When most people think of divorce, the image that comes to mind is a heated and emotionally taxing courtroom battle, followed by a judge-imposed permanent order that might leave one or both parties extremely angry at the results. Fortunately, if you have a relatively cordial relationship with your spouse, your divorce does not have to go down that route. You and your spouse can negotiate an enforceable separation agreement on your own terms and at your own pace.
Negotiating an agreement
You and your spouse can negotiate your separation agreement on your own. However, you also have the option of hiring a divorce mediator, attorneys to negotiate on your respective behalfs, or both.
Your agreement must cover all basic aspects of your divorce, such as property division, spousal maintenance, and child custody and maintenance. The court is not bound by your child custody determination, but they will take your wishes into account.
Making sure that it is enforceable
If a divorcing couple brings a negotiated separation agreement to the court, Colorado law requires the court to integrate the agreement into the final divorce decree. The main exception to this rule is that, if the court finds that the agreement is unconscionable under the circumstances, they can reject it and send it back to the couple with proposed revisions.
Unconscionable essentially means that the agreement is extremely unfair or one-sided. The goal of the court is to ensure that both parties get their opportunity to negotiate for what they most want and need. Unconscionable agreements sometimes result where one party took advantage of the other, or where there was uneven bargaining power – such as when one party hires an attorney to negotiate on their behalf, but the other side does not.
When you take your divorce into your own hands and negotiate your own separation agreement rather than leaving it up to the court, you will be much more likely to get through the divorce process with a relatively satisfying result, so that you can begin the next chapter of your life.