_____Mr. Levin offers representation in Family Law matters, including:
Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements
Parental Responsibility (formerly called "custody")
Maintenance (formerly called "alimony")
Legal Fees in divorce
Family Law FAQs
1. What is a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement?
Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements are contracts that substitute terms negotiated by the parties for some or all of the rights and duties that arise by operation of law as a result of the marriage relationship, including those rights and duties applicable when the marriage ends via divorce or the death of one of the parties. Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements are most often used in reference to monetary assets of one or both of the parties to the marriage. By statute, agreements entered into between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage or between present spouses are enforceable if signed by both parties prior to the filing of an action for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation.
2. How fast can a divorce occur?
Before granting a decree of dissolution of marriage the court must find that ninety days or more have elapsed since it acquired jurisdiction over both of the parties.
3. How does the court decide how to divide the property of the parties in a divorce case?
In a divorce case, the court, subject to certain exceptions, sets apart to each spouse his or her property and divides the "marital property," without regard to marital misconduct, in such proportions as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors including:
a. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
b. The value of the property set apart to each spouse;
c. The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse with whom any children reside the majority of the time; and
d. Any increases or decreases in the value of the separate property of the spouse during the marriage or the depletion of the separate property for marital purposes.
"Marital property" means all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage except:
a. Property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent;
b. Property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent;
c. Property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation; and
d. Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties.
All property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage and prior to a decree of legal separation is presumed to be marital property, regardless of whether title is held individually or by the spouses in some form of co-ownership such as joint tenancy, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety, and community property.
Subject to certain limitations, an asset of a spouse acquired prior to the marriage or through inheritance shall be considered as marital property for purposes of the divorce case, to the extent that its present value exceeds its value at the time of the marriage or at the time of acquisition if acquired after the marriage.
4. When is maintenance (formerly known as alimony) appropriate?
There is no absolute entitlement to spousal maintenance in Colorado. The issue of maintenance is addressed after the court has made its decision with respect to property distribution. The court first has to determine if one or the other spouses is entitled to maintenance. If so, the court then determines the amount and duration of the maintenance. The court is statutorily required to determine whether the spouse seeking maintenance:
1. Lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to him or her, to provide for his or her reasonable needs; and
2. Is unable to support him or herself through appropriate employment or is a custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home.
When maintenance will be awarded, the court then determines the amount and length of time for the award, which statutorily requires consideration of all "relevant factors," including:
1. The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including the marital property apportioned to him or her, and his or her ability to meet his or her own needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the spouse seeking maintenance includes a sum for that party as custodial parent;
2. The time necessary for the party seeking maintenance to acquire sufficient education or training so that he or she can find appropriate employment, as well as that spouse's future earning capacity;
3. The standard of living established during the marriage;
4. The duration of the parties' marriage;
5. The age and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
6. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse who is seeking maintenance.
7. How does the court decide issues of allocation of decision making authority as to children of the marriage, and parenting time?
By statute the Colorado Legislature has found that it is in the best interest of all parties to encourage frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the minor children of the marriage after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage. Parents are urged to share the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing and to encourage the love, affection, and contact between the children and the parents.
The court shall determine the allocation of parental responsibilities, including parenting time and decision-making responsibilities, in accordance with the best interests of the child giving paramount consideration to the physical, mental, and emotional conditions and needs of the child as follows:
a. Determination of parenting time. The court, upon the motion of either party or upon its own motion, may make provisions for parenting time that the court finds are in the child's best interests unless the court finds, after a hearing, that parenting time by the party would endanger the child's physical health or significantly impair the child's emotional development. In determining the best interests of the child for purposes of parenting time, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:
I. The wishes of the child's parents as to parenting time;
II. The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
III. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;
IV. The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
V. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
VI. The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party;
VII. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
VIII. The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;
IX. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence;
X. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence;
XI. The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
b. Allocation of decision-making responsibility. The court, upon the motion of either party or its own motion, shall allocate the decision-making responsibilities between the parties based upon the best interests of the child. In determining decision-making responsibility, the court may allocate the decision-making responsibility with respect to each issue affecting the child mutually between both parties or individually to one or the other party or any combination thereof. In determining the best interests of the child for purposes of allocating decision-making responsibilities, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:
I. Credible evidence of the ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly;
II. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support that would indicate an ability as mutual decision makers to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child;
III. Whether an allocation of mutual decision-making responsibility on any one or a number of issues will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parties;
IV. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence. If the court makes a finding of fact that one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect, then it shall not be in the best interests of the child to allocate mutual decision-making with respect to any issue over the objection of the other party or the legal representative of the child.
V. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence. If the court makes a finding of fact that one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse, then it shall not be in the best interests of the child to allocate mutual decision-making responsibility over the objection of the other party or the legal representative of the child, unless the court finds that the parties are able to make shared decisions about their children without physical confrontation and in a place and manner that is not a danger to the abused party or the child.
_Contact a dedicated Edwards family law attorney
To schedule an appointment with family law attorney Burton H. Levin, call 970-926-3695 or contact the firm online.
__The Law Office of Burton H. Levin
34215 U.S. Hwy. 6, Suite 205
P.O. Box 782
Edwards, Colorado 81632 Phone: 970-926-3695 Fax: 970-926-3845
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