Q&A with Family Law Attorney Joseph Brown

 

Attorney Joseph Brown

I think my spouse is hiding assets, how do I find what they have?

Hidden assets are a common concern for our clients. Fortunately, however, the laws in Colorado require mandatory financial disclosures. Both parties are required by to disclose all their assets as well as all their liabilities, regardless of where they are titled or held.

If, after reviewing your spouse’s mandatory disclosures, you believe that your spouse is still hiding assets, there are steps we can take.  For example, to the extent you have statements from the accounts that are not being disclosed, obviously we have the proof we need to catch your spouse red handed, and we can then subpoena the records and use that information in court to impeach your spouse during cross examination.

There are also additional discovery options we can use, such as interrogatories and document production requests. We can also take a deposition of your spouse to try to expose those hidden assets.

It is important not to lose track of the bottom line, though.  A cost benefit analysis can help put in perspective whether it is worth it to go through these additional steps.  Additional discovery can be time consuming and expensive, so it might end up costing more than the hidden assets are worth to try to track them down. In that case, it may be in your best interest not to go down this path, but there are certainly means within the Colorado rules of civil procedure and Colorado domestic relations law to discover hidden assets.

I want to move out of state. Am I allowed to do so without telling my spouse?

You are certainly allowed to move if you feel so inclined, but that answer becomes more complicated if kids are involved. You can move out state, but you cannot move out state and take your kids with you unless you have permission of the opposing party or a court order.

A court order allowing a spouse to relocate with the children out of state is not something you can just get immediately after filing a divorce. If the parties are unable to agree, the living arrangements of the children and the parenting time is a decision that will be made by the Judge at trial, often times with the involvement of expert witnesses who investigate and evaluate so they can make recommendations to the Court in the best interests of the children.

My spouse and I assumed we were common law married but now he is saying we are not, what do I do?

A lot of people think that if you have been together and lived together for 7 years without getting married, then you are now common law married. In Colorado, there is actually no threshold or time limit.

The standard in Colorado is whether you held yourselves out to the public as being married.  As attorneys, we will look for evidence of your common-law marriage by asking your employer, your family members, neighbors, friends, church community, etc – that is, the people that know you best and would be most likely to know whether you hold yourselves out to be husband and wife.  It is really your reputation in the community as to whether you hold yourselves out to be married rather than whether or not one party says so.

I have been tracking my spouse’s activity and he has been cheating on me. What should I do?

Infidelity is not illegal, but stalking people is. I would caution against going overboard “tracking your spouse’s activities” so you do not risk a protection order being filed against you and/or criminal charges being brought against you.  Ultimately, Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, so you do not need to be able to prove grounds for a divorce.  All that is required is for one party to allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken. There is no need to allege or prove infidelity or any other grounds for a divorce beyond that.  Simply file the paperwork to get the process started.