It’s a Painful Decision That Requires a Lot of Thought

Deciding to divorce can be a very tough, and many times, painful decision. It means a complete change to your current lifestyle, including your housing, finances, and most significantly, changes with regard to many of your most important relationships, especially if children are involved. It is normal to feel confused and ambivalent about divorcing and it is not a decision that should be made impulsively or without a lot of thought. Often, a couple will make a diligent effort to try therapy to see if they can resolve their problems and will work hard at saving their marriage. This can sometimes be successful, or it may further confirm that the marriage is over.

The list is lengthy, but some of the issues leading to divorce include infidelity, betrayal, neglect, an erosion of trust and respect, lack of financial or emotional support, diminished involvement in the relationship, abusive or coercive behavior, addictions, untreated mental or emotional issues, escalating and unresolved arguments, end of intimacy, or lack of shared goals. It could be that the partners have simply grown apart and have nothing in common anymore. If any of these issues resonate with you, you probably have already considered divorce and may also have begun to imagine a new, happier future without your partner.

Being Reluctant Just Wastes Time

Even if divorce is your idea and you are the first to bring it up, there is a pretty good chance that your spouse is not that happy with the way things are going in your marriage, either. Many couples, although they may recognize that the marriage is over, will sometimes try to avoid that reality just because of the fear of what lies ahead. Reluctance to face the situation keeps couples stuck in dysfunctional relationships and wastes precious time in not allowing life to be lived to the fullest. When staying in an irreparable relationship, couples fall into bickering and fighting, ultimately creating a negative and stifling environment for themselves and those around them. By prolonging the inevitable, the only thing that is accomplished is that the relationship between the spouses is made even worse.

If you are in a situation where divorce is a real possibility, it is very important to adopt the mindset that there is nothing disgraceful about ending a marriage. Don’t look at it as a failure, or start to buy into the negative and often misguided generalizations that surround divorce and the legal aspects of the divorce process. If children are involved, realize that it is not in their best interest to live in a home where the parents are unhappy and only staying together for the “sake of the kids.”

Making the Decision with Confidence

If both spouses can separate emotions from the divorce process, both will benefit in the long run. How you go about ending your marriage is an important choice. You can choose avoidance, grief, fear, and anger, or you can approach divorce with a rational and cooperative plan. It is perfectly normal for there to be a flood of emotions, as separation and divorce is never an easy process. Don’t think of deciding to divorce as the beginning of a battle, instead try to shift the perspective, talk to your spouse about how you will work together to make the whole process as easy as possible, and see if you can agree on some common goals.

Seek the Representation of Hulse Law Firm

The attorneys of Hulse Law Firm understand that divorce is an enormous decision and not to be made impulsively or lightly. It takes a great deal of time and heartfelt consideration to arrive at that decision. Call Hulse Law Firm today to schedule a legal consultation. We are highly skilled family attorneys who understand all aspects of divorce not only from a legal perspective, but from an emotional one as well. We are here to help you work through and clarify many of the issues that you are facing, and see to it that your rights and interests are protected every step of the way.

Preparing to Meet with Your Divorce Attorney

When preparing to start your divorce action, or if you already know that you will soon be served by your spouse, it is important to gather and organize the paperwork that will be necessary. Many people hate the idea of paperwork and even try to procrastinate about it, but being pro-active will save a lot of time in the long run. You will be able to answer many of the critical questions that will help your attorney access your situation and advise you of your legal rights and responsibilities.

Documentation and Information Needed

On the first visit to your attorney be prepared with the date of marriage, birthdates and social security numbers for you and your spouse, information about previous marriages including divorce decrees, prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, and any judgments and pleadings that involved either you or your spouse.

If dependent children are involved, bring your children’s birthdates and social security numbers. Caring for your children will require financial cooperation. You will need to make decisions about parenting time, child care expenses, educational expenses, and future expenses such as college. You will also need to resolve which parent will claim the children for credit on your taxes. While things won’t necessarily be resolved immediately, start to formulate your thoughts and goals on all of these issues.

The amount of documentation and paperwork you will need depends on whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. As you can imagine, there will be a lot more paperwork required for a contested divorce than for an uncontested case. The attorneys of Hulse Law Firm will work with you so that you can access the appropriate financial information early on and make sure that key items are not overlooked. We are specifically trained to help you navigate a successful settlement and secure your future financial stability.

How are Assets and Debts Documented?

The process of determining total assets and debt is more involved. You will need to produce paperwork that includes tax returns, bank statements, loan statements, credit card statements, marital home and other real estate information, vehicle information, health and other insurance accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts. These documents should cover your long-term history, not just the most recent transactions. While it generally depends on the length of marriage, three years of data should be sufficient.

Make a list of personal property including jewelry, artwork, collections, and antiques, and also specify which financial and material assets you personally brought into the marriage as individual property. It is also a good idea to pull your credit report and make sure you know about all debt that is registered in your name.

What Will Be Required by the Court?

The summarization of a complete and accurate financial picture is a very important part of the divorce process. This disclosure of information will be put together from the paperwork and documents discussed here. The attorneys of Hulse Law Firm will ensure that the financial disclosure is done accurately, will see that your assets are safeguarded, and protect you so that you don’t miss out on your share of your spouse’s assets, investments, or accounts.

Seek the Representation of Hulse Law Firm

Being aware of the documentation needed and taking the time to prepare and organize your paperwork will save you a significant amount of time, money, and much of the unnecessary last minute stress. While we understand this is a very emotional time, it is important for you to stay focused during the entire process of divorce and know that accurate information and financial accountability is critical. As your attorneys, we will also help you create a clear picture of what it will cost to maintain your current lifestyle so that you are well-prepared to move on with your life after divorce. Call Hulse Law Firm today to set up your initial meeting!

It Starts With You

If you are in the process of divorce or separating from your partner, naturally you are concerned about how the situation will impact your children. If handled poorly, it is true that divorce can negatively affect your children. However, you have the ability to significantly reduce this impact by making a concerted effort to ensure that your children continue to feel safe, secure, and loved. How you handle yourself during your divorce will play a huge role in how the children respond, even as the family structure is changing.

Staying Together is Not Always Better

When facing divorce, couples often wonder, “Should we stay together for the kids?” Despite the fact that divorce is difficult, staying together for the sake of the children may not be a good idea after all. Studies show that children who live in homes with conflict and hostility are actually at a higher risk for developing their own mental health issues and behavioral problems. Children do better with well-adjusted parents who are respectful to each other, rather than resentful, even if it means that they no longer live in the same household. Many times parents find divorce is the healthiest option for everyone involved. Once you have resolved that in your mind, don’t continue to second guess yourself or carry unnecessary guilt.

Tips for Parents

As a team of experienced and compassionate family law attorneys, Hulse Law Firm understands the variety of highly charged issues that accompany divorce. It is not easy to control emotions and navigate through the various situations that arise. Based upon years of experience working with our clients, we have a few recommendations to help you and your children cope with divorce and the changing family dynamics.

Contact Hulse Law Firm for Family Law Representation

Whatever your questions are with regard to ensuring the welfare of your children during a divorce, put your mind at ease by contacting Hulse Law Firm. We understand every situation is unique. Each of your questions and concerns are valid and deserve to be addressed. We are here to listen and provide expert counsel on the best course of action and on your rights as a parent. Remember the importance of reassuring the children that they are loved, even though their parents may be going their separate ways. Help your children look forward to a happy, healthy and positive future. Call us today!

The Hulse Law Firm is committed to provide the service our clients have come to expect and deserve. The safety and well-being of our employees and clients is of the upmost importance. During this tough time, we will remain open for business and will continue to accept new clients. Currently, we are happy to offer 30-minute free telephone consultations. If you would like to schedule a consultations, please call us at 720-773-2900.

Marital Property Distribution Methods

In a divorce, states will use one of two methods when dividing property: the community property method or the equitable distribution method. The community property method is simple and straightforward, in that all marital property is split evenly, 50/50. States that use this method just assume your marital property was earned equally, so they divide it equally.

However, Colorado is not a community property state; instead, Colorado follows the equitable distribution method. This means that a Court will determine what is “fair and equitable,” and the division of your marital property may not be an equal 50/50 split.

When making an equitable distribution pursuant to C.R.S. §14-10-113(1), the Court will consider factors such as:

If you feel you’ve contributed more financially to the marriage, it is important you hire an experienced attorney for your Colorado divorce to help ensure you receive a fair and equitable portion of your marital property.

What exactly is property?

Colorado Courts recognize “property” to include “everything that has an exchangeable value or which goes to make up wealth or estate.” This includes income, bonuses, commissions, investment and retirement accounts, real property, vehicles, personal items, etc.

What is Marital Property and how is it different from Separate Property?

Any and all property acquired by either spouse after the marriage and before a decree of dissolution or legal separation, is presumed to be marital property, regardless of whether that property is titled in only one spouses name, or is subject to a form of co-ownership with a third party. This presumption can be over-come by showing that particular property was:

On the other hand, non-marital property, or “separate property,” is property acquired before the date of the marriage, after the decree for dissolution or legal separation has been entered, or is property subject to one of the exceptions above.

It is important to note that any appreciation in the value of separate property during the marriage is considered marital property. For example, if your $300,000 home that you brought into the marriage is worth $400,000 at the time of divorce, that $100,000 of appreciation is subject to equitable distribution because it is a marital asset.

Further, spouses need to be aware that separate property can become marital property if that non-marital asset is comingled with a marital asset to the extent that it can no longer be distinguished as separate property. For example, if you deposit pre-marital money into a marital bank account, over time that non-marital money may no longer be identified as non-marital, in which case, the funds have been comingled. 

How to Prepare for Property Division

The process of identifying, valuing, and dividing property can a hassle, especially over the course of a long marriage. It’s best advised that spouses begin the process of identifying this property early on in the dissolution process to avoid delays and expenses. If parties cannot agree on the value of certain items, such as a home or vehicle, an appraisal will be necessary.

It’s also important to not overlook personal items such as jewelry, tools, yard equipment, and other personal items of high value. For example, your spouse might have a valuable collection of purses or shoes, the value of which is going to be subject to division if those items are marital property.

Lastly, spouses should know that marital property also includes debt. If either spouse acquired debt during the marriage, the Court will be dividing that debt equitably between them.

The family law attorneys at Hulse Law Firm have years of experience assisting Colorado families navigate the divorce process and can provide you with a free consultation regarding your divorce. Call (720) 773-2900 to schedule your free consultation!

At the Hulse Law Firm, we often have cases where one of the party’s owns his or her own business.  This is a unique situation, and often requires additional experts to get involved to value the business (which are called “business evaluations”, and sometimes, to determine what the owner’s actual income is for the purposes of determining maintenance and child support. 

When a spouse owns a business, it is very difficult to determine the “value” of that business without an expert involved.  Almost every business has some sort of value to it, and the person keeping the business is keeping the value of the business, in the same way the person keeping a retirement account keeps the value of the account. 

Oftentimes, the spouse not keeping the business, will get compensated for that value by getting more of another type of asset, or by receiving a payout over time for half the value of the business.

Additionally, an expert can look at the income of party who owns the business if there are concerns that a) a business owner is claiming more deductions than he or she should, b) a business owner is running personal expenses through the business, or c) there is a concern the owner is hiding earnings. 

It is important to note that a business can often be valued at 1-3x the annual income the business produces, so it is almost always advisable to have an expert value the business if you are the spouse that will not be keeping the business in the divorce.  This is not always the case,

If you or your spouse has a business, it would make sense to schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case and to determined whether a business evaluation is needed.  Please call 720-773-2900 to schedule a consultation. For more information on the Hulse Law Firm, go to https://www.hulselawfirm.com/

 

Hulse Law Firm | Mediation

Mediation is typically less costly, both emotionally and financially, than hiring attorneys and battling it out in the courtroom.  At Hulse Law Firm, PC, we are attorney-mediators, and we enjoy helping you and your spouse reach resolutions in a mediation setting.  Given our background as family law attorneys, we can give you a unique perspective of how courts typically resolve matters–this empowers you to make decisions without leaving matters to a judge who will only meet you for a few hours before making life altering decisions on your behalf.  Call 720-773-2900 to determine whether mediation is right for you.

Mediation Services

We set up one or multiple mediation sessions based on the needs of your case, with a minimum session of two hours at a time.  We generally conduct mediation at our office.  If you and your spouse are unable to be in a room together, for whatever reason, we can go back and forth between two rooms to try and get matters settled.

For divorce cases, not only can we assist you in reaching parenting time and financial agreements, but we also can assist you with all the documents you need to file with the Court to get the divorce finalized.

We also help clients who have issues that come up regarding custody, parenting time arrangements, and child support matters.

Setting Up Mediation

If you and the other party know that mediation is right for you, we would be happy to work with you.  Call 720-773-2900 to schedule either a consultation or to set up mediation or send us an email.

Hulse Law Firm Littleton Colorado

Call 720-773-2900 to Schedule a Free Consultation to learn about your options for divorce and custody mediation.

PERA and Divorce:

In Colorado, some state employees receive a PERA retirement account.  For example, this is a common asset for teachers and school administrators.  Part of the PERA retirement is a pension that is received on a monthly basis upon retirement.  This can be a very large asset in the divorce.

It is important to get the PERA valued by an expert.  The face value of the asset on the statement is typically not accurate.  The value is usually 2-3 more than what the statement says the value is (though this is dependent on different circumstances).

The asset can be divided in different ways.  First, it can be divided by the “time/rule formula.”  This is the basic formula:

Time earning the PERA account while married

_____________________________________  X  0.5    =  percentage of asset to be given to spouse

Total time earning the PERA account

 

Oftentimes, parties will determine this percentage, and upon retirement, the spouse will receive his or her share on a monthly basis.

We can also offset the total value of the PERA asset with another asset.  So if the PERA account is worth $100,000 and there is another retirement account worth $100,000, the spouse receiving PERA would keep his account and the other spouse would keep the other retirement account.  (Taxes usually would need to be evaluated when determining whether the two accounts are actually equal).

PERA accounts can be complicated to value and divide in a divorce.  They, however, are usually very valuable so it is important to not give up your right to this asset without proper analysis and negotiation.  If you have any questions regarding your PERA account in a divorce, please call 720-773-2900 to schedule a free consultatio

At the Hulse Law Firm, PC, we recognize that a divorce impacts many areas of your life, and the legal aspect is just a small part of the journey.  I will be providing those that are thinking about a divorce, going through a divorce, or wading through life just after a divorce with some information and resources about those non-legal issues that impact your life through a Guest Blog Series.

 

For my first guest blog, Kristi Sullivan, a financial advisor, will be answering some common questions my clients have about financial planning and a divorce.  She will talk about divorce and financial planning.  Below is a link to her biography if you want to contact her directly or get more information. 

What are your top tips for reorganizing your financial life after divorce?
First, get a realistic picture of your new income versus spending. Likely you will need to cut back on your housing spending, kids’ expectations will need to change, and savings jumpstarted. Don’t waste time thinking about what used to be or regretting what you wish were different. Start from now and move forward in the new reality. Get financial advice if you need it.

Any tips regarding the house in the divorce?                                                                                                                                      Yes, I have a very strong opinion on that. Ninety nine percent of the time, the marital house should be sold and the equity divided. Use the proceeds to buy a new, smaller house that you can afford on your own. Get away from the emotional baggage of the location of the end of your marriage. Many women try to hang on to the house to avoid disrupting the kids. However, alone one spouse usually cannot afford the payments and upkeep of a home that two people were supporting before. Also, instead of getting an asset like an IRA account, you’ve gotten a liability in the form of a mortgage. Face it, the kids are already disrupted. Having their mom or dad super-stressed out about losing a home to foreclosure is not going to help the kids’ transition to post-divorce life.

Additionally there is nothing wrong with renting for a year or so while you figure out your new life. There may be a move in your future for a job. Or you just don’t have the mental and financial space to deal with home repairs. Renting is a nice way to take a breather and not rush into financial commitments that are hard to get out of.

What does your business provide to help people after a divorce?                                                                                                My business offers unbiased money planning for an hourly or project based fee. I won’t try to sell you expensive investments or insurance products you don’t need. I provide a safe, judgement-free place to discuss your financial fears and concrete steps to move forward financially after a divorce.

Bio: Kristi Sullivan, Certified Financial Planner ™ is the founder of Sullivan Financial Planning, a fee-only financial planning firm dedicated to helping clients achieve life goals in a fiscally sustainable way. She has been helping people achieve financial security since 1996, working at Great-West Life and Fidelity Investments before starting her own firm in 2007. For more information, please visit  www.sullivanfinancialplanning.com

 

 

 

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What is the Initial Status Conference?

Every divorce case and most allocation of parenting time cases have an initial status conference as part of the process.  Oftentimes, the Court will provide you with the date and time of your initial status conference when you file the case.

The Initial Status Conference (often called “ISC”) is usually scheduled 30 to 40 days after the case has been filed with the court.  The ISC is either held in front of a magistrate, a judge, or a family court facilitator.

The ISC is required in all cases, and gives the parties and the court a chance to know what the issues are in each case.  The court will ask what has already been completed in terms of exchanging financial disclosures, preparing the sworn financial statement, and taking the parenting class. The court typically prefers that all these have been completed before the ISC, but if they have not, the court will schedule deadlines for these items to be completed.

At the ISC, a party can request that a temporary orders hearing be scheduled.  This may be necessary in your case if you need immediate relief regarding maintenance, child support, or need orders to see your children.

The court usually asks at the ISC if experts are needed.  Experts in a family law case would include, a child and family investigator (CFI), a PRE (parental responsibility evaluator), an appraiser for the home, a business evaluator, or a vocational evaluator.  If an expert is needed, the court generally will give the parties deadlines to obtain an expert that is needed.

Sometimes emergency issues are already occurring at this stage in a case.  The court tend to not enter orders at the ISC, but if a parent hasn’t seen his or her child at all, or if one party is in dire need of financial support, the court may enter interim orders to solve these immediate problems.  If you are in front of a family court facilitator, he or she will not be able to enter orders in your case.

In summary, the ISC is a chance for the parties to be aware of their responsibilities going forward in a case and for the court to have a sense of what direction each case is taking.  If you have any further questions regarding the court process, please call 720-773-2900 to schedule a free initial consultation.