ActionA lawsuit or proceeding in a court of law.
AffadavitA written statement under oath.
AlimonyPayments made to a separated or divorced spouse as required by a divorce decree or separation agreement. In Colorado, it is not called alimony; it is only called spousal support or maintenance.
Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)Ways of making decisions and resolving disputes, other than litigation (contested hearings); includes Collaborative Practice, mediation, parenting coordination, arbitration, and neutral evaluation.
Like a divorce, an annulment is a court procedure that dissolves a marriage. But, unlike a divorce, an annulment treats the marriage as though it never happened. For some people, divorce carries a stigma, and they would prefer to have their marriage annulled. Others prefer an annulment because it may be easier to remarry in their church if they go through an annulment rather than a divorce. There are two types of annulment: civil annulment (by the state government) and religious annulment (by a church). The Court system can only grant civil annulment. Annulment is only available in very limited circumstances and is rare.Most annulments take place after marriages of a very short duration – a few weeks or months – so there are usually no assets or debts to divide, or children for whom custody, visitation, and child support are a concern. When a long-term marriage is annulled, however, most states have provisions for dividing property and debts, as well as determining child custody, child visitation, child support, and alimony. Children of an annulled marriage are not considered illegitimate.
AppealA legal action where the losing party requests that a higher court review the decision of a lower court.
AppearanceThis term refers to the party or the person representing the party in court. An attorney entry of appearance advises the court who will be representing the party, or the acknowledgment in open court by an attorney that they will be representing the party, so that the court can communicate with the attorney.
AssetsCash, property, and investments along with anything else that may be of value to an individual or a business.
Initial Status Conference or Case Management ConferenceAn opportunity to discuss issues and problems of a legal case. It is usually the first appearance in court by the parties and their attorneys after a complaint and answer are filed. See Divorce Process: Advance Case Review.
Causes of DivorceThere are many different and complex causes and reasons for divorce, each of them specific to each couple’s marital relationship, their individual experiences and personal issues. None of them may seem “common” to the people going through a divorce, of course, but many of the reasons recur enough to warrant the term. Divorce research reveals these facts:
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA)A member of the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts who specializes in the financial issues surrounding divorce. The role of the CDFA includes acting as an advisor to one part in a divorce, or as a neutral financial analyst for both parties.
Child and Family InvestigatorAlso called a CFI, this is either an attorney or mental health professional who has been trained to provide reports and recommendations to the Court regarding parenting time and/or decision making. The expense is capped by the state and can be shared by the parents or paid only by one parent. They will talk to the children and parents and other relevant people (teachers, counselors, doctors, etc). They will also visit the homes and see the child with the parents. After their investigation they will provide a report and recommendations to the court. See Parental Responsibilities Evaluator.
Child CustodyThis refers to rights regarding a child. This refers to rights regarding a child. In Colorado we do not have Child Custody, we have parenting time and decision making.
Child SpecialistAn experienced, licensed therapist with specific education and training in the expected behaviors, stages, challenges and tasks of the development of a child. They work with the child(ren) to address specific emotional and practical day-to-day needs as they relate to the divorce process. The Child Representative also helps in designing the parenting plans that specifically address the defined needs of the child(ren) as they go through the restructuring of the family.
Child SupportA set amount of money paid by one parent to help support their children after a divorce. The money is sometimes paid through a state agency to the other parent.
Child Support GuidelinesColorado has child support guidelines that must be followed in awarding child support. The guidelines contain a formula. There are only a few circumstances under which the court can set the amount of child support payments higher or lower than the guidelines.
Civil AnnulmentGrounds for civil annulment vary slightly from state to state. Generally, an annulment requires that at least one of the following reasons exists:
CoachSee Divorce Coach.
COBRAThe Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act or COBRA gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits under certain circumstances (including change in martial status) the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time. Circumstances can include voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan. Collaborative Attorney: An individual trained in the practice of Collaborative Law to aid couples in the dissolution (divorce) process. The attorney addresses the legal issues a couple faces in seeking a divorce. Through problem-solving negotiations, which avoid adversarial techniques or tactics, the attorney advises clients concerning applicable law and its effect on them and helps them draft agreements in the spirit of cooperation.
Collaborative DivorceSee Collaborative Practice; Collaborative Law. Collaborative Divorce is based on Collaborative Practice principles and the commitment to resolve all disputes out of court. The Collaborative Divorce team may include other professionals in addition to attorneys, such as coaches, child specialists and financial specialists.
Collaborative Divorce FacilitatorThe CDF is a neutral facilitator who performs a number of critical roles to help the process flow more smoothly. These include process management: coordinating all joint meetings; emotional management: creating a safe space for constructive conversation; communication coach: improving communication skills between the clients and among the team; and parenting facilitator: developing a parenting plan and preparing parties for co-parenting.
Collaborative Divorce ProfessionalsSee Collaborative Attorney; Financial Counselor; Financial Planner/Financial Advisor/Estate Planner; Child Specialist; Divorce Coach; Marriage and Family Therapist.
Collaborative Family LawSee Collaborative Law. Family Law is the area of law that deals with separation, divorce, child custody, and division of marital assets.
Collaborative LawCollaborative Law describes the legal component of Collaborative Practice, made up of the spouses or parties and their attorneys. It consists of two clients and their respective attorneys working together toward the sole goal of reaching an efficient, fair, comprehensive settlement of all issues. All negotiations take place in settlement meetings that both clients and both lawyers attend, along with other neutrals as is appropriate. The lawyers cannot go to court or threaten to go to court. Settlement is the only agenda. If either client goes to court, both collaborative lawyers are disqualified from further participation. Each client has built-in legal advice and advocacy during negotiations, and each lawyer’s job includes guiding the client toward reasonable resolutions. The legal advice is an integral part of the process, but all the decisions are made by the clients. The lawyers generally prepare and process all papers required for the divorce.
Collaborative MeetingThe Collaborative Process is conducted through a series of meetings with both parties and their Collaborative attorneys, coaches, child specialist, and financial professional(s). Meetings are intended to produce an honest exchange of information, the expression of needs and expectations, and the concern for the well-being of the children. Mutual problem solving, brainstorming and creativity are the products of these Collaborative meetings, which result in solutions and agreements. There are different ways clients can interact with the professionals working on their behalf. This versatility creates tremendous flexibility and creativity for maximum problem solving, solutions, and agreements in the Collaborative Process.
Collaborative PracticeA “no-court” process for resolving disputes respectfully. A non-adversarial approach, it employs specially trained lawyers with input by other professionals, to help the spouses negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement without using the court to decide any issues. In Collaborative Practice, core elements form the parties’ contractual commitments, which are to:
Collaborative ProcessThe Collaborative Process uses informal discussions and conferences attended by both parties and their attorneys (four-way meetings) to settle all issues. The Collaborative Process relies on an atmosphere of honesty, cooperation, integrity, and professionalism. It requires that both parties, with the assistance of their attorneys, provide all pertinent documents and information relating to the issues to be settled, and that they work together toward a shared resolution. In the event that experts are necessary, it encourages the use of jointly retained neutral experts.
Collaborative TeamA Collaborative team is the combination of professionals that the couple chooses to work with to resolve their dispute. It can be simply the couple and their Collaborative lawyers. In addition to Collaborative lawyers, the couple can choose to include a neutral financial professional (financial counselor), a divorce coach, a child specialist, or other specialists they believe would be helpful. The “Collaborative team” guides and supports the couple as problem-solvers, not as adversaries.
Common Law MarriageA common law marriage exists when two individuals who are free to marry agree to live together as spouses without any formal ceremony. To be married via this method, both spouses must have intended to be married. Only certain states recognize common law marriages. Colorado does recognize common law marriages.
ContemptFailure to follow a court order. One side can request the court determine the other party is in contempt by his or her actions and punish him or her.
Contested DivorceA contested divorce is one in which the spouses cannot come to an agreement on one or several issues related to the termination of their marriage. Where the partners cannot come to an agreement, even with the aid of their respective counsels, the couple must then take their issue(s) to a court to be decided.
Conventional DivorceIn a conventional divorce, parties rely upon the court system and judges to resolve their disputes. Unfortunately, in a conventional divorce spouses often come to view each other as adversaries, and the divorce may be a battleground. The resulting conflicts take an immense toll on emotions—especially the children’s feelings.
Custody BattleSee Parenting Time and Decision Making. When parents and/or legal guardians cannot agree on custody arrangements and guidelines, litigation ensues described as a “custody battle.” A custody battle exposes the child(ren) to the dispute and puts them in between their parents/guardians. The parties must consider why they are fighting for custody: is it fighting for custody or fighting so that the other spouse doesn’t have custody? Is it in the best interest of the child(ren)?
If proceeding in a custody battle or dispute, here’s what to expect when the court intervenes:
Date of SeparationThis is the complete and final break in the marriage, a parting of the ways with no intention to continue the marriage. Evidence setting the date of separation can include one spouse moving out of the marital home.
Decision MakingParents can have either joint or sole decision making on any of the following subjects: Education, medical, extracurricular, religious. Parents can have joint decision making on some issues and one can have sole decision making on other issues. They can also share all joint decision making or only have one sole decision maker. Decision making refers to extraordinary issues, not routine daily occurances. See Parenting Coordinator, Decision Maker.
Decision MakerThis is a person appointed by agreement of the parties to make decisions when the two parents cannot make a decision together. The Decision Maker (also called a DM) will often try to help the parents reach a resolution together and only make a final decision if the parents cannot agree. This is often coupled with a parenting coordinator. When that is the case, it is called a PC/DM.
DefaultA party’s failure to answer a complaint, motion, or petition. In a divorce or legal separation, a default may be taken when a party fails to file a response within 30 days of service.
Deferred CompensationThis includes all retirement assets (such as a pension, 401K, Individual Retirement Account) and any other savings or postponed income earned during the marriage.
DiscoveryThe efforts of one party to a lawsuit and his or her attorneys to obtain information before a trial. This can occur through demands for production of documents, depositions of parties and potential witnesses (questions usually asked and answered in person and recorded), written interrogatories (questions and answers written under oath), written requests for admissions of fact, and the petitions and motions employed to enforce discovery rights. The theory of broad rights of discovery is to ensure all parties will go to trial with as much knowledge as possible, and neither party should be able to keep secrets from the other (except for constitutional protection against self-incrimination). Discovery or fight between the two sides in a litigated divorce takes place during discovery. This can become detailed, time consuming and costly.
DissolutionMeaning “to end” or “dissolve.” Often used interchangeably with the word “divorce” as in “dissolution of marriage.” See Divorce.
DivorceDivorce is a legislatively created, judicially administered process that legally terminates a marriage no longer considered viable by one or both of the spouses. Divorce is also known as dissolution of marriage. Traditionally, divorce was fault-based. Colorado is a no-fault state. Either party may ask for a divorce, and the court will not accept testimony as to who is at fault for the end of the marriage.
Divorce CoachA divorce coach is a skilled professional, trained to manage a wide variety of emotions and issues that arise during divorce. Collaborative Divorce coaches are all licensed mental health professionals (for example, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists). Each coach is experienced in the area of divorce and each coach receives specialized training in Collaborative Divorce and the Collaborative process. Divorce coaching is not legal advice and not therapy. Divorce coaching is not about placing blame, finding fault or dealing with the past.
Divorce CounselingSee Divorce Support.
See Family Court.Divorce Court
Divorce DecreeA court’s formal order granting a termination of marriage.
Divorce FilingA divorce starts with state-specific divorce papers or forms. If the spouses can agree on the terms of divorce, including grounds for divorce, division of marital property, etc., they may be able to expedite the process by filing a formal settlement agreement with the court. If they cannot agree on some or all of the terms of the divorce, then they will have to file the appropriate documents with the court so that a hearing can be held to resolve the issues.
Divorce Law(s)Divorce (or Dissolution of Marriage) is primarily governed by state-specific divorce laws. What may be applicable in one state may not be in another, so it is imperative to focus on the divorce laws in the governing state where the divorce is filed. Divorce laws tend to be similar from one state to the next governing spousal support, child custody, and property division, but issues like filing procedures, document titles, child support, divorce grounds, and residency requirements can vary tremendously.
Divorce LawyerSee Family Law Attorney.
Divorce LitigationLitigation is a legal term meaning “carrying out a lawsuit.” The word litigation comes from the Latin word “litigatus” meaning “to dispute, quarrel, strive.” In a divorce, litigation can be destructive to the parties and their children.
The advantages of Collaborative Practice over traditional divorce litigation include:
Divorce OrderFinal order made by a court in a divorce case. On taking effect, a divorce order legally ends a marriage.
Divorce OrderSee Divorce Process.
The actual divorce process is controlled by the participants. Many people don’t realize that not all divorces must end in a contested courtroom proceeding. Generally, once a couple has embarked on a contested divorce process, the types of proceedings from state to state are similar, but not identical. It is important for the couple to consult with a lawyer in the state where they reside about the specific process. The length of a case may depend on the state and county the case is filed in. It can depend on how crowded the court docket is, which can delay the start of divorce litigation a year or more. The divorce process may include the following stages: Jurisdiction, Summons and Petition, Response, Initial Status Conference, Temporary Hearings, Mediation, Co-Parenting Classes, Discovery, Experts, Settlement, Settlement Conference/PreTrial, Trial.
- Temporary custody
- Temporary support and/or maintenance
- Where the parties will reside pending the resolution of the case
- Protection from harassment and domestic violence
- Injunctions against financial improprieties
- Use of assets
- Custody evaluators
- Financial planners to determine future economic circumstances
- Business evaluators to value businesses
- Real estate appraisers to value real estate
- Personal property appraiser to value furnishings and other assets (generally an auctioneer experienced in home goods)
- Vocational evaluator to determine earning capacity
- Psychologists to testify to mental health issues
Divorce RecoveryRecovering from a divorce and the ending of a close relationship is not easy. There is an adjustment process after a divorce; and there are many resources available to help along the way. See Divorce Support.
Divorce RightsDivorce rights involve many aspects of the divorce process and can vary from state to state. Divorce rights primarily involve each party’s right to divorce, to property distribution and child custody rights. Divorce rights have changed significantly throughout history and are still in flux today. Divorce rights are often best protected and maximized with the help of a trained professional family law attorney. These experts can help people discover what their divorce rights are based on their specific circumstances and the laws that govern divorce in their state of residence.
Divorce SupportDivorce is one of life’s most difficult experiences. To find help and healing for the hurt of separation and divorce, sources of support include:
Divorce TherapistSee Marriage and Family Therapist.
Divorce VisitationSee Child Visitation. Click here to Return to Top
Effects of DivorceThe effects of divorce can change virtually every aspect of people’s lives, including where they live, with whom they live, their standard of living, their emotional happiness, their assets and liabilities, time spent with children and other family, and so much more. Some effects of divorce can be positive, such as ending an unhappy or even abusive relationship. Other effects of divorce can be detrimental to personal well-being.
Effects of Divorce on ChildrenDivorce affects children differently, depending on their gender, age and stage of development. Their world, their security and their stability seems to fall apart when their parents divorce. Following are universal responses that researchers have found among children of divorce.
Family CourtA legal court convened to decide matters and make orders in relation to family law, such as termination of marriage and custody of children.
Family LawAn area of the law dealing with family-related issues and domestic relations including, but not limited to:
Family Law AttorneyA lawyer practicing in the area of Family Law.
FilingGiving the court clerk your legal papers and paying court filing fees.
Financial CounselorThis professional acts as a neutral party who assists both spouses in gathering all the financial information about the couple or family in a supportive and nurturing environment. Each client is encouraged to assist in financial disclosure and documentation of the income, expenses, assets, and debts of the family. The essential shift is from a data focus to a system focus, whereby the financial counselor listens and then helps the clients understand the overall picture created by their particular family`s financial situation. The knowledge gained by the clients through the data collection and documentation can aid each partner in achieving the financial settlement he/she desires.
Financial Planner/Financial Advisor/Estate PlannerCertified professionals who work in the field of accounting, financial planning, insurance, or investments. They advise clients on how to invest their money to get the best return on their dollar based on their own tolerance for risk. They can facilitate retirement planning, long-term financial investment and life insurance needs.
Four-way Meeting(s)The Collaborative Process is conducted through a series of four-way meetings with both parties and their Collaborative attorneys. The sessions are intended to produce an honest exchange of information and expression of needs and expectations. The well-being of any child(ren) is especially addressed. Mutual problem-solving by all the parties leads to the final divorce or marital settlement agreement. When additional professionals are added to the Collaborative Team, these sessions may become five-way or six-way meetings.
Guardian ad litemGuardians ad litem are occasionally appointed in divorce cases or in parenting time disputes to represent the interests of the minor children. The kinds of people appointed as a guardian ad litem vary by state, ranging from volunteers to social workers to attorneys to others with the appropriate qualifications. The two divorcing parents are usually responsible for paying the fees of the guardian ad litem, even though the guardian ad litem is not responsible to them at all. In some states, the county government pays the fee of that attorney. The guardian ad litem`s only job is to represent the minor children’s best interests.
Home StateThe state where a child or children of the marriage lived with a parent for at least six months before a child custody, support, or visitation action was filed in court.
Innocent Spouse RulesThe IRS rules protecting one spouse from the other spouse’s tax fraud or tax-related misconduct. This is a defense that can be raised with the IRS against the tax liability on a joint tax return if the spouse did not know about the income and it would be unfair to hold the unaware spouse liable.
Interest-Based NegotiationAlso called “interest-based bargaining” or “win-win bargaining,” interest-based negotiation is a negotiation strategy in which parties collaborate to find a “win-win” solution to their dispute. This strategy focuses on developing mutually beneficial agreements based on the interests of the disputants. Interests include the needs, desires, concerns, and fears important to each side. Interest-based negotiation is important because it usually produces more satisfactory outcomes for the parties involved than does positional bargaining.
Irreconcilable DifferencesThe legal grounds for no-fault divorces.
Irretrievable BreakdownThe legal grounds for no-fault divorces.
JudgmentA court’s decision.
JurisdictionThe authority given to a court to try cases and rule on legal matters within a particular geographic area and/or a certain type of legal cases. It is vital to determine before a lawsuit is filed which court has jurisdiction. In Colorado, you must be a resident for a three months in the state before filing for a dissolution of marriage (divorce). If there are children, they must have resided in the state for six months before filing an action.
Legal SeparationA legal process, which allows spouses to live separate and apart while remaining legally married. A legal separation results when the parties separate and a court rules on the division of property, alimony (spousal support), child support, custody and visitation but does not grant a divorce. This is not very common. There are situations where spouses don’t want to divorce for religious, financial, or personal reasons, but do want the certainty of a court order declaring they are legally separated, and addresses all the same issues that would be decided in a divorce.
Maintenance Spousal SupportAlso called “alimony” and “spousal support,” this term refers to money paid to one spouse by another to help the lesser-earning spouse maintain a certain standard of living. Maintenance is most common in situations where one spouse makes considerably more than the other.
Marital PropertyIncludes most property acquired during the marriage, even if it is not titled as joint, or community property. It is any property acquired during the marriage by the skill or talent of either party.
Marital Settlement AgreementA Marital Settlement Agreement is a written document that outlines the divorcing spouses’ rights and agreements regarding property, support and children. All forms are signed by both spouses and witnessed by a notary public. The issues that must be resolved by the spouses and outlined in the Marital Settlement Agreement include:
Marriage and Family TherapistA licensed mental health professional (Marriage and Family Therapist, Psychologist or Social Worker) trained in the assessment and treatment of emotional, personality and or relationship difficulties. The therapist may function to help a person move through the transitions of the divorce process. A therapist can help individuals when they are facing emotions that may be overwhelming and interfering with day-to-day functioning. The therapist may also assist a client dealing with underlying core issues that are being triggered and surfacing due to being in the dissolution process.
MediationA method of resolving disputes, in which a trained, neutral person (the mediator) helps the parties work out the solution for themselves. The mediator cannot give either party legal advice or be an advocate for either side. If there are lawyers for each party, they may or may not be present at the mediation sessions, but if they are not present, then the parties can consult them between mediation sessions. When there is an agreement, the mediator may prepare a draft of the settlement terms for review and editing by both parties and their lawyers. If mediation doesn’t result in a settlement, the parties may choose to use their counsel in litigation, if this is what they and their lawyers have agreed.
MediatorA neutral, impartial person who is trained in negotiation, conflict resolution and communication skills. The mediator does not represent any party or take sides, nor does he/she act as an attorney, judge, coach or therapist. He/she explains the mediation process to the parties, and assists divorcing couples to clarify issues, concerns, interests, needs and values. The mediator brings in and works with various professionals as needs arise.
Military DivorceMilitary divorce is defined as a divorce where one of the parties (the “service member”) is active duty military, reserve or guard, or retired military. This is not a “legal” term that is recognized within the context of the law, but a lay term used to describe a divorce where one of the parties is a service member (regardless of the member`s status). Being a service couple does not exempt the parties from the same requirements that civilian couples must meet when filing for divorce. However, military service creates unique issues when it comes to divorce because certain rules apply in military divorces that are different from civilian divorces. Among the differences are:
Military divorces are governed by a combination of federal and state law. Military pension and certain emergency child support orders are dictated by federal law. State laws dictate the handling of all other matters pertaining to a military divorce.
MotionA formal request to the court, usually made to a judge for an order or judgment. Motions are made in court all the time for many purposes: to continue (postpone) a trial to a later date, to get a modification of an order, for temporary child support, for a judgment, for dismissal of the opposing party’s case, for a rehearing, for sanctions (payment of the moving party’s costs or attorney’s fees), or for dozens of other purposes. Most motions require a written petition, a written brief of legal reasons for granting the motion (often called “points and authorities”), written notice to the attorney for the opposing party and a hearing before a judge. However, during a trial or a hearing, an oral motion may be permitted.
No Court DivorceAlso called non-court divorce, or divorce without court, no court divorce refers to the Collaborative approach to divorce. See also Collaborative Divorce; Collaborative Practice; Collaborative Process. Rather than turning the decision-making power over to a judge, control of the outcome is kept with the people directly involved in the dispute. All of the parties consent in writing to be part of a respectful process that leads to an out-of-court resolution. The clients retain the power to create a resolution that fits their particular needs and priorities. The focus is on constructive problem-solving rather than adversarial bargaining and court-imposed solutions. Benefits of no court divorce (Collaborative Divorce):