Preventing Contentious Family Law Issues

Most people do not consider needing a Colorado family law attorney until something goes wrong—one party wants a divorce, one party objects to spousal maintenance, parents cannot agree on how to share custody of their children, etc.  However, you can consult with a family law attorney as a means to prevent contentious situations that cost a lot of money and cause immeasurable emotional stress.

Reasons for Divorce

The most common reason for retaining a Colorado family attorney is divorce, and the reasons leading couples to pursue legal separation or divorce are varied.  In general, there are three main reasons couples may decide to dissolve their marriage:

  • Infidelity
  • Abuse
  • Incompatibility

A number of factors may lead someone to be unfaithful or conclude that he/she is not compatible with his/her spouse.  Research has identified a number of risk factors, which include:

  1. Lack of commitment
  2. Insecurity, jealousy, lack of trust
  3. Lack of communication and/or using arguing as the primary means of communication
  4. Finances, differing values about asset management
  5. Getting married at an early age
  6. Religious/cultural differences

When a relationship deteriorates to the point that couples rarely exchange civil words and/or one spouse cheats on the other, divorce proceedings are usually highly emotionally charged.  Divorce is often seen as a way to get back at the other spouse.  Unfortunately, children often get put in the middle, as one parent may retaliate by interfering with visitation.

Preventing Acrimonious Divorce Proceedings

By the time a couple decides to pursue divorce, there is little a Colorado family law attorney can do to prevent contentious proceedings.  Lawyers are not counselors, so they cannot provide emotional support to help the parties involved accept and peaceably move through the divorce process.  At best, lawyers can use channels to help parties amicably determine asset division and child custody arrangements without going to trial (i.e. mediation and arbitration).

However, for couples preparing for marriage or planning a family, a Colorado family law attorney can provide legal counsel and services that can help the couple strengthen their relationship and minimize disputes in the event of separation.

Prenuptial Agreements

Many people view prenuptial agreements as preparations for a divorce, not a marriage.  In reality, however, it can help people prepare for marriage by requiring them to talk about one of the issues that cause conflicts in most marriages—money.

A prenuptial agreement is designed to protect the financial assets each party brings to the marriage.  Because parties must fully disclose all the assets they are bringing to the marriage, some parties discover their partners have assets they were unaware of.  If the “hidden” assets were merely an oversight, parties may continue an open, honest discussion of how they will use, handle and/or divide the property during the marriage and in the event of separation.  If it comes to light that hiding assets was intentional, parties may discover a need to seek counseling to resolve underlying issues that may compromise trust and commitment.

If divorce does become a reality, a prenuptial agreement allows each party to leave the marriage with their own assets intact, providing some immediate financial stability.  Prenups also protect individuals from debts their spouses brought to the marriage.  Because a significant part of asset division is already outlined in a prenuptial agreement, divorce proceedings may be simplified, focusing only on dividing property acquired during the marriage.

Parenting Agreements

Changing values and financial concerns contribute to changes in family structure.  Some committed couples may decide not to marry but share a household and start a family together.  Unfortunately, without a state-recognized marriage, in the event of separation, some (biological) parents may also be without state-recognized parenting rights.

Couples who elect not to marry can prevent custody and visitation complications in the event of separation by developing a legal parenting agreement (i.e. allocation of parental responsibilities) at any time during their relationship.  With a parenting agreement in place, both parents are recognized by the Court as parties with whom it is in the child(ren)’s best interests to maintain a relationship with.

Prepare for the Future

Colorado family law attorney Gordon N. Shayne can help you plan for a successful future.  With more than ten years of practice dedicated to family law, Mr. Shayne is familiar with Colorado family law statutes and processes.  He provides honest counsel to help you protect your assets, protect yourself from a spouse’s debt and protect your child(ren)’s best interests.  Mr. Shayne is also knowledgeable about issues unique to military families.  Contact the Law Office of Gordon N. Shayne for experienced family law counsel.


Disclaimer: The blogs posted on ShayneLaw.com are offered for informational purposes only.   These blogs are not a solicitation for legal business and should not be construed as providing any legal advice or legal opinions as to any specific fact or circumstance.   Specific legal issues, concerns and conditions always require the advice of an appropriate legal professional.   To obtain legal advice or opinions about Colorado family law, personally consult with a licensed Colorado attorney.

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