Frequently Asked Questions
We offer answers to questions we find asked most often by clients seeking legal services in Family Law.
What is the difference between a Legal Separation and a Dissolution of Marriage?
In a Colorado Legal Separation action, the parties complete the same requirements as are required for a Dissolution of Marriage, including exchanging mandatory financial disclosures, allocating assets and debts, addressing maintenance and child support, and allocating parenting time and decision-making. At the conclusion of the case, a Decree of Legal Separation is entered rather than a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. The main difference between a divorce and a legal separation is that neither party can remarry while they are legally separated. After the 6-month waiting period has elapsed, either party may move the court to convert a Decree of Legal Separation to a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
How long does it take to get divorced or legally separated in Colorado?
Colorado law requires a statutory 91-day waiting period before entry of the Decree of Legal Separation or Decree of Dissolution of Marriage after the start of the divorce or legal separation proceeding. In the event the parties are able to settle their case in less than 91 days, the court will require the 91 days to elapse before entry of the Decree of Legal Separation or Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
What is mediation and is it required?
Mediation or “Alternative Dispute Resolution” is the process in which both parties and their attorneys attend a meeting with a neutral third-party mediator to attempt to resolve their case without the need for a hearing before the court. Mediation is typically scheduled for a full-day or half-day, during which the mediator works with both sides to assist them in negotiating a settlement that allows the parties to save the expense of litigation. Mediation is ordered by the Court in nearly all divorce cases in Colorado as well as in post-divorce matters and child custody matters.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution that allows parties to resolve issues without court intervention. In order to participate in this process, both parties must agree to use arbitration rather than litigation to resolve the dispute. The parties each present their side of the issue to a neutral arbiter who is tasked with deciding the issue. The arbitrator issues an “arbitration award” which is legally binding, is filed with the court, and becomes a court order.
How is child support calculated?
In Colorado, child support is calculated using a statutory formula. The formula takes into account both parents’ monthly incomes and includes the cost of the health insurance premium for the child(ren) as well as work-related childcare expenses and extraordinary medical expenses. The calculation also considers the number of overnights of parenting time each parent has with the child. The court may also consider other factors in this calculation which are addressed on a case-by-case basis.
What are the residency requirements for getting divorced in Colorado?
In order to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Colorado, one of the parties in the case must have lived in Colorado for a full 91 days before filing the Petition with the court. In order for the court to have jurisdiction over the children, the children must have lived in Colorado for at least six months, or since birth in the case of an infant under 6 months of age.
Do your attorneys represent clients in all areas of Colorado?
The majority of our cases are filed in the greater Denver area counties including Denver, Arapahoe, Adams, Jefferson, Douglas, Boulder, El Paso and Broomfield, or in the mountain counties such as Pitkin, Summit, La Plata, San Miguel and Eagle. However, we work with clients all over the State of Colorado.
What is a Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce differs in many ways from a traditional divorce. In a collaborative divorce, the parties work together with their attorneys, a neutral collaborative facilitator, and any joint experts they may need, to come to a resolution of their case without court intervention. The process offers parties the flexibility to move the process along at their own pace, to have open dialogue throughout the process, and avoid some of the conflicts that can arise in litigated divorces. In this process, the parties enter into an agreement to be forthcoming with information and disclosures, and not to engage in litigation during the collaborative process. The parties both sign contracts with their respective attorneys stating that they understand that if the collaborative process is unsuccessful, each party will need to retain a new attorney to assist them in the litigated divorce process. Kristi Anderson Wells and Zachary Roeling are both trained in the collaborative divorce model. Kristi is the immediate past president of Colorado Collaborative Divorce Professionals.
What do I do if I have been served with divorce or legal separation papers?
Once you have been served with divorce or legal separation papers, the case is officially in progress and the court’s timeline goes into effect. The Automatic Temporary Injunction that is detailed on the Petition also goes into effect on the date of service. You have twenty-one (21) days from the date you are served the papers to file a Response with the court. The best step to take after being served is to meet with an attorney who can explain to you the timeline, court requirements, and next steps in order to protect your interests and assist you with understanding the court’s expectations in your case.
What do I do if my ex-spouse is not complying with the terms of our Separation Agreement or Parenting Plan?
There are many avenues for remedy available to you in these situations. One option is for an attorney to assist you in communicating with the other side regarding the issues and attempt to negotiate a resolution. This can be done between counsel directly or through attending mediation. If these avenues are unsuccessful, you may also file a Motion to Enforce or a contempt action depending on the nature of the issue. Each case has its own unique facts and an attorney can review your case and provide you with a range of strategic options and possible outcomes.
What services does your firm offer?
Wells Family Law offers services to our clients in all areas of family law including dissolution of marriage, common law marriage, legal separation, child custody and decision-making, child support, maintenance, post-decree matters including enforcement of child support, parenting, maintenance and property allocation orders, collaborative divorce, mediation, LGBTQ family matters, protection orders, and grandparent’s rights. Kristi Anderson Wells also co-authored the book The Executive Compensation Handbook: Stock Option Awards, Restricted Stock Grants, Cash Bonuses, Incentives and Other Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation in Divorce, published by the American Bar Association, and offers services as an expert in the area of dividing stock rights, retirement assets and other nonqualified deferred compensation in family law cases.
Can you represent both parties in a case?
We are unable to represent both parties in a case. Even if the parties are getting along well, each party will still have wants and needs in their case and will need to ensure that their own interests are protected. Given the inherent conflict of interest in family law matters, an attorney is only able to represent the interests of one party in a case. We are happy to represent one party and provide referrals upon request of other attorneys that can represent the other spouse in the case.
Do you mediate?
Both Kristi Anderson Wells and Zachary Roeling are trained mediators. When an attorney at our firm is hired as a mediator, he or she is acting as a neutral and is not representing either party. While the mediator may discuss options for settlement, he or she cannot provide legal advice while acting as a mediator.
Do you offer free consultations?
The consultations offered at Wells Family Law are designed to not only inform you of the process and procedures related to your family law matter, but also to provide you with a legal roadmap tailored to your specific case. During your consultation, the attorney will provide you with specific legal advice, answers to complex legal questions, may review specific documents you provide, and will make recommendations on how best to proceed in your case. Due to the time involved in consultations and the quality and depth of advice provided, we do not offer free consultations.
How much does it cost to get divorced?
It is difficult to predict the total cost of a divorce case. There are many factors that go into a divorce that can affect the cost such as the complexity of the marital estate, the current level of conflict between the parties, specific child-related issues, both parties’ cooperation with deadlines and requirements of the court, and so forth. Throughout your case your attorney at Wells Family Law will always be available to provide advice on ways to mitigate and reduce costs in your specific case.