeable family law attorneys know how difficult and disorienting this process can be, and we are committed to providing each of our clients with the personalized service they need to get through their divorce and move toward a brighter future.
Contact us online today or call us at (719) 602-5888 to schedule your free consultation!