With filing for divorce, timing can mean everything

In one sense, timing and divorce refer to the moment you, your ex, or both of you realized that your marriage could not be saved. From a legal perspective, timing is about when you actually file for divorce.

Remember, though filing is the first official step in the divorce process, in reality, it is not the first thing you have to do. For many divorcing couples in Colorado, the filing is actually one of the last things they do because they negotiated a settlement first. Having worked out how to divide their marital assets, share child custody, handle child and spousal support and so on, all that is left is to file for divorce, submit the settlement and get approval from the family court judge.

This is not always the way it happens, but you may have a choice of when to file. Filing as soon as possible or waiting until later in the year can have various advantages and disadvantages. This is especially true after an economically tumultuous 2020 (and, so far, 2021).

Stopping the marital property clock

Almost all income and assets acquired during your marriage are considered marital property. Under Colorado divorce law, marital property belongs to both spouses and must be divided equitably. But any asset a person acquires after they or their spouse files for divorce belongs to that person alone. If you or your ex expects a big windfall later this year, that could affect your filing strategy.

Was your 2020 income the same as in 2019?

Things like child support and spousal support are determined in part by the paying spouse’s income on their most recent tax returns. If you have not filed returns yet this year, that could mean the court will use your 2019 returns. But if you lost your job in the recession or had to take a lower-paying one, the income listed on your 2019 returns would be misleading. The court could order you to pay more support than you can afford.

Doing what is best for your family

Finally, we cannot forget the emotional impact of divorce. After a 2020 that was difficult and stressful for so many, you may want to consider if filing for divorce now is best for yourself or your children.

For more information about timing your divorce filing, consult a divorce attorney.