Denver Divorce Attorney Blog
Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
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If you are considering a divorce, things could happen in one of two ways. If possible, it is usually preferable if you and your spouse can come to agreements on things like property division and child care arrangements outside of court with the assistance of a mediator or an attorney. In the event that you absolutely cannot reach an agreement, however, you may have to present your case before a judge in court.
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Attorneys know the importance of financial disclosures in any divorce case. Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure rule 16.2 sets forth the procedural aspects, or rules, a court expects parties, with or without attorneys, to follow related to case management. This includes rules regarding disclosure of documents and information related to the financial issues of a divorce case, which can include property division, debt division, maintenance (alimony), and child support.
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Going to see a lawyer is like going to the doctor. None of us want to do it. Just like we don’t ask to be sick, we don’t ask to have legal problems. In reality, we will all need the assistance of a doctor at some point over the course of our lives. Likewise, may of us will need the services of an attorney at some point in our lives. For a large portion of the population that need will arise within the setting of a divorce or custody case. Just like going to the doctor, no one relishes the notion of paying an attorney to help fix their legal problems. Contrary to common belief, there is no statute indicating that the “loser pays.” However, fortunately there are some instances in which statute provides litigants an opportunity to recoup attorney fees in a Denver divorce, custody, or child support case, depending on the facts and circumstances.
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In the first two parts of this article, I focused on the significance of a contested Denver area divorce or custody hearing and the first procedure steps in terms of sequence and timing. In those posts, I discussed opening arguments, testimony, and what can be expected at each of those phases. This final segment will address the wrapping up of testimony, into closing arguments, and the potential for the court to rule from the bench. As indicated at the end of part two, I will also briefly address the rules of evidence as relates to testimony.
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In Colorado, both parents must contribute to child support, though the amount paid and who pays it is based on the parents’ income and time spent with the child. The parent that cares for the children less than 50% of the time usually must pay child support to the other parent for the benefit of the children. Unfortunately, there are many cases when a parent ordered to pay child support fails to comply, leaving the burden of enforcing the child support order to the other parent. This can lead to bitterness and hostility between parents who may have other issues between them as well. Like other court orders, child support orders can be enforced.
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In the first part of this article, I ventured into the significance of a full blown court hearing, as opposed to a status conference. I also started discussing the beginnings of that contested Arapahoe County divorce or custody hearing. To refresh, my usage of the term “full blown” hearing equates to a contested, evidentiary hearing, in which witnesses, including the parties, will be called to give testimony. Documentary or other evidence may also be submitted to the court for consideration. At the end of such a hearing, the judge or magistrate will render a decision. The conclusion of Part 1 of this post touched on opening arguments, followed by brief discussion of testimony and who goes first. To correct, or clarify, a prior statement, in a pre-decree divorce, custody, or child support case, the “petitioner” goes first. In post-decree hearings, such as might relate to a motion to modify child custody, the “movant, meaning the party who filed the underlying motion, gets to go first, regardless of whether they are designated as the “petitioner.
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While it’s not romantic to consider what will happen if the marriage ends, for many Colorado residents, it makes sense to get a prenuptial agreement drafted so as to protect income or assets. Prenuptial agreements can address property division and debt, obligations related to wills or insurance policies or pensions, and spousal maintenance. They cannot address what will happen to the children, because the courts must consider the children’s best interest regardless of what spouses agreed before the marriage.
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As I often indicate, each Denver area divorce or custody case is unique, with its own twists, turns and variables which can come to play and, potentially, have an impact on the outcome of a case. An experienced Denver family law attorney knows how to deal with those nuances to his or her clients’ advantage, when possible. A seasoned attorney dealing with a Douglas County divorce knows that the outcome might be different from one in Jefferson County. Beyond the subjective intricacies that each case may hold, there are also basic fundamentals in family law cases which hold true, regardless of which county a case is docketed in. One of those relates to court procedure, particularly when it comes to contested hearings.

In all Denver metropolitan area divorce or custody cases, an initial status conference is required. This is an initial meeting with the court for purposes of assessing where the case is at, is headed, and what needs to be done to get there. There may also be secondary status conferences, whether in person or by telephone. In some cases, such as a contempt of court matter, there will be a perfunctory advisement hearing, which will be the first, and lesser, interaction with the court. Each of these lesser court appearances is important. That being said, none are the final hearing each person anticipates as the potential end point of his or her divorce or custody case.
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Recently, an interesting story was in the media about a Muslim convert that posted threats against South Park for its cartoons about the prophet Muhammad and then tried to join a Somali terror group, using his baby at the airport to try to appear less suspicious. He was put on the no-fly list and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The baby, who now lives with the man’s mother, is now the subject of a custody dispute being heard in federal appellate court. The man, who is imprisoned in a super-max prison, is suing his mother, who doesn’t share his conservative Islamic beliefs, and the FBI for monetary damages on the grounds that they are interfering with his parental rights. While most Colorado child custody disputes do not involve this level of intrigue, the issue of religious beliefs sometimes does play an important role.
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From time to time, in my limited spare time, I read. As the inner nerd in me still exists, that includes looking at odd topics related to divorce laws in other places. Colorado is one of fifty states. Though our laws have similarities to other states, they also differ. To Denver divorce attorneys, our statutes makes sense, though not always, largely based on familiarity and the fact that change often comes at a snails pace. Over the years I have read horror stories from other states, such as Massachusetts, which apparently does, or did, factor in new spouses’ incomes when recalculating alimony (properly termed maintenance in Colorado). I recall a story a few years ago from somewhere back east, in which a man was ordered to pay alimony at the time of his divorce, with his wife ultimately remarrying and his alimony stopping. Once the wife divorced her second husband, she was able to go back and get alimony again from her first husband. Upon reading that story, I concluded that payers of alimony in Colorado should thank their lucky stars that alimony terminates upon remarriage of the payee and cannot be revived. This was, perhaps, the oddest article I had seen until March of 2015.
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