Survive Divorce: A How-To Guide

By: Robinson & Henry, Attorneys At Law
PublishedJun 20, 2023
9 minute read

At Robinson & Henry, we understand that divorce is one of the most stressful events you’ll experience in your lifetime. Our knowledgeable family law attorneys are here to guide you through the process with compassion, sound advice, and a legal strategy that will put you in the best position possible to move forward in a positive way at the conclusion of your divorce.

We are a diverse team of lawyers armed with a broad range of legal specialties and experience. As your family law attorneys, we will be your trusted advisors, your strongest defense, and protect your best interests.

Topics to Explore

Get Clear About What You Want
Can I Get Full Custody?
The Alimony Factor
Do I Need an Attorney?
Choosing the Right Attorney
Narcissists, Private Investigators, Full Custody & More
Should I Hire a Private Eye?
How to Tell Your Kids
Your Emotional Wellbeing
5 Tips From Our Clients
How We’ve Helped Clients

Get Clear About What You Want

How Establishing a Goal Will Benefit You

People divorce for many reasons. Couples grow apart. Indiscretions occur. Domestic violence escalates. Addiction prevails. Right now you may be laser-focused on the “why.” But shifting your attention to the “what now” will benefit you in many ways. Determining your end game will let you set your sights on what’s ahead of you, instead of what you’re leaving in the past.

It will also:
  • help your attorney build a case that focuses on your objectives
  • allow you to prepare for your next chapter
  • serve as a motivational resource throughout the divorce

What Do You Hope to Achieve?

This question is perhaps the most critical one you will answer related to your divorce because it can affect the overall direction and outcome of your case. You may be thinking, “I want a divorce. That’s what I hope to achieve.”

Yes, of course, you do. But what more do you want from the divorce:
  • to find happiness?
  • have financial independence?
  • spend as much time as possible with your kids after the divorce?
  • wrap up the divorce quickly?
Here’s Why a Goal is Important

If being the primary parent is what you’re after, you and your lawyer will discuss what type of parenting time schedule is most appropriate for your children and what kind of argument you should make for it.

If you want financial independence, you and your attorney will devise a plan to help you obtain that in the settlement.

As you create a list of goals, think about:
  • on what issues are you unwilling to yield?
  • where will you compromise?

Can I Get Full Custody?

It depends. Colorado law requires courts to do what’s best for the child. Judges also prefer to see both parents enjoy equal time with their kiddo as long as the parent hasn’t been abusive or neglectful. Additionally, courts favor both parents having equal input into how they’ll raise their kids.

Full Custody Means…

full custody
Many parents say they want full custody when what they actually want is for their child to live with them most of the time. That’s much different than having full custody.

Joint Custody Means…

joint custody
Even in a joint custody arrangement where the child lives with one parent up to 100% of the time, the other parent can maintain their rights to see the child, make major decisions about their upbringing, and contribute to the child’s life in meaningful ways.
What Courts Consider Before Awarding Sole Custody
The child’s…
  • family relationships
  • physical and mental health
  • adjustment to home, school, community
The parent’s…
  • history of putting their kid’s needs first
  • physical and mental health
  • ability to foster love with the other parent

The Alimony Factor

Alimony exists to provide financial stability for an ex-spouse who may otherwise struggle to support themselves after the marriage ends.
Alimony is not meant to punish a spouse. Colorado is a no-fault state; so courts do not consider spousal misconduct, like cheating, to determine alimony.
The legal term for alimony in Colorado is spousal maintenance.

Factors that Affect Whether a Spouse Gets Alimony

A spouse’s financial need.
Are they self-sufficient? How much can they make? What has the lifestyle been? Do they care for small kids?
Length of the marriage.

Generally, the court only considers awarding alimony when a couple was married for at least 3 years.

How Payments Are Decided

Colorado lawmakers created alimony guidelines and a payment equation to help judges form a fair alimony award. For the most part, courts follow the guidelines, but they can deviate from them.

How an Attorney Can Influence Your Alimony Payment

Whether you expect to pay or receive it, an experienced divorce attorney will make sure you get a fair alimony amount.

Sometimes it can benefit both parties to create a contractual alimony agreement, rather than have the court decide. If that’s the case, you’ll want an attorney to be at the negotiation table with you.

R&H Alimony Calculator

Are you curious about whether you’ll get alimony, have to pay it, and, if so, how much? Find out with our alimony calculator. It uses the current state guidelines to predict payments. Click the icon to try it out!

Do I Need an Attorney?

Who May Not Need an Attorney
  • You’ve only been married a short time
  • You have few assets
  • You and your spouse don’t share kids

If these are true for you, a Do-It-Yourself divorce might work. Everyone else… we recommend you get a lawyer.

Signs You Need an Attorney
  • Your spouse has hired a lawyer
  • You have children together
  • There is a history of abuse
  • One of you is a high-income earner
  • You own a business
  • You hold numerous high-stake assets
  • Your spouse might be hiding money
  • Marital property has gone missing

If the circumstances between you and your spouse are especially volatile, we encourage you to seek out your own counsel.

How an Attorney Can Benefit You

Save You Money – An attorney will cost money upfront, but you can save money by accomplishing what you really want out of your divorce the first time. Modifying a divorce decree can be quite expensive, and many of our clients that need to modify their decrees were D-I-Yers.

Improve Case Efficiency – Divorce requires an enormous amount of paperwork. An attorney will ensure yours is filed correctly and submitted on time.

Reduce Your Stress – Divorce is one of the most stressful life events you will endure. Imagine having to manage the paperwork, deadlines, and advocate on your own behalf, too. An attorney will relieve these burdens so you can focus on what’s next.

Improve Your Case’s Timeline
When it comes to custody issues, an attorney can definitely change how long it takes for the case to resolve. Research by Custody X Change, a company that helps parents manage parenting time schedules, found that custody issues are wrapped up sooner when both parents have legal representation compared to one or neither parent having an attorney.
When both parents had attorneys the case resolved in six months. When one parent had an attorney, the case resolved in 12 months. When neither parent had an attorney the case lasted 7 months.
Have a Better Legal Process Experience
The Custody X Change’s study concluded that parents who hired a lawyer for their legal matter fared better than those who decided to tackle the custody issue on their own.
For those who had an attorney, 5 percent said their experience was terrible; 11 percent said their experience was poor; 31 percent said their experience was fine; 34 percent said their experience was good; and 15 percent said their experience was better than ever imagined.

Choosing the Right Attorney

Whether you’re relying on recommendations from family and friends or you’ve turned to the Internet to find a divorce attorney, there are a number of qualities you should look for to help you find someone suited for your case.

Focuses Exclusively on Family Law

You wouldn’t trust a podiatrist to operate on your heart. The same goes for your divorce. If you have children, you’ll want an attorney who has experience helping clients with child custody matters, such as arranging parenting time schedules.

Successful Negotiator & Proven Litigator

Colorado courts prefer divorcing couples to settle their issues at mediation, which is more cost-effective for you anyway. However, if your case is especially contentious and ends up before a judge, you’ll want an attorney who knows their way around the courtroom.

Works on a Team

Attorneys who are part of a larger firm have other lawyers they can turn to for additional perspectives as well as guidance when strategically planning your case. They also have support staff, like paralegals, to assist with other details, which will save you money.

Personally Involved & Committed to Your Case

Divorce is not a walk in the park. So you need someone you can trust. You’ll want a strong communicator – not only with you but with opposing counsel and the court. The right attorney will be dedicated to fighting for your best interests and achieving the best outcome possible.

Narcissists, Private Investigators, & More

What to Expect From a Narcissist

They may try to win you back.

Narcissists do not like to lose. Someone divorcing them is the ultimate loss. They may try to convince you they’ll change. But more often than not, they will return to their old ways. Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition that must be treated in order to improve.

They may try to turn people against you.

The narcissist wants people to think they’re a good person. If you haven’t seen them play the victim before, brace yourself. They may twist your words or reveal private things about you in an effort to look like they were wronged.

They will not give up

If they don’t try to win you back, they’ll turn their focus to winning in every way possible in the divorce. They will file endless motions to delay the process, test your resolve, and run up your legal bills. Nothing will be off limits in their pursuit to hurt you.

It’s Good to Know…
  • Mediation probably will not be an option because narcissists don’t like to compromise.
  • Keeping your communication to emails and text messages limits their lies.
  • Documenting when the children interact with their other parent can deter falsehoods.

Should I Hire a Private Eye?

A private investigator can be a useful tool depending on your goals and the information you’re seeking.

How a P. I. Can Benefit Your Divorce Case

Reveal substance abuse. A private detective can find out if your suspicions about illicit drug use or alcoholism are a real concern. Having this information can assist your case in getting a restraining order or limiting their interaction with the kids.

Discover marital waste. A P. I. can surveil your spouse for behavior that indicates marital waste, such as paying for extravagant dinners or taking expensive trips. Courts can punish spouses for frivolously spending marital money.

Prove parental dedication. If custody is an issue, a P.I. can find out how committed your spouse is to the kids. For example, is your spouse spending quality time with the kids – or do they get a sitter and go out partying?

Find hidden assets. Sometimes spouses try to get rid of or hide major assets in an effort to keep them for themselves after the divorce or so their spouse cannot get their fair share. A P.I. can find hidden bank accounts and track down other missing assets

Locate taken children and missing spouses. Parental abduction is a very real issue. Spouses who don’t want to share custody or are afraid of losing it may kidnap their own children. Private investigators are skilled in tracking down missing people.

How to Tell Your Kids

If you have kids, this may be the hardest part of the divorce. Most mental health professionals agree, though, it’s better to let them know than keep it secret.

Pick the Right Time

Tell them when they have a day or two to process the news. Weekends are a good time. Avoid holidays and school nights.

Break the News Together

If possible, you and your spouse should talk to your child(ren) about the divorce as a unit. They’ll find comfort in having this talk with both of you.

Be Honest & Age Appropriate

Teens and pre-teens understand more than kindergarteners, so you may need to prepare for separate discussions. Decide together what to say and how much you’ll reveal about specific details for the reason for the divorce.

Reassure Them

Regardless of their age, they need to know that they are loved. Let them know they’re not at fault for the divorce, nor are they responsible for trying to “fix” adult problems.

Other Ways to Help Them

Prepare Them for What’s Ahead

Kids thrive on routine, so it’s important to tell them what’s changing and what will remain the same.

They may be eager to know who they’ll live with, if they have to change schools, and if they can continue to participate in extracurricular activities.

Support and Validate Them

Keep an open door for questions and conversations, but don’t push.

Encourage Love

Make sure your kids know they don’t have to pick sides. They can love both parents.

Your Emotional Wellbeing

Divorce is emotionally, physically, and financially taxing. There’s an added layer of stress and worry if you have children. You need to take care of yourself now more than ever. Self-care doesn’t have to cost money. Check out these free ways to help you feel better:

  • journal your thoughts
  • lean on confidants; don’t self-isolate
  • meditate or pray
  • walk or jog to clear your mind
  • cry if you need to
  • practice gratitude

Remember, Self Care is Not Selfish

It’s OK to Say ‘No’ – Leave space on your calendar for doing things you love or nothing at all.

Limit Social Media – Resist the urge to compare your life to others. Instead, focus on activities that bring you joy and/or peace.

Avoid the ‘Divorce Diet’ – Remember to eat. Drink plenty of water – it will make you feel better.

Develop an Evening Routine – Quality rest is vital right now. Before bed, swap your phone for a book, and maybe consider hot tea instead of wine.

5 Tips From Our Clients

Beware of D-I-Y Divorce
Get an Attorney if You Have Kids

“If I could go back, I never would have done the divorce on my own. Less than a year after it was final, I had to hire a lawyer to fight for my parenting time. Robinson & Henry helped me get equal time with my kids, but it took the better part of a year. It was incredibly stressful, and it wasn’t cheap. If you’ve got kids, do yourself a favor and get a lawyer from the beginning. Don’t chance it. It definitely would have saved me a lot of heartache and money.” – Actual Robinson & Henry Client

Avoid Informal Agreements
Informal Custody Arrangements Cannot be Enforced

Our client did not have consistent parenting time due to an informal agreement, and the child’s mother wanted to move out of state. After going to court, our client received primary parenting time, but that expense may have been avoidable if a formal agreement had been in place. – Actual Robinson & Henry Client Experience

It’s Just Business
Keep Co-Parenting About the Kids

“Co-parent like it’s a business. Keep emotions in check and out of this part of the divorce.” – Actual Robinson & Henry Client

Get it in Writing
Avoid Discussing Major Issues Over the Phone

“Communicate through texts and emails. This will help with communication and recordkeeping.” – Actual Robinson & Henry Client

Watch Your Words
Keep Adult Conversations Out of Children’s Earshot

“Don’t discuss or involve the kids in the decision process.” – Actual Robinson & Henry Client

How We’ve Helped Clients

Saved Client’s Home in the Divorce
Our client risked losing the home they purchased before they got married.

The spouses disagreed about the home’s value and how much the opposing party should get. Find out how we won.

Won Sole Decision-Making for a Single Mom
“I didn’t care what I spent. I just wanted [my child] back.”

A woman sought our help after her ex took their child. The man refused to say where they were or return the child. Read about this case.

Court Made Father the Primary Parent
Colorado Parents Have an Equal Opportunity to Raise Their Child

We helped a father, who had been serving in the military overseas, get primary parenting time. Read about his story.

Get a Divorce Case Assessment

At Robinson & Henry, you don’t just hire a lawyer, you hire a team, which will be a great comfort to you as your case progresses. Call 303-688-0944 today to begin your case assessment.

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