DIVORCE WALK THROUGH: THE BASICS
Each month, the Andersen Law PC blog will spell out the 12 steps of divorce.
The following is a roadmap with the basics for 12 steps of a divorce proceeding. The intent is to walk you through the process one simple step at a time.
(To see the process in a more personalized, real world context, follow the blogs on the Aingel and DeVille families: the Aingels relatively soaring through the process while the DeVilles crash and burn.)
To discuss your specific situation, feel free to call me at 720-922-3880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to walk you through your own next steps and to answer questions in your complimentary initial phone or videoconference consult.
Here is where the next several months will take us:
3 – sworn financial statement, disclosures, and parenting classes
4 – initial status conference
5 – discovery and depositions
6 – professionals: CFI, PRE, vocational evaluator, appraisals
7 – motions to compel and telephone conferences
8 – temporary orders
9 – mediation
10 – parenting plans and separation agreements
11 – witnesses, pretrial deadlines and permanent orders
12 – QDROs and other post decree issues
Step 3: HOW TO COMPLETE YOUR SWORN FINANCIAL STATEMENT, DISCLOSURES, AND PARENTING CLASSES
PREAMBLE AND WARNING: (NOTE: If you are the kind of person who would like to be on the hot seat for a status conference where the judge scolds you for not doing your disclosures, feel free to skip this Preamble and Warning.)
By divorcing, your spouse and you have invited the Colorado government and the courts in your county into the most private and precious aspects of your life.
Divorce is NOT something you want to drag out if you can avoid it.
My suggestion is that you complete the next three steps as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. You do not want to be the person missing deadlines and playing catch up. I have yet to see a case where the party who fell behind on these deadlines did not suffer for it in some way.
Get it done and get it done now.
Think of it as if you are studying for finals, preparing for a major business deadline, setting off to scale a mountain or training for an athletic event. Train hard and remember this too shall pass.
- Work on this five days a week or extra time on weekends.
- I suggest half an hour a day until it is done.
Good news if you are broke: You have less to do! (Well, unless you have 20 credit cards to track down.)Good news if you have some spare cash: You can pay someone to help you do this.
Just remember, ultimately someone needs to get all this information on the table. It is best, cheapest and fastest if that person is you. And that way YOU become the expert and the one ahead of the game. Do NOT wait for your spouse to do it. Just do it.
- DO A ROUGH DRAFT OF YOUR SWORN FINANCIAL STATEMENT
You need to complete two documents to get this done: the SWORN FINANCIAL STATEMENT (SFS) JDF 1111SC.
This form identifies separate property and other property such as investment and retirement accounts.
People often ask me if they need to fill out the SFS for just themselves or if they need to include their spouse too. The short answer is that you need to fill it out for just yourself and your kids who would be living with you. The exception is that when you are talking about assets and debt, you need to include your spouse/partner’s assets and debt.”
Here is a way to think about it: you want to know your BUDGET for your NEW HOUSEHOLD BY YOURSELF because that is how the court will see if anyone needs maintenance or child support. But you need to INVENTORY EVERYTHING from both parties to decide how to divide it up.”
- “For “SALARY” (support, stipends, etc.) AND “SPENDING” (what you are paid and pay, what you get in and give out, income and outgo, earnings and expenses, all money coming into your household and going out of your household, it is only the children and you “SEPARATELY” as a “SINGLE” mother “ STARTING” your new life. This is because you need to calculate your expenses and to see if your income will cover them going forward.
- “For everything you “OWN” and “OWE”— assets and debt, as “OURS: ONE and the OTHER” jointly or together “OVER” your lifetimes put both your husband and you in your “OLD” life (married life) which you are now dividing. He will be P for petitioner and you will be R for respondent and things owned together are J for joint. This is for the division of property and they need to look at everything in order to divide it.
As you may have guessed, it makes good sense to have an attorney look over the SFS before you file it. Remember, it is a sworn statement and you may be cross-examined about it.
COMPILE YOUR FINANCIALS
JDF 1125, the Mandatory Disclosure form is my FAVORITE FORM.
This form links in everything you need to provide as part of your mandatory disclosures:
- The SFS mentioned above
- Tax Returns for the last three years
- Personal financial statements, for example, loan applications
- Business financial statements for the past three years. You only need these if you have YOUR OWN business. If you never did this, time to hire a bookkeeper and get it done right! I can give great referrals for this.
- Real estate documents, including your lease, mortgage documents and closing documents
- Personal debt
- Employment benefits
- Retirement plans
- Bank and financial accounts
- Income documentation
- Child care documentation for child care related to work or education
- Insurance records
- Extraordinary children’s expenses such as regular medical or extracurricular expenses to be shared
Put these together. If you hit a roadblock and cannot get a document, explain why. This will help in following up later. For example, if you cannot get into the retirement account because the other party has the password, write this down. Ask for the password or at least a copy due to your inability to get into the account. You can also do this as part of Discovery or a Motion to Compel.
I strongly urge you to have a laptop, tablet or smartphone to access these documents regularly. Get online savvy. This will keep you in control of the critical data in divorce and make you the expert. You will use this later in mediation.
- UPDATE YOUR SFS
Now that you have all your documents together, use this information to update your SFS. If there is something you do not know, add “unknown.” This is early in the litigation and you will get more information over time.
Get the SFS notarized.
- SERVE FINANCIALS; SERVE AND FILE THE SFS AND CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE
The financials are served on the other party in person or by mail. Sometimes they will agree to email service but you must prove they agreed to this. This is NOT filed with the court. The court does not want to hold onto everyone’s financial information.
Be sure to keep an identical copy for yourself so you can prove what you gave the other person.
Once you served the financials on the other party, fill out the JDF 1104 Certificate of Compliance.
Serve the SFS and Certificate of Compliance (JDF 1111SC and JDF 1104) on the other party by mail or in person.
Then fill out the Certificate of Service and make yourself a copy. File the original SFS and Certificate of Compliance with the court. Make sure you get your copies stamped “filed” by the court to prove you filed it. Courts lose things. You need proof you filed the Response or it is their word against yours that you did. This advice goes for EVERY pleading you file.
Good job! By completing ALL your paperwork, one of the most burdensome pieces of the divorce process is behind you.
5. PARENTING CLASS
If you have minor children together, you need to take the Parenting After Divorce class. There is a list of classes on the website. You may attend the class online and in person. The Certificate of Completion of the parenting class must be obtained at the end of the class, served on the other person by hand or by mail (or email if they agree to this in writing) and filed with the court. This is required as part of the divorce.
Next month: Step Four – Initial Status Conference
If you need help getting through all the steps of your own divorce, contact Andersen Law PC today. Email email@example.com or call 720-922-3880.