Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
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hand-with-a-paper-1240142By: Jessica A. Bryant

When starting an initial Colorado family law case, the two first steps are filing the initial case documents (Petition and Summons) and getting the other party served.  Pursuant to the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4, serving divorce papers generally comes in two forms: either the other party signs what is known as a Waiver and Acceptance of Service (acknowledging receipt of the documents and waiving the requirement for personal service) or the other party needs to be personally served (a sheriff or private process server needs to hand the initial case documents directly to the other party, to a family member over the age of 18 at the other party’s residence, or to the other party’s supervisor, secretary, administrative assistant, bookkeeper, human resources representative, or managing agent at his or her workplace).

However, the question sometimes arises, what is the next step if you do not know the home or work address of the other party? Many times, people simply decide to wait and not face the headache of trying to find the other person. Sitting back and doing nothing is generally not the best course of action to take, particularly in divorce cases.  As long as you remain married, even if you have been physically separated for years, any property accrued (real estate, retirement, bank accounts, etc.) is generally considered marital property (with a few caveats). Also, the longer you remain married, the more likely it is that the other party may be entitled to your Social Security benefits due to the length of the marriage. Finally, as the duration of spousal maintenance (alimony) is tied into the length of the marriage, the longer the length of the marriage, the longer a term of spousal maintenance could last. Thus, it is often recommended that you take the time to track down the other party at the time you are thinking of pursuing a divorce case, rather than wait several years and ending up with a longer term marriage. Continue reading

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division of property
Plog & Stein, P.C. will be hosting a FREE Divorce and Real Estate Seminar.  Come join us at our DTC office on December 7, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.  for a free seminar focusing on the ins and outs of dealing with real estate in your divorce.

In conjunction with a local real estate agent, Krissi Spohn of Coldwell Banker, and a local mortgage broker, Plog & Stein will be hosting this informational seminar.  Learn about your rights and options  related to the marital home, second properties, and time shares.

In any divorce, there are an array of issues tied into how to deal with your home.   Is one party keeping the home?  How is the home valued?   How do you deal with the refinance process?   What will a the court do when it comes to dealing with the marital home?   These questions and many more will be addressed, including as relates to sale and refinancing.    The seminar is free.   Knowledge is priceless.

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pet-1543980By:  Sarah T. McCain

Man’s (or woman’s) best friend, just like your child, will be near and dear to your heart long after your marriage may end.  When going through the divorce process, often the family pet becomes part of the equation for many individuals, but is your dog or cat a consideration for the court?  The answer is, “yes.”  Unfortunately, as of today’s statutes, animals are not given much thought by Colorado divorce courts from an emotional or feelings standpoint.  Rather, the law leaves family pets essentially viewed as any other piece of marital, personal property.   This does not mean that you should completely ignore your pets when going through a divorce, but taking this issue to the judge may not result in the outcome you anticipate will happen. Judges will generally not be dividing custody or transferring animals back and forth between parties to a divorce case.  This is, in part, because courts have to divide property by allocating it specifically to someone.

As such, when possible, it’s best to try to negotiate terms regarding the possession, ownership, and care of your animals and to get those terms put into a written agreement.   That written agreement can then be made an enforceable order of the court.  In essence, though a judge might not put the necessary thought into how to deal with the family pets, you have the power to come to agreements regarding those pets which you believe are in their “best interest.”   Of course, animals come in all shapes, sizes and types.   Not all animals are considered pets, such as livestock on a ranch.   When trying to reach an agreement regarding animals, where should you focus?  Will you treat the family dog different from the cows or goats on your farm?  How will you divide them?

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CourtroomBy:  Curtis Wiberg

As your family law case progresses to trial, the risks of letting a judge decide the course of your life and/or your children’s lives becomes a huge factor to consider if you are in a contentious divorce or post-divorce proceeding.  No matter how strong you may perceive your position to be, taking a case to trial is always a gamble, and it is important to have the opinion of a lawyer with experience litigating to provide you the best information as to your best course.  Though some cases can be straight forward such that the outcome seems certain, others can have a murkier outcome, depending on the law and the facts.   Additionally, given the fact that each judge/court may view an issue differently, results can vary from courtroom to courtroom.

In any case, it’s important to know what the best case scenario of going to trial is, and the odds of that best case materializing.  Likewise, it’s important to know what the worst case scenario of going to trial is, and the chances of that worst coming to pass. Where a compromise falls on that spectrum between the two scenarios should be one of the major factors to consider when making the decision regarding whether to settle or go to trial.  Having an experienced attorney who knows the law, the judges, and the expert witnesses to inform you of the likelihoods of various outcomes can be extremely helpful in guiding you to the best decision. Continue reading

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united-states-passport-1422402By:  Jessica A. Bryant

One area of dispute that can arise following a divorce or custody action is the question of obtaining a passport for the child. To get a passport for a child under 16, the State Department generally requires signatures from both of the parents or legal guardians. This requirement is the same even if the application is just for a renewal passport. There are a few exceptions to this requirement, though, which are as follows:

1.      The State Department will allow a passport application to be signed by only one parent if any of the following documentation can be provided:

a.    A written, signed and notarized statement from the non-applying parent, or an affidavit from  such parent, agreeing that the passport may be issued;

b.   Documentation showing the requesting parent is the sole parent or has sole custody- acceptable documentation includes the following:

Continue reading

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Private eyeBy: Sarah T. McCain

Often in high conflict divorce or custody cases, a party will ask me whether or not they should invest in having a private investigator follow their spouse. While it may sound tempting, the majority of the time, the answer to this question is “no.” However, there may be instances in which a private investigator can be helpful.  When pondering the notion of a private investigator, it’s important to assess with your attorney when it is unnecessary and when it might be of assistance to your overall case.  The answer will certainly depend on the facts and circumstances at hand tied into what you are trying to prove.

The most common reason I hear people raise when thinking about hiring an investigator is the possibility of infidelity in the relationship. If you are looking to determine whether your significant other is having an affair, you may be looking at spending money that will not provide a benefit to the arguments you are looking to make in court.  Contrary to common belief, infidelity is generally not a factor the court is interested in hearing about due to Colorado being a no-fault divorce state.  Obviously there are exceptions to this general rule, but these are limited and should be discussed with an attorney.  Though hiring a private investigator to prove infidelity may help settle any lingering doubts about the state of your relationship, it’s not likely to be a good use of financial resources.   Continue reading

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By:  Curtis Wiberg

As a Denver divorce lawyer, the vast majority of cases I see, marriages which end are dissolved through divorce, but not all. Legal annulment of marriage in Colorado is a rare occurrence and the grounds justifying annulment are tough to prove. However, there are situations where an annulment is necessary, and it’s important to know what the rights of the parties are in those rare instances. In Colorado, the statute refers to an annulment as a “Declaration of Invalidity.” In some circumstances, despite the lack of a valid marriage, a spouse may still be able to seek relief normally reserved for dissolution of a marriage, such as maintenance (alimony) or division of property and debt.

The ground for annulling a marriage are contained in C.R.S. ֻ14-10-111. The specific grounds set forth in subsection (1) of that statutory section, and read as follows:

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By: Stephen J. Plog

10-0-1241769Over the last several decades, divorce rates have increase significantly from those in the 1970’s or 80’s. As divorce has become a more common life event, including in Colorado, social phenomena have also changed. Going back to childhood, we all remember the TV staple, classic, the Brady Bunch. Mike brought “three boys of his own” to the equation. Carol brought “three very lovely girls.” Perhaps the first prime time “blended family” materialized.  Of course, the Brady’s were television and we all live, operate, and deal with the law in the real world. Often times, with the blended family, comes a new child, or children. Mike, Carol, nor anyone else other than those involved in a family law case likely ever stopped to ask about the ramifications of the blended family and new children as relates to the issue of Denver child support.

Having practiced as a Denver area child support attorney for many years, I have fielded various assumptive questions from clients related to child support and changed life situations. Two of the most common are whether a new spouse’s income gets included in a child support calculation, which it does not, and whether people can include or derive a benefit from new children. With the second question, the answer has changed multiple times. Starting January 1, 2017, it will change again.

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By: Jessica A. Bryant

Recently, the United States Supreme Court found that laws prohibiting same sex marriage, as well as laws refusing to recognize same sex marriages validly performed in another state, are unconstitutional,  as they violate the Fourteenth Amendment. This ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges, however, generated many more questions about the effect the ruling would have nationwide and in each individual state. In Colorado, questions have arisen about whether the decision is to be applied retroactively or prospectively and what effect the ruling will have as relates to common law marriages. Continue reading

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By:  Curtis Wiberg

divorce concept family separation

After many years of practicing custody law in Denver, I have seen hundreds of cases and many troubling situations.  Despite seeing it all, at times, I am still shocked by some of the negative or hurtful positions parents embroiled in a custody battle might place their kids in.  One of the more unfortunate occurrences in a divorce or custody case that involves children is when there is a case of parental alienation. The phrase refers to the action of one parent in deliberately undermining the child’s relationship with the other parent.  “Alienation” can range from minor actions, like saying to a child “isn’t it more fun at my house,” to the extreme case of falsifying abuse claims against the other parent for the purpose of disrupting contact.

Parental alienation, if proven, is taken very seriously by Colorado family law courts and is considered as a form of emotional abuse. C.R.S. § 14-10-124 (1.5)(a)(VI) explicitly requires a court to consider a party’s ability to foster a positive relationship between a child and the other parent as one of many factors in determining parenting time and a child’s best interest. If a court determines that a party does not support the other party’s relationship with a child and takes that lack of support to the level of alienation, that alienating party can find that he or she is the one who is having  parenting time curtailed or decision-making authority taken away. Continue reading