Colorado has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), codified at C.R.S. 14-13-101, et seq. This law allows Colorado courts to register an out of state child custody determination. It is a simple process that requires a form that can be found on the judicial website, a filing fee, and certified copy of the child custody determination. If you have relocated to Colorado from out of state, it is important to register the applicable child custody order if you want Colorado courts to be able to quickly enforce the order. If you have questions about register an out-of-state order please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.
Once the out-of-state order has been registered in Colorado, Colorado Courts can modify the out of state order, if one of the following is true:
- Colorado is the child’s home state, which means the child has lived here with a parent or acting parent for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of a Colorado child custody action (or for the child’s life, if the child is less than six months old),
- Colorado was the child’s home state within six months prior to the filing of a custody action, and a parent/acting parent still lives in Colorado,
- No other state has jurisdiction, or the child’s home state has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the grounds that Colorado is a more convenient forum, and the child has a significant connection to Colorado,
- Colorado initially entered parenting orders (e.g. a Colorado divorce or paternity action), and either the child or one of the parents has lived in Colorado continuously since then, or
- Temporary emergency jurisdiction exists because the child is physically present in Colorado and has been abandoned or some other emergency, such as abuse, threatens the child.
Modifying an out of state order is a more complicated process, than registering an order, thus if you need an out-of-state order modified, particularly if it has not been registered in Colorado yet, you should consult an attorney before proceeding. The attorneys at Smith, Shellenberger, and Salazar, LLC would be happy to help you with that process.
Colorado is a “marital” property state, which means that all property acquired during your marriage is considered joint property of both spouses, regardless of who earned the money or made a purchase. C.R.S. 14-10-113. The only property that will be considered separate will be property acquired before the marriage and kept separate, not comingled or mixed with marital property. Separate property also includes things purchased with separate property, however increases in value during the marriage are considered marital property.
Once all marital property is identified, the court will divide the marital property equitably. This does not mean that the division will be exactly equal, the court will consider a number of factors when dividing property, including:
- each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition of marital property, including contributions as a homemaker,
- who receives the family home,
- increase or decrease in the value of a spouse’s separate property during the marriage,
- use of separate property to satisfy marital expenses or debts
- support awarded to one spouse
Debts acquired during the marriage are also marital property, regardless of who incurred the debt or for what purpose. Thus, keep in mind that your debts will also be divided equally unless they can be considered separate property. Separate debts are often difficult to determine. The court will determine whether the debt was acquired to benefit the marriage, for example educational loans can be joint debts if they were acquired during the marriage, and the spouse’s education benefited the marriage in increased income or other benefits. However, such a determination is often subjective. If you believe you or your spouse may have significant separate debts you should consult an attorney.
Also remember that you are not allowed to “dissipate,” in other words, hide or get rid of, marital property once one party has filed a divorce petition. This is extremely important because to attempt to hide or eliminate marital property during a divorce is violation of a court order and therefore grounds for contempt. While you likely won’t go to jail for such a violation, the judge will take it into consideration during the court’s division of property, and you are much less likely to receive a favorable result.
Property division issues are often a great place to start negotiating a settlement. However, just because dividing property can seem like a simple numbers calculation, does not mean that it is not helpful to have a lawyer. Lawyers can help you understand what you might be entitled to under the law. A lawyer can also help you assess the value of different property or hire a professional to do so. Perhaps most importantly, an attorney can help you negotiate the best terms for you or represent your economic interests in a final hearing. Contact our office today if you want to discuss property division issues with one of our attorneys.