Your Divorce Planning ChecklistStephanie Zambo
Our Fort Collins divorce attorneys have compiled a divorce checklist to provide general guidance for those who are divorcing. The COVID 19 pandemic is effecting divorces in Colorado and around the world.
The American Psychological Association reports between 40 and 50% of Americans will divorce. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks statistics on divorce, and their most recent divorce statistics can be found here. It is important to know you are not alone if you are contemplating divorce and preparing can help reduce stress and provide clarity as you take the necessary steps outlined in this checklist.
Look at Your Goals
Imagine yourself a year from now and where you want to be. You need to have a vision, a goal. If you work with an attorney, your goals should be the priority, and our Fort Collins divorce attorneys will craft the strategy to best work towards your goals. Dream bigger and look further into the future, imagine yourself in the near future and beyond.
- Where do you see yourself in a year? Financially? Personally? Physically?
- Where do you see yourself in three years?
- Where do you see yourself in ten years? Twenty years?
- What do you want your life to look like?
- What do you want your family to look like?
- What do you want your relationship between you and your present partner to look like?
- What do you want for your children?
- Know the Details
Information and resources for your children may need are critical, and should be prioritized if you contemplating divorcing. Consider the following;
- Who are their friends and their friends’ families?
- Who are their teachers? Include contact details.
- Who are their medical providers?
- Who are their extracurricular activities’ leaders?
- What are their schedules?
- Where are their beloved things? Your beloved things from them? (Artwork, trophies’, toys, first tooth, baby books, etc.)
Plan / Know Your Finances
You have envisioned where you are going to be in one in five years and beyond year (if you followed one of the first suggestions in this blog ;). Now it is time to plan for the coming year and the divorce. While you know how to access your personal bank account you will want to consider other accounts that may be accessed infrequently or only accessible by your partner, such as retirement accounts. Working with professional financial planners should be considered. You can learn more about property division by clicking here.
- What marital assets/debits are there? What access do you have to these? How liquid are they and how can you best optimize their value to you?
- Bank accounts
- Lines of credit
- Real estate/mortgages – what is your equity in your real estate?
- Investment accounts – what penalties might be levied if you withdraw early?
- Retirement accounts – early withdrawal penalties
- Personal property
- Vehicles – are there loans?
- Jewelry, what is separate property?
- Artwork, intellectual property,
- Cash under your bed
- What difficulties might you have in accessing these marital assets?
- Does your spouse hold the “key” to these assets?
- Would they withhold them from you?
- Do you have “separate property”, assets that you brought to the marriage, were gifted, or inherited?
- What access to funding do you have outside of the marital assets? Family? Friends? New credit lines?
- Build a budget:
- What are your expenses?
- Monthly/Weekly: Food, utilities, housing, transportation, kids, etc.
- Yearly: Taxes
- You are going to need a pot for attorney’s fees
- What are your income streams
- What are your expenses?
4. Identify your Resources – Mental, emotional, physical in addition to the financial
Divorce is one of the most stressful times you will go through. You need support.
- Do you have family members you can rely on? Friends for support?
- Make sure you have a counselors, therapists or other professionals who can provide expert advice.
- When it comes to divorce, you will need to make some careful assessments about your spouse:
- Are they reasonable?
- Are they dangerous?
- Do they have anger problems?
- Do they have drug or alcohol problems?
- Are they depressed? Are there fears of self-harm or suicide?
- Are you safe?
- Are your children safe?
- Make a careful plan to tell your spouse in person, via phone, text message, telegram or smoke signal? Alternatively, you can leave it to your attorney to develop a plan, as your attorney has many ways of informing the other party of the divorce depending on the unique circumstances of your divorce. We have seen it all (except for the telegram or smoke signal).
- Be cordial if possible. Often respect will save you thousands of dollars.
Be very careful of the fallout for you, your spouse, and any children you may have. The process server jumping out of the bushes and announcing “you have been served!” is an option, but not always the most productive option to inform your spouse you want a divorce. A professional letter and brief introductory call from your attorney to set the right tone?
6. If you have children, develop a thoughtful plan to tell them you are getting a divorce
- If you have a family therapist, turn to them for suggestions, resources and support.
- It doesn’t matter if your children are toddlers or have emancipated, this is no easy task. Your approach should consider your children’s emotional well-being.
- Identify where you need to file
The proper court is located in the county where the parties live, or where the responding spouse lives. If you have recently relocated you will need to speak with an attorney to determine where to file. In Colorado, you must reside in the county for a minimum of 91 days prior to filing.
- If you are divorcing in Fort Collins, Loveland, Wellington, Berthoud, Estes Park or elsewhere in either Jackson or Larimer County you should file in Larimer County in the 8th Judicial District.
- If you are divorcing in Greeley you should file in Weld County in the 19th Judicial District.
- If you reside in Windsor you need to determine which county you live, either Larimer or Weld County
- You can learn more about the divorce filing process by clicking here.
This blog explores some divorce checklist items and questions for you to consider if you are facing a divorce in Colorado. If you are planning for divorce in private, check out our 5 Steps for Planning for Divorce in Private for helpful tips. Our divorce attorneys can take cases throughout Colorado, and commonly have cases in Northern Colorado including Greeley and Fort Collins, as well as Loveland and Windsor. However, given the trend of Courts allowing video appearances at conferences and trials our Fort Collins divorce attorneys can now accept cases outside of the Front Range. Contact us for a free consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss your plans for divorce and how an attorney can help you navigate the many complexities of divorce.