There are a multitude of reasons two people who once loved each other may find themselves deciding to separate and divorce. Financial burdens, infidelity, or simply not feeling the spark any longer can create a rift that may seem impossible to overcome. When children are involved, the decision to divorce can be even more difficult. If you are contemplating divorce or have already filed for one and expect it to be contested by your spouse, you need an experienced Fort Collins contested divorce lawyer on your side.
At Johnson Law Group, our attorneys have experience handling both contested and uncontested divorces. We understand your challenges and will work diligently to protect what is most important to you and your family. From day one, we will be by your side, ensuring you understand the process and know what to expect at every step.
A contested divorce occurs when both individuals trying to dissolve a marriage cannot agree on one or more of the terms of their legal separation, such as child custody, property division, or spousal support. It's a scenario where their disagreement is so strong that their divorce proceedings halt and often require a judge's intervention to decide on their behalf. Once the judge has made a ruling, the divorce can then move forward and is officially no longer contested.
When you share a life with someone, many valuable possessions and goals are intertwined. Therefore, it is common for disagreements to arise over how best to divide belongings to which both parties may feel a great sense of attachment or worth. The following are some of the more common issues that are contested in a divorce:
- Child Custody: In a contested divorce, both parents will likely want what they feel is best for their children regarding physical and legal custody. It's not uncommon for there to be a disagreement on whom the children should live with more frequently or how much time they should spend with each parent. Unless one parent is deemed unfit, the court will typically try to come to a compromise that balances the child's best interests with both parents' rights.
- Property Division: When a couple gets divorced, all the property acquired during the marriage must be divided between the two parties. This can often be a controversial issue, especially if there is a large disparity in earning potential or one party feels they contributed more to the property acquisition.
- Spousal Support: Also known as alimony, this is financial compensation one spouse may be required to pay to the other after a divorce. The total amount and duration of spousal support are often decided based on several factors, including the length of the marriage, each spouse's earning potential, and their current standard of living.
- Child Support: Similar to spousal support, child support is financial compensation one parent may be required to pay the other for their children's care. The amount of child support is typically based on several factors, including the annual income of both parents, how many kids they have together, and the amount of time each parent spends with the children. Other considerations may also be considered, such as the child's healthcare and childcare needs.
Though divorcing couples may struggle over disagreement with commonly contested issues, they may agree on wanting to avoid going to court. When this is the case, a few alternative family law solutions to a contested divorce may work. These include:
- Collaborative Law: Collaborative law is when both parties and their attorneys work together to agree on the divorce's terms. If they are successful, they will draft a legal document filed with the court. This is often an attractive option for couples looking to maintain a civil relationship after the divorce.
- Divorce Mediation: In divorce mediation, both parties meet with a neutral third-party mediator who will help them try to agree on the terms of their divorce. The mediator does not make any decisions but helps facilitate communication and understanding between the two parties. This is good for couples who want more control over their divorce's outcome.
- Arbitration: Arbitration is a process where both parties present their case to an arbitrator who will then decide on the terms of the divorce. This is often a good option for couples who want to avoid going to court but are unable to agree on their own.
Going to court is not an inevitable outcome when getting a divorce. There are several family law alternative solutions to a contested divorce that may be more beneficial for you and your spouse to consider.
If you are in a contested divorce, it's important to understand how you can best be prepared. Here are a few things you can expect:
- It will take longer: A contested divorce can take months or even years to resolve, whereas an uncontested divorce can be completed in as little as a few weeks. Not being able to come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce dramatically impacts how quickly both parties can move on with their lives.
- It will be more expensive: A contested divorce is also typically more expensive than an uncontested divorce. This is because contested divorces often require more time from legal stakeholders which can rack up additional legal fees. For some, the added cost may be worth it if they feel they need to fight for what's fair. For others, this may influence some of their decisions about what to fight for in the divorce.
- You may need to go to court: If you are unable to come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce, and you have not found success in any alternative dispute resolution methods, you may need to go to court. This means that a judge will make binding decisions about your divorce. Going to court can also be a lengthy and expensive process that can take its toll emotionally.
- You will need to compromise: In a contested divorce, both parties will need to be willing to compromise to come to an agreement. This means that both parties will need to be willing to give up some of what they want in order to reach a resolution. For some, this can be a difficult pill to swallow. But for others, it may be worth it to finally have the divorce resolved.
- You will need to communicate: In a contested divorce, both parties must be able to communicate effectively to reach an agreement. This means being able to listen to each other, as well as being able to express your own needs and wants. If you are not able to communicate effectively, having the support of a mediator or lawyer is beneficial.
Q: How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Colorado?
A: The amount of time it takes to resolve a contested divorce in Colorado can vary depending on the severity of the conflict, the number of issues to be resolved, and the willingness of both parties to compromise. In some cases, a contested divorce can take months or even years to resolve as each party combs through every detail. In other cases, a contested divorce can be resolved in a few weeks if both parties are willing to compromise.
Q: Can You Contest a Divorce in Colorado?
A: Yes, you can contest a divorce in Colorado. If you are unable to come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce, you may need to take your case to court where a judge will make binding decisions regarding the terms of your divorce, the distribution of property, and custody determinations in the case of children.
Q: How Much Does a Divorce Attorney Cost in Colorado?
A: The cost of a divorce attorney in Colorado can vary depending on the complexity of your case, how many hours are spent on your case, and whether you are using a mediator or going to court. These factors make it difficult to give a definitive answer on how much a lawyer will cost. Discussing your options with a lawyer can give you a better idea of what to expect in terms of cost.
Q: When Is a Divorce Settlement Unfair?
A: A divorce settlement is unfair if it is not equitable for both parties. This means that each party should get a fair share of the assets and liabilities accumulated during the marriage. If one party feels they are not getting a fair share, they may contest the divorce in court.
If you are heading into or are in the middle of a contested divorce, it is important to seek legal assistance. The divorce lawyers at Johnson Law Group can help you navigate this difficult process and ensure that your rights are protected. Contact us today to schedule and be on your way to a fresh start.