When I was teaching at West Point (US Military Academy), we used to give a pass/fail writing test which determined if a cadet moved on to his or her junior year. It was a high stress moment for the cadets, and one year a cadet burst into tears during the test over his fear that he might fail. A fellow instructor in disbelief said, “Good God, man, stop that, no one is shooting at you.”
Most of us can emphasize with that cadet; we fear the unknown, and we fear the consequences of a possible change in our lives. This is often the case with those facing divorce, particularly in those cases in which parenting time, child support and a division of marital property are contested.
We are all familiar with the stories of unjust outcomes in which one party is left with nothing or a father is left with little access to his children. These things can happen, but by and large a good guide can help someone navigate the legal system. This is why I always counsel meeting with an attorney whose practice is in this area. Doing so can alleviate the fear of the unknown.
For example, I see people who fear that after years of not working they will be left with nothing. Fortunately, in most cases this is not the case. A court can award maintenance or property to ensure a spouse is not left destitute.
Let’s take the following example. A couple purchases a home but one party’s name is not on the deed or the mortgage; to whom does the home belong? The answer is that if the home was purchased during the marriage and there is no agreement to the contrary the court is likely to find that the home is marital property. Every situation is different, but the general rule is that if there is any marital equity that equity is divisible between the parties. Marital equity is nothing more than the equity in property which was accumulated during the marriage. So, if an investment grew by a $100 during a marriage the $100 growth might represent equity that could be divided by the Court.
Similar rules apply regarding parenting time. If you have been involved with your children and there is no conduct to warrant otherwise, judges in Colorado are going to ensure you get time with your children. Again, circumstances in each case are different, but Colorado is one of the better states with regards to parenting time because the Colorado state legislature has determined that both moms and dads are important to their children. This is good news for fathers who often fear they will be shut out from the lives of their children.
Bottom line: Don’t panic; talk to us and we can give you advice based upon your circumstances.