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You’ve decided to pursue divorce mediation. For a host of reasons, we support your decision. Mediation is designed to preserve both parties post-divorce futures AND peace of mind. Now that you’ve decided on the HOW, it’s time to decide WHO will be your mediator. The choices are either an attorney with mediation experience or a non-attorney mediator. In this blog we discuss five reasons why a non-attorney divorce mediator may be the best choice. 

1. Non-Attorney divorce mediators have unique backgrounds, expertise and broad experience

The first reason to consider a divorce mediator who is not an attorney is that they have unique backgrounds, expertise, and broad experience. Compare this to many attorneys who have only worked in the legal field and are recent converts to mediation. In law school and for many years post-graduation, their mindset was win or lose and how to be an advocate for one party. Compare this to non-attorney mediators who often become mediators based on their understanding of human psychology and the importance they place on compromise, as well as their ability to hold both party’s needs in equal space. 

2. Nonlawyer divorce mediators are focused on reaching agreement

The second reason that a non-attorney divorce mediator may be a better fit for your needs is that their perspective is focused on gaining consensus which is usually a skill that lawyers have to be taught. In a law practice, their success was dependent on whether their side was winning or losing, not if the eventual outcome would be beneficial or fair to two parties. 

3. Non-Attorney divorce mediators welcome collaboration with other divorce experts

Third, non-attorney mediators are more willing to bring in other experts who provide a service to divorcing couples rather than try to be all things to all people. Attorney mediators are already juggling a lot by shifting from advocacy to cooperation but many also try to be the one stop shop for emotional and financial issues. Non attorney mediators value collaboration and cooperation, and are more willing to bring in experts in these areas.  

4. Nonlawyer divorce mediators use creative solutions to conflict

The fourth reason that a mediator who is not also an attorney might be a better fit is that they have more experience coming up with creative solutions. Attorneys, even those trained in mediation techniques, values logic, rules and precedent. But divorce can be illogical and rules meaningless to couples. Non-attorney mediators aren’t constrained and are able to craft outcomes that both parties can live with. 

5. Non-Attorney divorce mediators have more reasonable rates

The final reason selecting a mediator who is not also an attorney is dollars and cents. Many non-attorney mediators, such as DRCC, offer a la carte services and payment options based on a set number of sessions. Most attorneys bill for mediation the same as they would as an attorney – by the hour. There is more transparency and accountability when you are charged by outcome vs. when you are being billed for someone else’s time. 

Divorce mediation is a unique profession independent from law. Many outstanding mediators come from non legal backgrounds.  They bring unique perspectives and experience that benefits divorcing couples. Their emphasis on collaboration and creativity leads to peaceful solutions. The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado offers a 90 minute initial consultation. If you choose to hire us, the cost is applied to any future balance. Please book your consult here or schedule a complimentary 20 minute call.

You and your spouse have agreed to divorce but not on how to get there. You want divorce mediation but they remain unconvinced that it is the best choice. How do you move forward with the divorce? 

The answer depends on WHY they are hesitant about mediation, IF they can be transparent and WHETHER they are willing to compromise. 

We’ll explore each of these factors and provide advice based on your answers to the questions below. 

Why Are They Hesitant About Mediation?

Scenario 1: They’re unfamiliar with the process. 

Scenario 2: They’re angry and don’t want to do what you’ve selected. Angry people want to win and hurt the other person in the process.  

Scenario 3: They want a DIY divorce to save money paying a mediator or an attorney. 

Scenario 1: They’re unfamiliar with the process. 

It is actually pretty common to be unfamiliar with divorce mediation. After all, we’ve grown up on a TV diet where we’re served images of hard-nosed attorneys going head to head, saying things like “Not on my watch” and “We’re going to make them pay!” and we resign to the fact that divorce attorneys exist for a reason. If you didn’t need them, why would they even practice that kind of law, right? 

There are many ways to familiarize someone with divorce mediation. One way is to find a friend or friend of a friend who has used a divorce mediator and ask them if they’d be willing to talk about their experience.  Another way is to ask your spouse to call a divorce mediator who offers a free consultation and come prepared with questions. You can also learn a lot by reading articles and watching videos. We’ve written about the different divorce options in Colorado and have videos about divorce mediation that can help. 

Divorce Mediation Overview

The 50,000 foot view is this: Divorce mediation works when spouses can work well together. Each spouse agrees to fully disclose their finances and work towards an agreement about property, parenting plans and what they want their post-divorce lives to look like. Your mediator is a neutral, third party who helps both of you come to consensus and stay out of the courts and avoid costly legal battles. Divorce mediation may also involve financial experts, therapists and divorce coaches. At DRCC, our team members hold the following titles: CDFA, Certified Divorce Financial Analysts, Psychotherapist, Mediator and Divorce Coach. We’ve got you covered!

Scenario 2: They’re angry and want an attorney.

To them, an attorney = they come out ahead. After all, divorce attorneys charge $350-$600/hour so they will work hard to make sure your spouse prevails. In a scenario like this, you and your soon to be ex may need to work with a therapist, together or separately or both to help resolve these feelings before proceeding with the divorce. This is not about “striking while the iron is hot” but “waiting until cooler heads prevail.” Angry people don’t make the best decisions and hiring an expensive attorney and dragging your personal affairs into a courtroom will = more conflict which = more money spent.

One exception is if the spouse who is angry is also abusive. Divorce mediation is not suited to a dynamic where one party has and wants to exert control. A collaborative divorce or traditional divorce would better serve you both. 

Scenario 3: They think they can DIY divorce.

Blame it on Pinterest or HGTV, but many people think they can cobble together a table, so why not a divorce? A DIY divorce CAN work if you do not have any children and few assets. Filing your own divorce CAN work for cooperative parties who have come to a consensus about what to do about x, y, and z; and their only difficulty is navigating the paperwork.

We have worked with couples whose situation seemed suited to a DIY divorce but later issues arose and they needed a third party to flesh out issues and make the agreements enforceable.

Hiring an attorney is not only costly due to their high hourly rate but also because of the length of the average Colorado divorce of 6-12 months, and that’s if you don't go to court. The DRCC works with couples who are motivated to complete the process in a limited number of mediation sessions. When you schedule your initial consultation and ultimately decide to hire us, we can apply the cost of the initial consultation to your account. 

Our divorce mediation services are designed for couples who want peaceful resolutions and value transparency. If this describes your situation, divorce mediation may be the best pathway to your post-divorce life.  Remember, the marriage may be over but the family goes on!

Have you ever heard, “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine?” or “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own?” Although stated differently, the result is that one person prevails and the other is left holding the bag. Thankfully, Colorado law has a less juvenile way to determine separate and marital property. 

This blog examines marital and separate property in Colorado and what happens when separate property is commingled with marital property. We examine Social Security, retirement accounts and gifts acquired during marriage. 

What Is Marital Property in Colorado?

Marital property is legally defined as “any property which either spouse acquires during their marriage, except for property acquired by gift, inheritance or property excluded by a prenuptial agreement,” See § 14-10-113(2), C.R.S.

The practical application is that marital property is subject to division, either by the courts or as agreed to in mediation. In Colorado, marital property must be divided equitably. Note that equitable does not mean “equal” division – it means “fair” division. 

To do this, a mediator or a judge will take into account the separate property each spouse owns when determining how to equitably divide the marital property. If one spouse owned an apartment complex before the marriage and rents it out and the other spouse only has a 15 year old car as their separate property, this would be one factor when a judge or mediator weighs in on how to divvy up the marital property. 

Other factors are each spouse’s earning capacity, their health issues, and who will have primary parenting responsibilities. 

What is Separate Property in Colorado? 

Separate property is property that acquired before marriage and treated as separate during the marriage. Treating it separately means you opened an account or invested in an asset where you are the only owner, and it is not commingled with other money or assets that are jointly owned. The main question is whether you retained the separate character of the property or gift during the marriage? Did you make deposits into this account during your marriage? Were these deposits your paycheck only? Is the property deeded to you? Are you the accountholder of the bank account? 

If you can show that your actions kept it separate, the property will be deemed separate and not subject to division. However, any appreciation on the separate property from the date of acquisition to the date of divorce is considered marital and goes into the marital pot to be divided.

What if We Commingled Our Separate Property? 

Think about it like this. You have your own separate property. But if you use it to buy something that benefits your marriage – you’ve commingled the two and it is now subject to equitable division.

A few common examples of commingling property:

-You inherit money and deposit that money into a joint account with your spouse, the inheritance becomes marital property.

- If you have an investment account or start an investment account and both spouse’s incomes contribute to the account, the funds in that account become marital property.

- If a relative dies and leaves you $50,000, and you use that money to pay down the mortgage on the home you both live in, that “gift” transforms into marital property. You may try to argue that the $50,000 was meant to be a gift only to you, but unless your soon-to-be ex feels generous, they still get their half of it.  Bottom line, if you wanted to keep it characterized as a gift, you should have deposited it into a new separate bank account in your name only. There are many other waysto avoid commingling that you should look at before making any purchase. 

Are Retirement Accounts Separate Property? 

Contrary to popular belief, no. If the account was created, added to or increased in value during the marriage, it is considered marital property, either completely or in part, and subject to division.

Are Social Security Benefits Separate Property? 

Yes. Colorado law says Social Security benefits are not subject to division, nor can they be offset by providing your spouse with a greater portion of the marital property. But there’s an exception. If the marriage has lasted 10 years or more and the claimant spouse is 62 or older, the former spouse can receive benefits on the claimant spouse’s record.

This makes sense when you consider that you’ve been paying into Social Security since you began working and the Social Security Act, § 407 specifically, prohibits the assignment of Social Security benefits in any other legal process. In 1975, Congress amended the Act to include § 659, which incorporates a narrow exception to the anti-assignment provision to enforce legal obligations to provide child support or alimony. 

We have established marital and separate property and how each is treated depending on the circumstances. Whether your property division occurs inside the courtroom walls, an attorney’s office, or with a mediator, the same ground rules apply. 

The Certified Divorce Financial Analysts at the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado are uniquely suited to assist divorcing couples. We are here to learn more about your unique situation during a 20 min exploratory call that you can schedule here

In this final installment, we cover preparing for the divorce process.

Attitude is everything when it comes to divorce

First, adopt the right mindset. The more open minded and prepared you are, the more smoothly your divorce will go. Get clear on your priorities post divorce and if at any time,you waiver or are unsure of how to continue, your priorities will help guide you to the post divorce life you envisioned.

Pick the best divorce team

Secondly, assemble the right divorce team. A DIY bookcase assembly is one thing and a DIY divorce is a whole other thing entirely. Divorce professionals include mediators, mortgage lenders, Certified Divorce Real Estate Experts aka CDREs, therapists, divorce coaches, attorneys, tax professionals and Certified Divorce Financial Planners or CDFPs. Divorce professionals know how to cut through the noise and keep the process moving smoothy.

Interview divorce professionals using the following questions:

  1. How do you work with other divorce professionals? Do you already have partnerships in place?
  2. When I email or call, how soon can I expect a response?
  3. May I call some of your references?
  4. How should I prepare for meetings?
  5. Is there anything I can do to keep my costs down?
  6. What is included in the cost of your services?

Seeking a divorce professional with a compatible personality is important since it shapes the kind of interaction they have with your spouse and other divorce professionals. If you bring in a strong arm attorney, they will approach your divorce in a combative, reactive way. If your goal is a peaceful resolution, select a mediator who shares this goal.

Your team also extends to family and friends who are supportive and want to help you through this difficult transition. There is nothing weak about reaching out for help. Like Barbara Streisand sang, "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world."

When assembling your divorce team, consider calling on mediators and certified divorce financial planners (CDFPs) early to help you sort out your finances while keeping in mind your desire to minimize conflict. After all, while the marriage has ended, the FAMILY continues.

Assess Your Finances

Now that you have your mindset and your "team" in place, choose the divorce option that aligns with your priorities and preserves your assets. It is important to bring about the end the marriage but with a focus on rebuilding your life.

To rebuild financially, you need to take inventory. As a general rule, save logins and passwords, download as many documents as you can find to a flash drive, keep 3-6 months of pay stubs, two years of tax returns, and your most recent retirement and investment account statements.

Order a copy of your credit report. You may be surprised at what it reveals. You may order a FREE copy at annualcreditreport.com

Finally, remember the 4 C's from The ABC’s of Divorce for Women by Ginita Wall and Carol Ann Wilson.

Careful - You are making decisions during divorce that have long lasting consequences. Proceed carefully by asking questions, getting clarification and relying on a team of divorce professionals.

Cognizant - It is easy to want to bury your head in the sand during stressful life transitions, but you need to keep yourself open minded and clear headed during divorce.

Centered - In addition to self-care, being centered means that you are focused on what your post divorce life will look like. Don't allow a petty argument over a household item to derail your mindset.

Courageous - Many spouses, in an effort to lower stress or make their children happy, put their priorities and needs on the back burner. Resist the urge to "go with the flow" and advocate for yourself.

As a reminder, in "The Devil's in the Divorce Details" we have covered:

Click on any of the above segments to view the video and associated blog post.

If you, or someone you know, is contemplating divorce, please share these articles with them. To book a complimentary 20 minute phone call with one of our divorce experts, book here.

For Important Divorce Documents, Complete the Form Below!

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Forms include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.

In this blog post we discuss "how" to tell your kids about divorce, “when” is the best time to tell them, and “what” to say.

Stu Webb, author of “The Collaborative Way to Divorce: The Revolutionary Method that Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs, and Happier Kids, Without Going to Court” wrote that “even under the best circumstances divorce is fraught with emotions but what is most important is how parents conduct themselves during divorce.”    

Rosalind Sedacca, CDC and founder of Child Centered Divorce is an expert divorce and parenting coach. She has dedicated her professional life to helping parents navigate divorce with the best interests of their children front and center. Through her in person or virtual sessions, e-books and other resources, she has been a great resource for our clients and divorcing families beyond the Denver metro area. 

We asked Rosalind the following questions to get a better idea of the how, when and what to say to your children about divorce.  

Question: How do I cope with the tears, anger and pain that my children will feel? 

Help them put what they are feeling into words and validate those words and let them know that you hear what they are saying and that you understand they’re sad/angry/hurt/confused. Ask follow up questions like, if you’re sad, do you need a little alone time? Or do you want to meet up with a friend? Don’t leave it open ended and say something like, “I know you’re sad, so what should we do about that?” Give them choices so they have control over how they will manage their feelings as they will likely feel a loss of control over what is happening between you and your spouse. 

Question: Should each parent try talking to the kids? 

No, it is imperative to have both parents present when you talk to your children about your divorce. 

Question: Why is it so important to project calm when talking to your children? 

Your attitude is everything and if you come off as anxious, stressed and upset, it is likely your children will sense that and even mimic it. David Code, who wrote the book Kids Pick Up On Everything: How Parental Stress Is Toxic To Kids, has made a career of pulling together the evidence from a handful of labs around the world, which have suggested that parents’ levels of chronic stress can seriously impact a child’s development.

Question: What kinds of messages do kids need to hear from divorcing parents? 

1) "This is not your fault." This is usually an issue for children 7 years old and under. During their early learning years most of their unpleasant experiences were their fault. "Don't touch" Don't hit" etc. They were learning acceptable behavior and the focus was on what they had done wrong. So it is natural to for them to blame themselves for the turmoil in the family.

2) You are and will be safe. Children crave reassurance and even if the word divorce is something they’re familiar with, they need to understand that it won’t place them in any kind of unsafe situation. Especially with young children, change must be approached gingerly as they are very used to “the way things are”

3) We will always be your parents even if we’re not married to each other. 

4) We will always love you even though the love between us has changed. It may help to distinguish between the kind of love between partners and the love children have for their parents. 

5) We are still a family beyond divorce. At the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado, we recognize that while the marriage ends, the family bonds remain. Divorcing couples trust us to create a post divorce reality that respects these wishes. 

6) We’re working together to move through the divorce process and you can talk to both of us. 

You might need to reiterate the themes more than once, especially for younger children. 

Question: What do I tell them when they start asking 100 questions? 

You don't need to know all the details about who will spend which days with which parent, it’s not about digging into the details at this point, it is about making sure they understand the bigger picture. 

Even with older children, you still want to let them know you hear them and that their feelings are valid. 

It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. 

Remember that co-parenting will last for a lifetime. 

Question: Does divorce talk depend on the child’s age? 

Yes. A great resource that is age specific can be found here.  

Question: When is the best time to tell the child(ren) that we’re getting divorced? 

When you are both on the same page about doing what’s best for the children. You can’t tell them if one spouse doesn’t have respect for the other spouse’s role as parent. If one spouse is angry and unreasonable, the two of you should work on these issues before you can have the conversation with your children.  

Peaceful solutions are possible when you and your soon to be ex-spouse agree to put your personal feelings aside. This is tricky territory for parents and we recommend seeking a divorce coach like Rosalind Sedacca or the Divorce Resource Centre’s divorce coach, Suzanne Chambers Yates to help you approach these emotional issues with the clarity and focus they demand. To discuss divorce coaching services, or mediation in general, call 303-468-5626 or schedule a complimentary consultation

For Important Divorce Documents, Complete the Form Below!

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Forms include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.

In part 2 of "Attaining Financial Independence," we cover "All Things Credit" including:

Let's discuss the scenario where one party wants to remain in the home, but they are the spouse who earns less.

Can the spouse staying in the home refinance? Should they assume the mortgage?

According to Michelle Oddo of Oddo Group, a lending expert with 25 years experience, get advice from a lender as soon possible. The quicker you sort out housing, the easier it will be to address other divorce issues. It's hard to worry about anything else if you don't know where you, or your children, will sleep.

A lending professional determines if the spouse who wants to stay in the marital home has enough income or expected child and spousal support to sustain the mortgage. For conventional loans, a spouse would need to prove six months of income or support to be refinanced. If it is a FHA or VA mortgage loan, the spouse will only need to show three months of expected support payments to continue for three years.

If the spouse does not have the income or support payments, and it's a conventional loan, Oddo recommends refinancing since mortgage rates are still low and conventional loans are not assumable.

What about a spouse with less than stellar credit? What can they do to quickly play catch-up?

Michelle Oddo recommends a secured credit card. Even one with a low limit of $300, used to pay recurring charges can quickly help either build or repair credit.

What about a low FICO score or a blemished credit report? How can one party rehab these?

Ms. Oddo warns spouses in this situation to be wary of paying off the balances and closing the cards. As soon as they are closed, you lose that credit history. If you end up wanting to secure another loan post divorce, it is better to have a credit history rather than none at all.

When a client's credit situation is overly complicated and beyond the advice of a lending professional, the Oddo group can refer you to a trusted credit repair company that has assisted their clients.

What about when one spouse has student loan debt? How does that affect their debt to income ratio?

Ms. Oddo: It all depends on the kind of payment plan they have selected and whether Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae loans are involved. Typical payment plans are income based and conventional student loans. Those with an income based payment have a higher debt to income ratio since it takes them longer to pay down the principal on the loan. If a party is in deferment on their student loans, i.e. not making any payments at all, their debt to income ratio is likely too high to support a creditor letting them open up a line of credit in their name and they would need a co-signer.

What about credit and debit cards?

Credit and debit cards are used in nearly identical ways. However, there are some significant differences you need to understand.

When you spend with a credit card, you are spending borrowed money!  Sometimes people use credit cards for monthly purchases or to take advantage of points or rewards. Be sure to pay credit cards off in full each month so that fees aren’t incurred.  Don't leave small balances on credit cards that build up over time and carry interest charges. 

Debit cards are tied directly to your checking account.  If you don’t have the funds to cover the deduction and don’t have overdraft protection, the charge is declined and you are charged a hefty fee.  With overdraft protection, the bank honors the deduction and you pay interest to the bank.

One of the most significant differences between the two is the liability limit for fraudulent transactions. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, with a credit card, you have no or minimal liability for unauthorized charges, and have recourse if what you purchased was damaged or not delivered.

With a debit card, however, your liability depends largely when you report the unauthorized charges to your bank.  The worst case scenario is if you do not discover the fraudulent charges for more than 60 days after receiving the statement showing the activity, you could be held responsible for all charges after the 60 days.  Even IF you do alert the bank within the 60 day period, you could still be responsible for up to $500. This is why it's important to periodically check your credit card charges online even before the statement is issued online or sent snail mail.

Speak with the financial professionals at DRCC

The Certified Divorce Financial Analysts at the Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado are trained to recognize and help divorcing spouses prepare for the financial realities of divorce and plan their futures. It only takes a 20 minute exploratory call to find out more.

For Important Divorce Documents, Complete the Form Below!

* indicates required

             

Forms include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.

As Certified Divorce Financial Analysts who work with divorcing couples, we see many spouses who want to bury their heads in the sand even when their post divorce financial reality is staring them in the face. We believe that when you face your finances clear eyed and informed, with a forward facing plan, you can not only gain confidence but work towards financial independence post divorce.

Financial independence is when you have enough financial resources to pay your living expenses without being dependent on someone else or being employed. We recognize financial independence might seem like an audacious goal but it is possible with the right resources and commitment. You can gain the knowledge and lay the framework during and after your divorce.

Financial independence is NOT financial literacy. Financial literacy is the ability to understand and effectively apply various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting, and investing. Investopedia

In this blog we cover:

  1. The importance of creating, implementing and monitoring your spending plan. Notice we didn't say budget. A spending plan has a more positive connotation that a belt-tightening budget.
  2. Choosing between a bank, online or brick and mortar and credit union or traditional bank.
  3. What you need to know about checking and savings accounts.

Create Your Spending Plan

Before you head off on a road trip, you need to check the gas tank, right? One of the most important rules, and we can't stress this enough, is to PAY YOURSELF FIRST by contributing to your savings each month. If you don't look out for your future and instead pay all other expenses first, you might not have enough money to "make your trip."

Understand what your net take home pay is and how much your fixed, variable and discretionary expenses are. Fixed expenses are the same amount every time they're due and variable can change depending on usage, think utilities or water for instance.

As far as discretionary expenses go, if it's not groceries, rent or mortgage and utilities, it's essentially discretionary. A discretionary expense is something you can absolutely live without. For examples and a sample worksheet, see here.

Once you understand how much money you have coming in and going out, you are ready to implement a spending plan. A spending plan includes inputting your net income, your expenses and carves out what you can set aside to reach your goal. Your goal does not have to be financial independence, but without a goal, you are essentially monitoring inputs and outputs with the only "goal" of not being in debt. We want more for you and you should want that for yourself. Check out some other worthy financial goals.

Monitor Your Expenses

Goodbye to adding machines, reams of receipt paper and spending late nights at your kitchen table and welcome to smart phone apps. It's important to find the one that works best for your lifestyle so be prepared to try more than one. The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado recommends YNAB.com, Mint, Quicken and Pocketguard.com. YNAB stands for "You Need a Budget," Mint.com is a widely popular and intuitive app, Quicken has more bells and whistles and integrates with your business and Pocketguard.com is like a watchdog always looking to save you money.

Your online banking platform may divide your expenses up into categories but there is a usually a lot of manual work on the user's end to ensure that it's an accurate representation of where your money is going. The choice is yours to use an app, or your bank or both, but the important part is to keep track regardless.

Choosing a Bank, Credit Union or Online Banking Option

Traditional big bank options in the Denver Metro Area include Wells Fargo, Chase, and 1st Bank. The benefits of a big bank are the number of locations and ATMs and that they are usually first adopters when it comes to online banking features like Zelle and online bill pay. Credit unions are nonprofit member-owned version of a banks that, rather than pay their Presidents and CEOs outrageous salaries, return the profits in the form of lower rates to their members. Online only banking options we recommend include ally.com and capitalone360.com. To help you evaluate online banks, click here.

We understand concerns about the online safety of financial information, but with precautions, banking online is not only safe and convenient but can also save you headaches during and after a divorce. As long as you set up strong passwords that do not include any personal identifying information, store this information in a place only you can access, you are banking smarter and safer. You will only have to log on and not wait on hold to talk to a human, or a robot screener, when you have a question or an issue. It also means that your hardcopy financial statements don't end up at your home when you've moved to a new residence during the divorce.

Checking and Savings Accounts

Watch out for overdraft protection no matter what financial institution you choose. While having it can help when you've overdrawn your account, there's no such thing as a free lunch and many banks' overdraft fees will make you feel like you paid for a steak dinner with a bottle of wine.

When it comes to savings accounts, there are many to choose from. However, for our purposes, we're focused on deposit savings accounts and money market savings accounts. The main difference is that money market accounts may earn a higher interest rate since they are funded differently than deposit savings accounts. But this is not always true so check the fine print and shop around.

The FDIC, aka Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, insures all bank accounts up to $250,000. Note that this is per accountant not per customer so if you're a high roller, be sure to split your money into various accounts.

Final Financial Tips

Our parting tips to face your financial fears head on include:

1) Just like in college or high school when you had an assignment or paper to complete, make sure your environment is set up in a way that invites calm. If you need to light a candle, play some light music or reward yourself with a glass of wine afterwards, cozy up with your statements and get clear on your priorities.

2) Break up tasks that seem overwhelming into three manageable parts. When you complete one part, you become more confident and able to handle the entire process.

The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado will give you the tools to take control and gain confidence in your post divorce financial reality. We take a deep dive into your finances, the tax implications of divorce and provide a cash flow analysis to clients. Call us at 303 468-5626 or schedule a time to talk that works with your schedule.

For Important Divorce Documents, Complete the Form Below!

* indicates required

Documents include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.

In this post, we cover the divorce options in Colorado. Your choice include a do-it-yourself or DIY divorce, divorce mediation, a collaborative divorce and traditional divorce involving an attorney,

Option 1: Do it Yourself Divorce

The first option is a DIY or do it yourself divorce. You may also hear “pro se” or “kitchen table divorce.” This kind of divorce requires that you download and file the divorce forms yourself. The cost is $250 plus the time it takes to complete the documents.  A DIY divorce is best suited to marriages that were short in duration, where the couple owns few assets and has no children. 

The advantages are that you can keep your privacy, only the fact that you’re divorced becomes public knowledge, while any details remain between the parties. The other obvious advantage is affordability when compared to a traditional divorce that can cost between $10,000-$30,000. 

The disadvantages of a DIY divorce, if things go south, will negate the cost benefit.  If either party misses something or complete the forms incorrectly, one or both of you will incur costs trying to fix mistakes. Or, if one party fails to uphold promises made in the divorce documents, they are not legally binding so you cannot use the courts or an attorney to enforce the issue. In a DIY divorce you can hire a divorce or family law attorney to review your documents at a rate that varies between $150-$250/hr.  The cost to review would be a limited scope legal service. Look for attorneys who offer “unbundled services” as they complete tasks on an a la carte basis. Another drawback of a DIY marriage is that the forms fail to take into account what a post divorce financial reality will look like. 

Option 2: Divorce Mediation 

The second divorce option in Colorado is divorce mediation. Divorce mediation occurs when both parties agree that the marriage is over and they are committed to coming to an agreement. Both parties are free to consult with an attorney but the mediator is the one who works to bring the parties to a consensus to ensure a post divorce peace can be achieved. Divorce mediators come from a variety of backgrounds. In Colorado, they don’t have to pass a test or have a certification to be in business. Look for a mediator with experience, both in the number of mediations they have performed but also consider their background in family law, psychology or financial expertise. If you’re lucky, your mediation team will bring all of these elements to the table. The mediator works to ensure the settlement agreement is based on the family’s sense of fairness. 

The advantages of divorce mediation are affordability, privacy, less stress and your ability to control the outcome. The cost of divorce mediation ranges between 5,000-10,000. Settlement agreements remain private, as do the particulars of said agreements. Contested divorces or divorces that become contentious and lead both parties to seek their own attorneys are stressful for the children as one side seeks to eek out a win against the other. Having control over the direction of your divorce correlates to less animosity. After all, you were a participant, so if you objected to something, you had the opportunity to do so in mediation. 

The disadvantages of divorce mediation occur when you select a mediator who does not do their due diligence or is inexperienced. If one party has agreed to mediate but has a very difficult personality, seek a mediator who has experience with conflict resolution or dealing with difficult people. 

Option 3: Collaborative Divorce

The third divorce option is the collaborative divorce model. Deb Johnson of Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado and other divorce professionals helped pioneer this approach in Colorado twenty years ago. Collaborative divorce includes a team of four professionals. The first two are collaboratively trained attorneys chosen by each spouse. You will want to search for “attorneys in Colorado and collaborative law” The third team member is a financial professional with experience dividing assets, calculating future earnings and knowledge of divorce tax implications. The fourth team member is the mediator. The collaborative divorce process is needs based vs. the adversarial approach of a traditional divorce. There is full financial disclosure by both parties as the team works to gather, organize and manage the needs of both parties. 

On the plus side, a collaborative approach is bringing together the most expertise to the process than a traditional divorce. In a traditional legal model you have the parties, an attorney and possibly a judge. Unless they are the rare exception, neither the judge nor attorneys are experts in the financial realities of divorce. A collaborative divorce is an option where there are tough issues involved but both parties realize that experts can help resolve some of the financial and emotional hurdles. 

The disadvantages of a collaborative approach is that it costs more than mediation and DIY. Estimates vary but 10-20k is a range depending on the issues and time required to resolve them. All four divorce professionals have varying rates and need to be compensated for their time and expertise, driving up the cost. The timeline is longer than DIY or divorce mediation so expect six months to a year to complete the collaborative process. 

At the onset, the attorneys and their clients sign an agreement that if collaborative divorce cannot be reached, everyone walks away and continues the divorce in a traditional or litigation model. This agreement operates as an incentive to continue to work collaboratively less you lose money and time. 

Option 4: A Traditional Divorce

The fourth way to become divorced in Colorado is via the traditional model. Despite the threat of a spouse saying, “I’ll see you in court.” more than 95%  of divorces don’t end up in courtroom but are settled outside of court. The traditional divorce model is the pathway when one party does not agree to divorce. The divorce is contested which rules out the ability to go with the other three options. 

Disadvantages of a traditional divorce

The disadvantages of a traditional divorce are numerous. There is the cost of retaining an expensive divorce attorney. There is the public reveal of the particulars of your divorce. All parties are subject (read: at the whim of) the timelines and schedules of attorney and judges. There is no collaboration but instead an atmosphere of win or lose, take or be taken. People who are not experts in psychology or finance are the final arbiters of settlement agreement, maintenance and parenting plans. The timeline to completion ranges from a minimum of six months to a few years. If one of the attorneys misses something or is inexperienced it will cost more to hire another attorney to fix the problem. The issues are prioritized by an attorney even if the divorce stays out of court and if it goes to court, the issues are further streamlined to ensure ONLY the most pressing ones are worthy of the court’s time.   

Advantage of a traditional divorce

The main advantage of a traditional divorce is when one or both parties is unlikely to cooperate or keep a promise, the heavy hand of the law will enforce any agreements. Some people need court enforced boundaries and calls to act properly. 

The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado employs certified divorce financial analysts, a psychologist and divorce coach. All of our mediators are well versed with the collaborative law approach and with working with difficult personalities. 

It’s important to know all of the divorce options available so you can make an informed and empowered choice that aligns with your family’s unique situation. In our complimentary 20-minute consultation, clients explain their situation and we can recommend ways to move forward.  We invite you to call us at (303) 468-5626 or schedule a time to talk. 

For Important Divorce Documents, Complete the Form Below!

* indicates required

Documents include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.

The second installment in our “Devil’s in the Divorce Details” series focuses on the crucial question, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Our work is to examine and help couples solve the emotional and financial questions that arise with divorce. Whereas an attorney is working on behalf of one party in an effort to win the best outcome for them, we want the best outcome for the entire family. Financial and emotional factors cannot be compartmentalized and if approached that way, it could lead to an undesirable outcome for one or both spouses.

For instance, you LOVE the marital home. You shed blood, sweat, tears and a few cuss words creating a garden, painting all the walls and converting your basement into a place to paint and be creative. Deciding whether to stay in the marital home is colored by these emotions and also the financial reality of whether you can afford all of the maintenance and upkeep. If you look only at the associated costs and decide to sell, you will lose the pride and security you feel in your current home. 

Two common objections to starting the divorce mediation process. 

1) I'm not ready to divorce yet

Only by asking questions can we determine that “unprepared” doesn’t mean that you don’t have your paperwork together, but that you’re not ready to deal with divorce emotionally. Or perhaps “unprepared” means you don’t know how to begin the conversation with your spouse. Divorce coaching can help with that. Acknowledge that usually “being ready” is a hurdle that you need to get clear about, and that there are divorce professionals if you need assistance.  

Maybe you go to your friends for divorce help first. When they hear you say, “I’m not ready” they could offer objective advice like, “Here are the documents you should gather to understand your finances” They are confused why you seem frozen in place and don’t want to wade into your sea of emotions. Maybe talking about that is uncomfortable, brings up issues in their own lives or they don’t want to feel like they’re taking sides. Even if they help you sort out the emotional issues, unless they are also a financial advisor, chances are they won’t be able to assist you with that. Your friend’s duty is to just that, to be a friend and you shouldn’t expect them to function as your advisor. 

I'm Scared to Have the Divorce Talk

“I’m just scared/worried” usually means you fear making the right decision. Is the fear personal or do you worry about your spouse’s reaction? Or are you reluctant to end the marriage because you think you should try harder to stay married? If it’s the latter, you may want to try counseling or find a new counselor. Understand that you, and ONLY you, know if you are making the right decision for YOUR life. 

What happens to the person who is “not ready? They bury their head in the sand and ignore the issue. Their health suffers and they continue living a half full life. 

What happens to the spouse who “scared?” They might make hasty decisions out of fear and experience unintended consequences.

Emotionally prepare for divorce

Our divorce coach, psychologist and certified mediator, Suzanne Chambers Yates has created an acronym BEYOND to help you move forward so you are emotionally prepared for divorce.

  1.  B - Breathe: Stopping and taking a breath reminds us that we are competent adults who have tackled many difficult situations in our lifetime.  It also reminds us that we need to engage our neocortex so our reptilian brain (fight/flight/freeze) doesn’t take over.
  2. E - Explore: Spend time exploring both paths (staying/divorce) and what your life might look like 5, and 10 years from now.  Think about barriers & reasons for staying & for divorcing.  What do you want for your life?
  3. Y - You: Your self-care.  This emotional juncture can be draining.  Make sure you are investing in your wellbeing on a daily basis.
  4. O - Organize: Organize your thoughts (write them down) so you can communicate them clearly as the need arises, organize a list of questions you have and information that you need.
  5. N - Necessary: Find the necessary, qualified professional who can answer your questions & provide you with the information that you need.  (CDFA, CDC, Attorney, therapist)
  6. D - Direction: Create a plan based on where you see yourself in the future. Break your plan down into doable steps.

For the second hurdle, not being financially prepared, it’s important to run through all the possible scenarios with a trusted, experienced financial advisor. DRCC's certified divorce financial analysts will scrutinize every area where money is concerned. 

What to Do with the Marital Home?

If you don’t want to give up the marital home, can you maintain it? Not only physically, but will you need to hire help or are you committed to doing it yourself? What stage are you at in life? Do you need to stay in a 2 story home with 4 bedrooms when it is just you? If the mortgage is much cheaper than moving to another single level residence, can you still afford all the associated costs like homeowner’s insurance?

Can You Keep Your Health Insurance After Divorce?

You won’t be able to stay on your ex-spouse’s health insurance so understand your options. Can you afford to get it on your own? Does your employer have a plan? 

Children under 18: Can you support your children without a second income when your parenting time is Monday through Friday and your spouse has them every other weekend? 

Divorce after 50:  Unlike couples that divorce in their early 30’s, you don’t have 25-30 years to rebuild and feel secure in your retirement. “Silver divorce” is more complicated at this stage in life because you don’t have the luxury of “waiting for the market to rebound.” 

Other Types of Insurance You Need to Think About Post Divorce

We mentioned homeowners but there’s also car, life and disability. Most life insurance policies are revocable, meaning the policy owner may change the beneficiary at any time. If your ex spouse will be contributing a majority of money to your children, do you have a backup plan if something happens to them and their new spouse becomes the beneficiary? 

DRCC’s owner Deb Johnson says that financial stress is one of the hardest types of stress to deal with. Her opinion is backed up by research. People with greater financial stress have more symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who aren’t financially stressed, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Anxiety, Coping and Stress. Source

Clients tell us that much of the ‘fear of the unknown’ is gone and they feel more empowered after they begin working with us. 

Ready to Take the Next Step?

The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado offers divorce financial analysis, divorce coaching and divorce mediation. Each family’s situation is unique and we offer two ways to take a step forward. The first is to schedule a complimentary 20 minute call or we can go into greater detail at our 90 minute initial consultation. Call 303 468-5626 to discuss.

For Important Divorce Documents, Complete the Form Below!

* indicates required

Documents include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.

Sharing the same square footage 24/7 can either bring couples closer together or exacerbate already existing problems that were simmering just below the surface. If you find yourself in the latter camp, how do you begin to even investigate your divorce options?

The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado is committed to helping families divorce peacefully, preserve their assets and create a stronger post divorce family. We're prepared to answer your questions, with or without a pandemic thrown into the mix.

Should I divorce during a global pandemic?

You're running through a litany of questions related to what divorce will mean for you, your spouse, your children and your finances. In light of the unstable economy, you may worry about how to survive on one salary or worse, none if you become, or were already furloughed or laid off.

Our wealth of experience has led us to two questions we believe spouses must answer before they call an attorney or seek the assistance of a divorce mediator.

We delve into these in much more depth in a separate blog post but they bear repeating here.

  1. Do you both want the divorce?
  2. Are you both peacefully and respectfully able to begin the divorce process?

If the answer to BOTH of these questions is a resounding yes, there is no reason you can't start the divorce process during COVID19.

If the answer to either question is unclear, we still recommend you consider what your post divorce life should look like. There's no harm in preparation that takes into account your guiding principles. For example, if you value stability in all matters, you intend for the children stay in their current home.

There is a lot of ground to cover in the divorce preparation process and that's how the role of a divorce coach came into being. We can't say it much better than the ABA, "divorce coaching is a flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, motivate, and guide people going through divorce to help them make the best possible decisions for their future" Luckily for us, and you, Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado's Suzanne Chambers Yates is a Certified Divorce Coach. 

Based on our experience, we created a divorce checklist on the bottom of our website's home page that encapsulates many of these pre-divorce considerations.

To get crystal clear about your priorities, write them out and be as specific as possible. If you wrote, "to have enough money to pay a mortgage or monthly rent" that makes sense, but have you considered whether your post divorce budget will include the money to continue your children's extra curricular activities?

We also recommend you complete an inventory of your valuable household items with the help of our Household Inventory Worksheet found at the bottom of this page.

The financial aspects of the divorce, which are just as important as the emotional, will be explored in two upcoming video segments on 5/22/20 and 5/29/20 on our page's Facebook Live.

Prepare how you will talk to your spouse and the children about divorce

Before you can answer the two questions above, you must have the tough conversation. Thinking through your "divorce talk" approach is crucial because it sets the tone for the entire divorce process. If you need advice on how to prepare, mediators and divorce coaches have the experience and are committed to a peaceful resolution. Compare this to an attorney who is ultimately concerned with the dissolution of the marriage and achieving the best outcome for the spouse who hired them.

As hard as it may be, you must be ready to listen to what your spouse wants. The conversation will be trying but it cannot be a monologue where you list out all the reasons your marriage should end.

We are available for a 20 minute complimentary phone consultation where we hear your specific situation and let you know about your divorce options.

We also offer a 90 minute session (in person or over video conference) with both parties to dive deeper into our holistic process and preview post divorce outcomes. You will walk away, or step away from your computer in the age of Zoom, being empowered and informed.

If you have other concerns, we can be reached at (303) 468-5626.

For Important Divorce Documents, Complete the Form Below!

* indicates required

Documents include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.

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At Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado, we have a team of seasoned Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFA) who provide a cost-effective, respectful mediation process that allows couples and families to rebuild a secure post-divorce future.
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