This is one of the most asked questions we hear at the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado. It’s only natural to want some certainty during such an uncertain time in your life. You want to plan your post divorce future and understanding the timeline helps you do this.
While we wish there was a definitive answer, the time it takes to divorce will depend on a few factors unique to you and your soon to be ex-spouse. This blog looks at these factors with an emphasis on the ones you have control over and offers suggestions to lessen some sticking points in the divorce process.
Before we get into the main factors, first to remember is that in Colorado there is a 91-day ‘cooling off’ period. So, that is the minimum a divorce can take.
If you are seeking divorce as a result of cheating or abuse (emotional, physical or both) this pre-existing conflict will most certainly slow the process down. This is because the wronged party(ies) are in no position to want to make the process easier for the other party. It sounds overly simplistic but, “hurt people hurt people” and when you’ve been wronged, you often want to exact payback any way you can and this rears its head when it comes to communicating with the person who hurt you. A high level of conflict is not an insurmountable obstacle in the divorce journey, but it may prevent you from engaging in a successful divorce mediation. An attorney -led divorce will take longer on average, but it may be necessary if communication is impossible and conflict is overwhelming.
The state of Colorado requires a parenting plan but even if it didn’t you would need one to resolve the following issues:
Additionally, the following information is often included:
While it will take time to flesh out as many details as possible, a vague parenting plan will take more time (and cost more money) in the long run due a return visit or phone call to your attorney or mediator to resolve an issue.
If you have multiple properties and investment accounts, there is simply more to split up. A reminder that Colorado is an ‘equitable distribution’ state and assets and debts acquired during marriage (i.e. the marital estate) should be divided equitably between the spouses. Every asset, cars, jewelry, and even furniture is subject to division so if you’ve acquired more, it may take longer to come to an agreement around who will end up with the asset (or debt)
If you own a business together, you will need to bring in a business evaluation expert to provide a fair market value. We have a trusted advisor who helps our clients do just this.
You have four ways to proceed with divorce. DIY or do it yourself, attorney led divorce, divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. These methods are discussed in great detail here. The method you choose will depend on the amount of assets you have, the presence or absence of conflict, the length of the marriage and whether children are involved. Generally, the more complicated, conflict-heavy situations where children are present warrant an attorney-led divorce. The simpler, conflict free, minimal asset divorces may be accomplished by the parties themselves.
For everything in between, mediation and collaborative divorce are most useful.
A DIY divorce could take less than 4 months while an attorney led divorce could take 6-12 months, or more. Factors that are out of your attorney’s control include how packed the judge’s docket is, how long it takes your ex-spouse's attorney to provide the necessary documents for financial disclosure, and how long it takes a judge to rule on a motion made by either party.
Divorce mediation can be much quicker since those factors are not present and instead of two attorneys, you only have one mediator who is working with both parties to reach a consensus. Also, keep in mind that a mediator is usually not paid by the hour but charges a flat fee so each phone call, motion made, email sent is not calculated in 15 minute increments. Divorce cost is discussed in greater detail here.
Collaborative divorce involves two attorneys and a mediator and for that reason will likely take longer since there are two more parties in the mix.
1. As soon as you and your spouse begin talking about divorce, resolve to sit down and hash out your priorities. If it is maintaining privacy and keeping conflict to a minimum, divorce mediation is the most applicable choice.
2. Have he information needed to split up your assets and debts ready as soon as possible. This means you need to request, collect and share all the necessary statements, passwords, etc, with each other and the divorce professional you hire.
3. Consider how therapy could address the emotional fallout from divorce so it doesn’t negatively affect the length of time a divorce will take. If feelings of hurt are not processed and dealt with, they will inevitably slow down your divorce so leave that kind of emotional work to a professional. We are happy to refer you to therapists and divorce coaches who we trust to help our clients.
Schedule your 20 minute consultation today so we can help you plan for your post divorce future today!
When you’re facing divorce, you have your hands full. The last thing you should have to worry about is an incompetent attorney or mediator who was supposed to guide you through the process. Make sure you can recognize what behaviors are unacceptable so you know what your options are. Below we cover five ways attorneys and mediators may fall short and what a good relationship should look like.
What it Looks Like:
This is when your attorney or mediator is not responding to you or not responding within a reasonable amount of time. To make sure all parties are in the same page, your mediator or attorney should set expectations about how often they will communicate and how long it will take them to respond. Clear and consistent client communication is key so even you, the client, are receiving responses, if they are jumbled or nonsensical, this is just as bad as no response at all.
What it Should Look Like:
At the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado we give our clients written instructions in our getting started package to make sure our clients know how to reach us and when and for what.
Generally in business, It’s reasonable to expect a call back within x24 to 48 hours amount of time. To account for the variabilities of life, both you and the attorney or mediator should set up autoresponders for any time where you or they will be unable to respond within a normal timeline. It is unreasonable to expect a response from your attorney or mediator outside of business hours unless they've behaved in a manner that would lead you to believe that calls or texts happen outside of those hours. If you want to ensure you know that your emails have been read, look for a email tracking solution.
Can It Be Fixed? If you’re in the consultation phase, make sure to tell your attorney or mediator what you expect communication wise. Make sure your expectations line up.
The professional/firm you hire to guide you through your divorce should provide clear instructions up front as to how they manage communication timelines, and they should be held to their standards. Remember, this is your divorce, your future and you are the boss….you hire your divorce professional and you have the right to fire your divorce professional.
What it Looks Like:
If you have had to inform or remind your attorney or mediator about a deadline and missing that deadline ends up costing you money, that is a huge red flag and in most cases, warrants firing them.
Look out for:
An example of a deadloine that was missed by one of our client's previous attorneys was not turning the discovery in time so the home appraisal was inadmissible, leading the client to be awarded a substantially lower amount. Another example: witness disclosures were not made timely resulting in rescheduling your court date.
What Should it Look Like: Dates and deadlines are clearly communicated via email and with enough notice if the client needs to provide information.
Can it be fixed? It depends. If the missed deadline doesn't affect you in a material way, i.e. money or lost time, it is not worth breaking up with your mediator or attorney. If they're missing deadlines, they're also likely not communicating well, so it's not uncommon for #1 and #2 on this list to operate in tandem.
What it Looks Like:
The legal and mediation worlds depend heavily on details and facts which vary with the circumstances. Make sure that your attorney or mediator is asking relevant questions and fleshing out the details, especially related to finances and child support and parenting plans (if applicable) A failure to understand Colorado divorce law may arise if they are new practioners or if they not keeping up with changes to the law. The legal and mediation process depends heavily on the small facts which vary with the circumstances.
A competent attorney or mediator is required to have a solid understanding of the state divorce laws. You may want to exercise caution in hiring an attorney who practices different types of law with family law being one of them. Family law is very complex and case law is deep. In addition to feeling a connection with the person you hire, it is important you're comfortable with their knowledge. This means you may need to seek a second opinion.
What it should look like: When they are as open and transparent with you about what their reasoning is. They put their logic into plain English without a bunch of convoluted phrases.
Can it be fixed? This is especially tricky. You either know your stuff as they say, or you don't. There's not a speedy way to become more knowledgeable. Proceed with caution.
What it Looks Like:
Your research uncovers something they missed, etc. If you find that your lawyer or mediator has demonstrated clear ignorance or mistaken understanding of an issue of law, or has failed to understand the specific facts of your case; then maybe you aren’t getting the legal service that you paid for.
What It Should Look Like: Usually you won't know what they should have known, until its too late. However, here are clues that your attorney or mediator is the kind of divorce professional who crosses their t's and dots their i's.
An example: Mixing up your case up with another client’s case and sending you their documents.
Can it be fixed? Depends. If you suspect an error or oversight on the part of the professional, address it with them right away.
However, if you find that your lawyer has demonstrated clear ignorance or mistaken understanding of an issue of law, or has failed to understand the specific facts of your case; then maybe you aren’t getting the legal service that you paid for and you should seek another opinion.
Remember, the documents you produced as well as the reports/documents produced by the divorce professional belong to you. You may request them to seek another professional to look at them and offer a second opinion.
Too many Yes’s are also a red flag.
What it Looks Like: Some lawyers and mediators are going to tell you what you want to hear. They need to be realists and not people pleasers. It may be that you have a very strong case, but there are no guarantees. Court is really a ‘crap shoot’ and to hear promises about your outcome would not be acceptable.You need a divorce professional who will give it to you straight so that there are no terrible surprises down the road.
What it should look like: A no nonsense attorney or mediator who has been there and seen a lot. This is not about making you feel good, they're also there to manage client expectations.
Can it be fixed?
Yes, if you are in the consulting phase you can spot this kind of behavior and seek another divorce professional. If you have already hired them, and that behavior was what reeled you in, you may need to adjust your expectations to be in line with the reality of divorce where the reality is unpredictability.
If you are contemplating divorce, the professionals at the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado can help. Give us a call at 303 468-5626.
Recently, a very popular feature of the New York Times, Modern Love, featured an essay written by one half of a formerly married couple who share custody of their 8 year old and live under the same roof, albeit in different living quarters. There are various reasons why divorcing couples might consider co-habitation after divorce, but it does present some legal and emotional hurdles to clear.
If theere's co-habitation after divorce, the support obligation may be altered to reflect the fact that the person paying the support or alimony is living with the recipient and reducing their expenses.
There are many pitfalls to consider when contemplating a post-divorce living arrangement involving sharing the family home once divorced. That is why it is crucial to engage a CDFA-Certified Divorce Financial Analyst in your case. You will need someone who understands the potential tax and financial issues that can arise.
If you have children that you will be co-parenting, obviously it is not prudent to expose them to conflicts and fights that can occur over finances and/or the parenting plan.
Perhaps you and your spouse feel this would be a workable living arrangement, and it may well be for your family--it just requires the proper planning involving the right expert up front.
We provide consultations to divorcing spouses about unique living situations like these. To flesh out your questions about cohabitation, schedule a 20 minute call with one of our experienced divorce professionals.
If you are recently divorced and have worked out your post divorce holiday schedule with your ex, can you sit back and relax and enjoy the mashed potatoes? Maybe. This post divorce holiday season, consider a few key areas to make sure the holidays are as stress free as they can be for your children. Mainly, these areas of concern involve grandparents, holiday traditions and suggestions for how to divide holiday celebrations.
In this blog post, we discuss post divorce holiday concerns with suggestions and input from our clients. So whether you say Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa or Yuletide Greetings, know that you’ve done your best to make the holidays happy and bright for your children. After all, research shows positive childhood memories serve as “anchors” and provide comfort when life takes an unexpected turn. Another bonus? Happy childhood memories help children regulate stress, build concentration, and increase their attention span.
You may be keenly aware of how you and your ex spouse are navigating the post divorce holiday season, but what about your in-laws and your parents are dealing? Flexibility is a really important skill for children to master but acknowledge when their grandparents might not be as amenable to a change of plans. These adaptations are only something to be upset about if we can’t see the value in what is truly important and that is whatever time spent together should be quality time. Does spending less time at your in-laws or your parents home make it any less special? Of course not. Also, being beholden to Christmas eve or Christmas Day can spell disappointment if you’re trying to juggle multiple home visits. Where is the harm in planning a “Christmas visit” on December 27th if it works for everyone’s schedule?
If grandparents are able and willing to travel, offer to host them at your home to minimize the drive time and lessen the need for everyone to prepare a meal and clean and prepare their home. On the other end of the spectrum, if grandparents are loathe to change their holiday plans and insist on having things their way regardless of how it affects the children, it’s time to employ the “We’re sticking with (insert the blank) arrangement this holiday season. If you’d like to see the kids in January, we’d be happy to set up a time then. (See consideration #3) Remember, as a wise and funny person once said, You are not pizza, you can’t please everyone. We add, “Nor should you, especially at the expense of you or your family’s happiness or stress level.”
Keep in mind that a different life warrants different celebrations. Consider that the activities you enjoyed as a family don’t transfer when one party is no longer there. Especially if the reason you began going out and chopping down a tree was because your ex husband always did with his family. Why would you want to keep up a tradition that didn’t even originate with your marriage? What is something you can create with your children to create a new tradition? It doesn’t have to be earth shaking. Ideas include holiday movies and tree decorating. Caroling in your neighborhood or having a white elephant exchange, the possibilities are endless. Even if you decide not to celebrate in a particular way or with a festive dish - it doesn’t mean your children won’t get a dose of nostalgia elsewhere (See grandparents or other spouse)
One popular way is to alternate holidays with your ex spouse so for instance, Christmas Eve is spent with one parent one year and with the other parent the following year. When this has been agreed to, it allows each parent to make plans a year in advance based on this schedule. Alternating holidays means more uninterrupted time and not having to rush from one location to another. The obvious downside to alternating may be most acutely felt by the parent who doesn’t make plans or stay busy when they are without their children.
Another holiday arrangement is splitting holidays. When you split holidays, the child’s holiday time is split between both parents. This way, each parent has the child for a specific number of hours or until a set time. In most cases, one parent takes the child for the first half of the day while the other parent gets the second half. This will work best if you ive relatively close to your ex-spouse and when you have a pretty amicable relationship as there will be more regular exchanges between you two. The downside occurs if you feel rushed as you only have half day to spend with your children but you try to squeeze an entire days activity in half the time.
A third arrangement is fixed holidays. This might happen when spouses practice different religions and their respective religious or cultural celebrations fall on non overlapping days. When these fixed holidays control the schedule, it removes contention and allows for time for each parent to celebrate in a way that doesn’t take away time from their ex spouse.
A fourth arrangement is to double up on the post divorce holiday with two or even four potential Christmases, New Years’s etc. if the children have both grandparents and there’s no way to combine visits. The upside is that the children get to celebrate all the holidays with all the possible family members so long as distance is not an issue. However, perhaps instead of four gifts, it may be less contentious to buy joint gifts so it doesn’t turn into a gifting competition and too many toys taking over each spouse’s home.
A fifth way to divvy up holidays is to celebrate the holidays together as you did pre-divorce. Obviously you’ll want to discuss if significant others will also be included prior to remarriage but this arrangement is the closest reincarnation of pre-divorce life.
The final way to deal with holidays is to allow the parenting plan to dictate holidays. This can be easier to plan around since you know in advance if your ex spouse has Thursdays through Sundays and if Christmas eve and Christmas Day fall in that window, then you can keep to the parenting plan without any extra discussion.
Selecting any of these arrangements is preferable to turning to your ex spouse each year and saying, “So what should we do about the holidays?” There’s no rule that you have to pick one way and stick with it for eternity either. Flexibility helps them navigate social challenges in their own lives. We’ve all seen adults who are severely deficient in flexible thinking and since this executive function is set by the age of 20, making their behavior nearly impossible to change, our children still have time to learn this important life skill.
The holiday season is full of memories, nostalgia, traditions and this doesn’t change with a divorce decree. Get creative, stay flexible and keep the lines of communication open with all family members who appreciate the magic of the holidays. Consider this blog post as just another piece of advice from a divorce professional reminding you to keep your expectations hopeful, celebrate your own way and remain cordial. Each month, check out our blog for more friendly tips and advice.
What will your post divorce life look like?
When you’ve made a lifetime commitment of marriage, facing a divorce brings up all kinds of uncertainties and accompanying questions.
At the Divorce Resource Centre we take a process oriented approach to these questions DURING the divorce mediation process. Whether you come to us first, or after you’ve worked with an attorney, we take you through our process so you have a system you can rely on. Goals get all the attention when developing a process and creating a system are much more important.
This is true especially when you’re planning what the rest of your life will look like. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits said it best, “The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. Systems are the processes that lead to those results.”
Divorce mediation is not about winning the game, it’s about finding a long term peaceful resolution. So do you have a system and a process to get there? The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado has a six part process to arrive at a peaceful resolution. Below we discuss each step in our unique process in more detail.
The first step is gaining clarity about your financial situation. We focus on your current and future financial situation, your goals and guiding principles. The financial needs of the children are also part of this process. In this step, we offer initial observations and possibilities for the outcome of your case, all while taking the time to ensure that you understand each part of the mediation roadmap.
DRCC’s next step is working to make sure you and your soon to be ex spouse are on the same page. We ask the right questions to uncover your thoughts about dividing one household into two, financially and where both parents stand on various parenting issues. You’ll gather your thoughts using straightforward worksheets and have a chance to express your point of view on any issues of concern so that we can properly facilitate your discussions and agreement.
The third step in our divorce mediation process is creating forward focused budgets and a cash flow analysis. With our guidance, you’ll create a realistic, forward-looking spending plan to implement and rely on as you rebuild financially post-divorce.
Each member of our team is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst so we go over:
The fourth step in our divorce mediation process is for parents. We believe that while your marriage ends, your family continues and care should be taken to ensure you enjoy healthy lives and relationships post-divorce. We’ll help you create a parenting plan (not an order) to meet your children’s needs and family’s best interest.
The fifth part of our process is negotiation and agreement. With all the details about your income, property, budgets, and parenting factors in mind, we’ll make sure you have what you need to have effective conversations with your counsel and other advisors and successfully finalize your divorce.
Relevant documents we’ll complete include:
The final step in DRCC’s process is the mediation conclusion. We empower both of you with a plan for successful implementation of a post-divorce life—one that meets the unique needs of your family. This includes a thorough post-divorce checklist review.
With so many what ifs and contingencies, even type B personalities are not immune to the stress of divorce. Did you know divorce is ranked #2 on the The Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale, right behind the death of a spouse? For an overview of our process, check out our divorce mediation roadmap. Better yet, when you’re ready to move closer to a better post divorce future, take the next step with a 20 minute complimentary phone consultation with a member of our team. We’ll both ask clarifying questions to better understand what is happening with you and your partner.
You and your spouse have made the decision to divorce. So what happens to your savings accounts, furnishings, and most importantly your home? In this blog post, we look at how property is divided in Colorado, what makes property subject to division and behaviors to avoid if your divorce mediation is underway.
Whether you are proceeding with an attorney assisted divorce or a divorce mediation, the ground rules for property division in Colorado are the same. Colorado follows the doctrine of equitable distribution when it comes to dividing marital property. Do not be fooled that because equitable and equal share the same first three letters, that the two words are interchangeable. It’s a bit more nuanced than that.
Equitable is not the same thing as equal but it doesn’t rule out that an equal division might sometimes be in order. An equitable solution is the solution based on what is just, fair, and right, in consideration of the facts and circumstances.
For example, if both parties to the marriage bought a sofa together and each person contributed $500 and both parties make roughly the same amount of money, what would be a way to make an equitable distribution? If they couldn’t come to an agreement about who gets to keep it, a judge or mediator may advise them to sell the couch and divide the proceeds equally.
In this instance, equitable worked out to be equal because each party was in relatively the same situation and contributed the same amount of money.
But, when you consider how rare it is that parties to a marriage will be on the same footing financially at that point, or into the future, it makes a lot more sense that Colorado uses a system of equitable distribution. Forty one states besides Colorado use equitable distribution while only Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are community property states. In community property states, there is equal division among the spouses.
In Colorado, equitable distribution means property will be divided by the court or divorce mediator in a manner that is deemed fair to both parties. Note: spouses are free to come to a decision on their own. You do not have to make the determination for all items deemed marital property before they leave the house or are sold. Couples who can agree about what to do with any given item, marital or separate, can make those decisions and not wait for a mediator or judge to decide.
To make a determination about what to do with marital property, a court or mediator looks at all the factors.
Common factors include, but are not limited to:
The property of couples divorcing in Colorado is deemed to be either marital or separate property. Separate property is property brought into the marriage by that spouse, and or Property they received during the marriage by gift or inheritance. Compare this to marital property that covers anything acquired after the marriage.
The main determining factor for marital property is, was the item bought, or the account opened before the marriage began? If yes, it’s deemed separate property. If not, it’s marital property. The date of marriage is what controls.
Even if you opened up a savings account at the bank in your name only and only you made deposits into it, it is still marital property if you opened it after you were married.
Where it gets a little tricky is when one party co-mingles their separate property with the marital property, which changes the nature of the separate property.
Below are a few ways that co-mingling money changes separate property to marital property:
It boils down to keeping meticulous records. If you want to make a purchase and make sure it remains separate property, then use funds out of an account with only your name on it and keep records about the funds used to make the purchase. Also, it is never a good idea to sell or give away any of your property while your divorce proceedings, including mediation, are underway. The way around this is to come to a mutual agreement, especially if one party, or both, desperately needs the money. However, it is best practices and will keep things running more smoothly if you don’t move money around and don’t buy any big ticket items during this time. Yes, we’ve heard the news that interest rates will begin to rise by the end of 2022 but that doesn’t exempt you to ignore the “no big purchases” rule of thumb.
Our roadmap to resolution breaks down our 8-12 week mediation process. Property division is part of step 2 of our 6 step process and only comes after clarifying your future financial situation, your goals and guiding principles. We can guide you in making the kind of property decisions that best suit your unique circumstances without the tension usually experienced in an attorney led process.
To find out more about our process, please schedule a complimentary 20 minute consultation’ with one of our experienced divorce mediators.
We’ve all heard about divorces dragging on for months and even years. Some high profile divorce cases such as the Rosendales in California and Purpuras in New York lasted 12 and 21 years respectively! While decade plus long divorces are not the norm, attorney-led divorces will take longer than divorce mediation.
If you’re considering divorce mediation, this blog explores how the divorce mediation process is designed to move more quickly than attorney-led divorce, factors that affect the timeline and how clients can ensure their divorce mediation is swift.
The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado’s divorce mediation process is designed to last 8-12 weeks. We plan on four to five two-hour meetings, occurring every two weeks. When all parties are aware of this timeline and agree to proceed in good faith, it is much easier for them to stick to this schedule.
Compare our divorce mediation timeline to the traditional attorney-led divorce in Colorado which lasts on average six to 12 months.
There are many reasons that an attorney-led divorce will take longer and some are outside of your control. A big factor is the way the legal system is designed. Every time you or your spouse files a motion in court, you have to give each other a certain number of days advance notice that you will be presenting that motion in court.
Not to mention, the party receiving the motion is given a certain amount of time to respond to it. The same thing is true for the next motion filed, and the next and so on.
Furthermore, attorney-led divorces are dependent on the court’s calendar. Consider that you have to get a hearing date on the docket to start proceedings. Unfortunately, if the court’s calendar is full, you may have to wait weeks or months. COVID-19 threw a wrench into Colorado’s family court machine in 2020 and just as courts were catching up in 2021, there is a new spike of cases with the Delta variant which may lead to another slowdown.
Another factor at play in a traditional divorce is your attorney’s diligence. If your attorney needs more time to gather evidence or respond, or your spouse’s attorney needs the same, everything grinds to a halt for a continuance.
When you have acrimony over agreement, your attorney ends up spending more time, albeit more time fighting for your best interests.
Another factor that makes traditional divorce take longer is the need for outside experts. All divorces involve financial considerations, but while lawyers are experts in divorce and family law, they are rarely also credentialed financial advisors. This means they need to bring in an outside financial expert. To throw more uncertainty into the mix, the outside financial professional has existing clients and their own schedule.
Compare this to the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado where all of our mediators are Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFAs.) We advise you what financial documents you need, how to obtain them and can analyze them and make recommendations for both of you.
The factors that affect a traditional divorce and a divorce mediation are the same. As a general rule, the longer a marriage lasts, the more work is involved. If the couple has children, there are parenting schedules and decisions around where to live and go to school to decide. If there is a high net worth, there are more financial considerations at hand. Another important factor is the willingness of each party to want to resolve the divorce in a swift but fair fashion.
Below we discuss each of these factors in more detail.
It makes sense that a marriage that lasted three years would involve less complications than a 25 year marriage. The longer a couple is married, the more property they acquire and all of this property is subject to division upon divorce. Also, the longer a couple is married the more debts they may have racked up, whether it’s credit card debt or business related obligations.
The age of the children and whether they have special needs will also have an effect since visitation and custody depends on school schedules and extracurricular activities. Also, if the children have special needs, they will have appointments and additional expenses related to therapy, mobility, etc. If your children are very young, you will have to make decisions on their behalf and may even want to slow down the divorce process so they are better able to deal with the emotions they’re experiencing.
More money, more problems, right? Couples with a significant net worth have more property and it will take longer to decide how to divide it up. When your net worth is lower, you usually only have your home and a few possessions, whereas a high net worth couple may have an inheritance or trust, real estate investments, business interests, retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, jewelry and artwork.
One reason divorcing spouses choose an attorney-led divorce is because they don’t want to be taken advantage of by their soon-to-be ex-spouse. They want an advocate fighting for their best interests. Divorcing spouses in these situations are encouraged to communicate through their attorneys. Traditional divorce is not designed to encourage amicable resolution. It’s about scoring a win and not letting up any ground.
The opposite is true with divorce mediation. Both spouses must agree that cooperation is the only way that a third party mediator can usher in an agreement that each party can live with. Couples who choose mediation can communicate amicably with the same end goals in mind - a better post divorce future for both of them.
A few of the factors affecting the length of time of mediation are outside of your control. Ending a 20 year union will inevitably be more complicated than dissolving a two year marriage. We’re also not encouraging you to cast off your earthly possessions in an attempt to simplify property division.
However, you can prepare yourself for the financial analysis involved and look for ways to improve the communication between you and your soon-to-be ex.
As far as communication, make sure you find the time to talk with your soon-to-be ex about your shared goals BEFORE beginning mediation proceedings. Finally, we recommend familiarizing yourself with our divorce mediation process so you are ready for what each step requires. Preparation will help to expedite the divorce process.
Finally, you’re only a few clicks away from a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced mediators.
If you’ve ever Googled “What will divorce mediation cost?” chances are you’re still confused. You may see a cost of $150 per session but they don’t tell you how long a session lasts. You may see results like, “The entire divorce cost is $750…. depending on how their mediation proceeds.” How it proceeds? Does this mean if it gets especially contentious, the divorce mediation cost will reflect this? Or does it mean, give or take a few hundred or thousands depending on how long it takes and how unique your situation is.
Another estimation found online provides a range of $3,000-$8,000 for the entire process. While a range is a better way to account for the uniqueness of each divorcing couple's situation, two questions remain, what are you getting for your divorce mediation dollars and shouldn’t divorce mediators be more transparent?
Let’s address both questions below.
It depends on the individual or firm you hire. When you look at a divorce mediation website, look at the biographies and background of their staff. Are they Certified Divorce Financial Analysts? Do they have CDFA after their name?
If not, you may need to hire one separately so you have peace of mind that a complete financial analysis was done prior to deciding how you’ll split assets. If you own a business for example, are you confident that your divorce mediator, without a financial background, can fairly evaluate its worth?
Do they have experience with high conflict personalities? A tip off is if they have a certification or they have completed coursework in this area. Divorce mediation works best when both parties agree to mediate and not litigate, but it doesn’t mean you and your soon to be ex-spouse will be amicable throughout the process. Conflict can come up during this process so it’s best to have a team with the experience to handle it and help you two proceed to a resolution.
Does your divorce mediator or divorce mediation team have someone who supports, motivates, and guides people going through divorce to help them make the best possible decisions? If you are relying on friends or your therapist to fill this role, is that fair to your friends? Does your therapist only have your point of view?
If your divorce mediator is also a certified divorce coach - they have the tools, experience and training to support and guide you through the challenging maze of divorce related emotions.
If your divorce mediator just does divorce mediation, keep in mind you may need to expand your team and hire experts in financial matters and a divorce coach to specifically address those areas.
So back to dollars and cents. Divorce mediation cost should be considered in light of what roles they can fill.
At the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado our team is comprised of individuals with the following certifications: divorce coach, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and divorce mediator.
In addition, we’re no strangers to working with attorneys too. Our team has participated in hundreds of collaborative divorces each spouse has chosen a divorce mediator and an attorney for each spouse.
Absolutely. Transparency instills trust and that’s why we explain our costs on our website.
For instance, if your combined household income is less than 125,000 and your total assets are less than $1,000,000, our retainer is $5,000.
*Pricing structures can vary based on levels of conflict, parenting and financial issues encountered throughout the process. The initial consultation provides an accurate estimate for the cost of your case.
There are two ways to see if DRCC is a good fit for your divorce mediation needs. The first is to book a complimentary 20 minute phone consultation. Select the date and time that works for you and be prepared to relay your particular situation to our team.
Or, if you’re ready to dive deeper into the process, we’re available for an initial consultation. This initial divorce mediation consultation lasts 90 minutes and costs $250. If you decide to hire us for mediation, the initial consultation cost is applied to the cost of your case.
Confusion during divorce is normal but being confused about price is entirely avoidable.
In a traditional divorce there are four parties: the divorcing spouses are one and two respectively and their attorneys make four. Nowadays, it may take a village if you want to cover your financial, emotional and property related bases. When you think about your divorce, only a portion of the divorce is legal (because it is a legal process), the majority of your divorce is centered around finances, parental responsibilities and communication.
Divorces have evolved to take into account that divorce attorneys, experts in the law, are not financial experts. Rather, a new specialization, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst or CDFA, is held by financial professionals who can assist with your divorce.
Divorce is emotionally daunting and while you may be aware of individual and family counseling, do you know how a divorce coach works and why you might need them and a therapist?
When a couple divorces, the most valuable asset is usually their home. There is often a rush to sell it to be able to finance the purchase of separate homes. But not so fast. You need a realtor who understands the legal and tax aspects of the divorce process as it relates to real estate - someone with CREDS after their name. And, remember it is important to know how much of a home you can afford after divorce and what your cash flow will look like, so that selling and buying homes at the time of divorce will not end up being a costly mistake.
But before you start calling CREDS realtors, you’ll want to enlist the help of a Certified Financial Divorce Analyst, CDFA,and a Certified Divorce Lending Professional, CDLP, who can make sure your mortgage choice aligns with your long and short-term financial and investment goals, minimizes taxes, interest and maximizes cash flow.
That’s why in this blog, we’ll explain how you can build your divorce team. We’ll introduce you to divorce professionals with the experience and training to best help you during this taxiing time.
In reality, to avoid costly post-divorce conflicts, you only have one chance at getting your divorce done right! Surrounding yourself with the right team of professionals to assist with your divorce is a MUST. The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado believes that having different advisors on your team will enable you to get the best possible outcome.
There are three areas where CDFAs differ from other financial professionals: 1) Financial and tax expertise and strategy 2) Data Collection, Organization and Analysis, 3) Settlement Consultant, and 3) Ability to act as an expert witness if needed in court.
Finally, a CDFA can be called on to act as an expert witness if your divorce goes to court.
Source: CDFA page
2) Divorce Coaches
A divorce coach is a confidential, thinking partner. Their process begins where you are and enables you to create your path forward. They will guide you through the steps of divorce and unlike a therapist, a divorce coach is concerned about the practical to-dos of your divorce and making sure they’re done. Some divorce coaches have specializations based on their experience. The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado’s divorce coach, Suzanne Chambers-Yates, specializes in high conflict divorces and narcissists. Her background is in mediation and mental health.
While a relationship with a therapist or a divorce coach is predicated on trust and confidence, they help in different ways. Therapy focuses on the past, your family of origin and how you got to where you are. Coaching is future focused - where are you now and where you need to get to, or gaining clarity on where you are going. It is an action and goal oriented process. A divorce coach will help you manage the overwhelm.
A realtor with this designation will have CREDS after their name. They are trained in the legal and tax aspects of the divorce process as it relates to real estate. They learn obscure legal rulings, regulations and tax implications. This specific training allows them to help their divorcing clients take advantage of tax laws that are specific to selling a house in the divorce. Source
Other initials that indicate divorce related expertise:
Rather than one spouse engaging with a realtor, a realtor who is specialized in divorce works with both parties as a neutral advisor. CREDS, et. al realtors have completed courses on how to manage differing emotional states and high-tension situations and they act in a way to encourage both parties' opinions are considered.
A CDLP™ uses their knowledge and expertise to help the divorcing homeowner make a more informed decision regarding their home equity solutions and mortgage financing choices. A CDLP understands the connection between Divorce and Family Law, IRS Tax Rules, and mortgage financing strategies as it pertains to real estate and mortgage financing in a divorce situation. Source
At the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado, each member of our team is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. One of our team members is a Certified Divorce Coach, and two members of our team are divorce mediators. We work with CREDS certified realtors and mortgage lending professionals who have obtained the CDLP designation.
Consolidating your mediator, CDFA and divorce coach means you are getting more for your time and money and minimizes the number of professionals you’ll need to interview, and enabling you the best outcomes for your divorce, while preserving your assets and sanity! To see if our team is a good fit for your divorce needs, schedule a no strings attached 20 minute call with a member of our team today!
A “mature divorce” or gray divorce occurs when both parties are over the age of 60. You may hear ages like 50+ or 65 + but for the purposes of talking about Social Security and Medicare, 60+ applies to the information here. Gray divorces are increasing even as divorce rates are plummeting among Generation X and Millennials. In this blog, we discuss WHY later in life divorces are becoming more common and WHAT makes them uniquely challenging.
Census Bureau data from 2018 shows that 28% of the residents 65 and older in Denver, Colorado are divorced, the highest percentage of the 133 cities in a study done by Smart Asset. Now that we know Denver is leading the charge, why are we seeing so many gray divorces? First, if you are over 65, there is a higher chance that you are in a second marriage, with a divorce rate 2.5 times higher than first marriages. Secondly, according to the World Bank, life expectancy rates in the U.S. continue to rise, reaching 78 years of age compared to 76 years old in 2000. No one wants to be stuck in a marriage later in life when there's MORE life to live!
Other reasons for high later in life divorce rates is there is no longer a desire to stay together for the kids, what they once had in common has changed, they want to rediscover their sexuality, or one or both partners are experiencing health issues. Another reason given may be that women put a lot of importance on happiness, whereas men are more willing to put up with a less than ideal marriage.
Gray divorces can be tricky, so let's begin with the elephant in the room: Money
When you are 65+, you have a lot less time to rebuild your finances than a 35 year old divorcee would. Gray divorcees look to their retirement accounts as one of their most valuable assets.
They're on the table. Colorado is an equitable division state, meaning that marital property - all property acquired during the marriage, and marital appreciation on pre-marital property, is to be divided equitably. Equitably doesn’t mean equally. It means the court or mediator considers a variety of factors to come to a fair decision. Factors include the financial situation of each spouse, the ability of each person to earn income, the ages of the parties, and the duration of the marriage.
When dividing retirement accounts you’ll need to be aware of tax considerations (was the account funded with pre-tax or post-tax money?), vesting of employer matching contributions, and they may require special orders like a QDRO, Qualified Domestic Relations Order to divide them.
The money in a 401(k) plan is divided without regard for who actually contributed. Employer contributions, like the employee contributions, are divisible marital assets if made during the marriage.
Especially in a state like Colorado, with an extremely high cost of housing, it may be impossible to support two separate households on one retirement account. This could lead to a party, or both parties moving out of state, continuing to work past a planned retirement or reduce their standard of living.
While Colorado law prevents the spouse with employer based healthcare to remove the other spouse during the divorce process, Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-107 (4)(b)(I)(D) the other spouse should still look for replacement coverage. If you are covered through your spouse's workplace, you may be entitled to COBRA coverage. Here’s more information from us on health insurance post divorce.
Spousal maintenance, (the IRS calls it alimony), is considered to be a financial rehabilitation tool to make sure the earning or stay at home spouse does not become destitute after the marriage ends. Maintenance (or alimony) is also dependent on the amount of assets each party will have to rely upon financially post divorce, the health and employability of both spouses. The most common scenario for gray divorces is permanent spousal maintenance. It is not conditional upon the spouse receiving support to gain job skills or more education. Instead, it acknowledges that finding suitable employment is unlikely, such as the case with a 65 year old divorcee who hasn’t worked in many years. The health of the lower earning spouse is also extremely important as healthcare expenses increase with age. Terminating spousal maintenance in Colorado happens automatically when the supported spouse remarries or dies but doesn’t change when the paying spouse remarries.
Spousal support falls into the category of ‘cash flow’ when working through the financial components of a divorce, and while there are guideline statutes in Colorado, it is important to look beyond those guidelines and look at both party’s current and post-divorce financial situations.
While divorcing later in life carries with it many complexities that the under 50 age group isn’t faced with, it can be done successfully with the proper planning.
What About Long Term Care?
If it is foreseeable that one or both spouses will need long term care, in home care, transportation or modifications done to be able to remain in the home as they age, this should be brought up during mediation.
Social security - If you are going through a gray divorce, you need to consider the effect it will have on your Social Security benefits. The potential income stream through Social Security should be considered at the time of divorce, and you should understand the consequences of remarriage on your Social Security benefits. For instance:
Although the court cannot divide Social Security benefits at trial, parties in a gray divorce may qualify for benefits based on their spouse's earning history. This is common when one spouse earned significantly less income in their marriage than the other spouse. These benefits will generally end if the spouse receiving them remarries.
Under the Social Security laws, a former spouse is entitled to the greater of 100% of their own benefit or 50% of their former spouse’s benefit (the retired worker spouse still receives 100% of their benefit). To receive Social Security benefits based upon your former spouse's earnings record, the following criteria must be met:
The actual payment to the lesser-earning spouse is an amount from that spouse's personal benefit plus a portion of benefits based on their former spouse's record to reach the higher amount.
If one of the former spouses dies, the other may be entitled to survivor benefits (also called death benefits) if your marriage lasted longer than ten years, you are currently unmarried, and aged 60 + (or aged 50 if disabled)
To collect spousal (and former spousal) Social Security benefits, the lesser-earning spouse does not have to wait for their former spouse to apply for Social Security benefits if they have been divorced for at least two years.
Delayed retirement credits (an increase in Social Security benefits if you delay retirement past full retirement age) are not included in Social Security benefits based on the record of the former spouse. However, if you have reached retirement age and are qualified to receive your former spouse's benefit, you may elect to receive only the former spouse benefit and delay your own retirement and receipt of benefits. A retirement delay could allow your personal benefits to catch up to or surpass the spousal benefits you are receiving.
Medicare is a federal program of health insurance for people age 65 and over (generally). The benefits are individual and uniform, unlike Social Security.
Medicare benefits begin when the beneficiary turns 65 and gets Medicare Part A (hospitalization coverage), which has no premium, and is eligible to receive Medicare Part B (doctors, labs and outpatient services), which does have a premium that is indexed for inflation each year.
People who are still employed beyond age 65, and who are covered by their employer’s insurance (together with their spouses), can elect to NOT sign up for Part B, thus avoiding paying the premium without incurring a late sign up penalty. If an employee retires or otherwise loses employer coverage, the employee (and his or her over 65 year-old spouse) MUST sign up for Medicare Part B within 63 days of losing coverage, even if the employee is offered COBRA benefits. Failure to do so incurs a Medicare penalty for late sign up that is both expensive and permanent.
Many people who turn 65 and are not covered by a company sponsored retirement health plan can buy a Medicare Supplement (or Medigap) policy to make up for Medicare shortfalls. If a divorcing couple has a company (or government) sponsored retirement health plan (which essentially acts as a Medicare Supplement plan), the plan itself has its own rules about whether or not a divorced spouse can be covered, and whether it covers the surviving spouse or the surviving former spouse of the actual retiree. Bottom line: check with your company’s human resources department.
Remember, your will and powers of attorney become null and void at the time of divorce. It is crucial to redo your will, update your powers of attorney, for both health care and finances, to a trusted friend, family member or an adult child, or an institutional provider.
Gray divorces and all the moving pieces can be complicated! And, because the clock continues to wind down at that stage of life, mistakes are too costly! But with guidance from a qualified financial divorce mediator or attorney, issues regarding retirement, healthcare, and Social Security are clarified for you. If you are contemplating a gray divorce, receive a complimentary consultation by scheduling a 20 minute call with one of our divorce mediators. Or call us at 303-468-5626 to find out more.