Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
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dow-jones-2-1458944-300x226By: Jessica A. Saldin

When proceeding through a divorce case in Colorado, there are sometimes unique property items that raise special questions when it comes to the treatment of those items for division purposes. For example, trusts, business interests, PERA accounts, etc. all have unique aspects which have been discussed in previous blog posts.  Another property item that has unique qualities is stock grants or stock options in a divorce.  Depending on the status of those items, they may not even be considered a property item that is up for discussion.  If the stock options are vested, they are considered property and would then be divided as any other property item (i.e., is it marital or separate, if marital how is it going to be divided to reach an equitable distribution- see prior blog posts on the determinations of marital v. separate property and how marital property is divided). Continue reading

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hospital-maternity-ward-hallwa-1427196-300x226By: Janette Jordan

It is not a common occurrence to have individuals separating immediately around the time of the birth of a child, but it does happen.  When parties are married, this child support and custody issues are usually through the courts via a dissolution of marriage (divorce case).  But what happens to those situations where the parties were never married, or maybe even never together in a relationship? Often times the issue and concern of birth and pregnancy related medical expenses can arise as a financially important issue that requires resolution through the courts as well. Most often these issue of allocating birth and pregnancy costs is something that arises in a paternity case under Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 19.

Most people who share children, but were never married will file what is called an allocation of parental responsibilities (custody) case,  in which issues of parenting time, decision-making, and child support will be dealt with.  These types of cases governed under Title 14 of the Colorado Revised Statute and the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act.  Don’t let the Act fool you, the Section still applies to parties that were never married when going through a APR case.  In regular APR or custody situations, the paternity of the child is not in question and the case can be filed anytime between the birth of the child and the age of emancipation (18).   You cannot file a standard custody case prior to the birth of the child in anticipation of custody issues that may arise thereafter.  However, what is important for expectant mothers contemplating separation, new mothers who have separated from the other parent, and even mothers with young children who have not filed anything with the biological father to know is that  there is no statutory authority for an award of birth related and pregnancy related expenses when you file a case under C.R.S. Title 14.  Pursuant to In Re Custody of Garcia, 695 P.2d 774 (Colo. App. 1984), a case filed under C.R.S. §14-10-123, the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act, which encompasses APR cases, the trial court does not have jurisdiction to make an award of medical expenses associated with the pregnancy/birth of the minor child.  Continue reading

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mock-credit-card-1-1204846-300x196By:  Sarah T. McCain

In every Colorado divorce proceeding, the court will require each party to complete and file a Sworn Financial Statement.  This requirement regarding financial disclosures in a divorce comes from C.R.C.P. Rule 16.2. Among the variety of items that you are required to list on that SFS is debt, including both marital and separate debt items. This includes, but is not limited to, credit cards, student loans, outstanding tax obligations, and medical obligations. On this document, it is important to list all of your debt so that the court is able to properly divide all of the marital debt that has been incurred during the marriage. One question that attorneys get in these cases is whether the debt is joint marital debt which should, thus, be divided. It is a common question and one that is derived from a common misconception that if the debt is not in your name, it is not marital. This is not the case in most situations. 

There are some debts that do follow this standard for the most part. Specifically, student loans are generally something that go with the party who incurred the loan for the purpose of their education. The student is usually the one that is benefitting from the education and thus, the debt goes with them. Of course, nothing is so black and white. There are circumstances when a student loan can be divided as marital debt. When a student loan obligation is incurred during the marriage, the court does have the authority to divided the student loan obligation between the parties.  In doing its analysis, the court may look at things like whether proceeds from the loan were used for marital expenses, such as mortgage or utilities.  A court might also consider whether that loan ultimately benefits both parties financially in that the loan may have led to a degree, which led to a better job, which may impact the spousal support or alimony the other party pays or receives.   Therefore, though the norm might be to have the person incurring the student loan be responsible for paying it, courts can divide student loan debt and may do so in certain circumstances. Continue reading

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school-4-1514478-300x226By:  Jessica A. Saldin

There are many issues related to education and school that must be considered as part of a divorce case.  Prior blog posts have discussed some of these issues.  This post is specifically focused on private schooling and how the issue may be treated as part of your divorce case.  There are several questions that you may have if you are considering private schooling for your children while going through a divorce.  

One of the first questions may be, “can I enroll my children in a private school?”  This question is related to general questions about educational decision making responsibility.  Courts in Colorado tend to find that joint decision making responsibility is in a child’s best interests unless there are specific circumstances that cause the court to find otherwise (for example, in situations of domestic violence, if one parent refuses to communicate regarding decisions, etc.).  Therefore, if you already have orders delegating educational decision making responsibility, the decision of the school in which you enroll the child must be made in accordance with the delegation in your orders.  If you do not have orders regarding decision making, it is always best to try to reach an agreement with the other parent.  Even if there is not an order requiring joint decision making responsibility, courts prefer to see parties that try to reach decisions jointly.  Simply making a unilateral decision can adversely affect the decision making orders the court eventually enters.  However, you also need to keep in mind that, if you are requesting sole decision making responsibility because of domestic violence, lack of responses from the other parent, etc., if a joint decision is made on the issue that could be considered by the court as evidence that joint decision making responsibility is best for the minor child. Continue reading

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By Michelle L. Searcy

As we approach the holiday season, people experience increased anxiety.  Between coordinating family events, preparing food, and spending money beyond the normal monthly budget, everyone feels the pressure of creating life-long memories for their loved ones.  After a divorce, this pressure increases as we hope to reassure our children that holiday celebrations will still be a source of joy.  Having a well-crafted holiday parenting time schedule in your parenting plan helps to avoid unnecessary conflict during the holidays.

As with all parenting time, the best interests of the child standard in section 14-10-124, C.R.S. applies to holiday parenting time.  Of the factors the Court uses to determine the best interests of the child, two are particularly important to the issue of holiday parenting time.  First, the ability to place the needs of the child ahead of your own.  Second, the ability to encourage the sharing of love, affection and contact with the other parent.  Unfortunately, in over a decade practicing family law, I have witnessed good people become unreasonable when it comes to holidays. Continue reading

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By:  Curtis Wiberg

In a typical divorce where a couple are owners of a home, that home is often one of the most valuable assets of the marriage, and the issues of possession and division of the net equity can become a greatest sources of dispute.  The court is tasked with a duty to equitably divide the parties’ assets and debts under C.R.S. 14-10-113 and the timing of this division generally occurs at the time of the final orders and decree.  

Because the net equity can be a ready source of cash at the time of sale or refinancing, parties are often desirous of tapping into that asset while the divorce is ongoing.  At times, they agree to allowing one party to refinance and buy out the other spouse from their share of the equity, or just selling the house and dividing the net proceeds from the sale at closing.  Under CRS 14-10-107, an automatic temporary injunction goes into effect, at the commencement of the divorce, against both parties,  which prohibits disposal of marital property without an order of the court or by mutual agreement. If the parties agree to the disposition of property during a divorce, they can submit their agreement to the court, for it to become a court order.

There are divorces, however, in which one party wants to sell the marital home as soon as possible and the other refuses. What then? The Colorado Court of Appeals addressed such a case in In re: Marriage of Gavend, 781 P.2d 161 (Colo. App. 1989).  Continue reading

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By: Janette Jordan

If you have an existing child custody case in Colorado, are the primary residential custodian, and are considering relocating out of state with the minor child or children, you will need to seek permission from the court or written consent from the other parent.  Even a move from one city to another (for example, Fort Collins to Colorado Springs) could be considered a relocation as it can substantially change the geographical ties between the minor child and the other parent.  C.R.S. 14-10-129 governs modifications of parenting time.  Depending upon the nature of your current parenting time 0rder, there may be different ways to approach the relocation.

When dealing with a motion for relocation, there are several factors that the court will consider in addition to the best interests of the child (C.R.S. 14-10-124).  Those standards are set forth in C.R.S. 14-10-129 and can include:  Continue reading

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By: Jessica A. Saldin

If you are faced with a permanent protection order, it is not uncommon for one of the first questions you ask yourself to be, “is this restraining order truly permanent or can it ever be modified or terminated?”  As a point of clarification, this blog only addresses civil protection/restraining orders.  Protection orders entered as part of a criminal case, typically known as Mandatory Restraining Orders (or “MROs”), are governed by a different statute and are outside of the scope of this post.  While MRO’s will often include the terms or conditions that must be met before such an order is lifted, there are no such provisions with civil restraining orders.  The civil restraining order is simply entered and is captioned as a “permanent.”   Regardless of the “permanent” label, the restrained party may not be faced with a perpetual order than can never be modified or lifted.  Colorado statute does make provisions for modifying civil restraining orders, under certain conditions. Continue reading

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By: Curtis Wiberg

During a divorce proceeding, or in a post-decree modification proceeding, issues related to a spouse’s income or assets are often disputed, especially when one spouse suspects the other spouse is hiding income or assets from them.

Typically, bank records and income information is disclosed through the mandatory financial disclosure process of Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 16.2, or (if you have need to review many months worth of financial documents) through the process of discovery as outlined in Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure 33 and 34. These rules of civil procedure, however, operate on the premise that the spouse will abide by their duty to disclose requested or required information. Some spouses, whether through dishonesty, indifference, or neglect, do not abide by their duty to disclose (or fully disclose) their information as required under these rules.  

The spouse who does not disclose information as required is vulnerable to significant sanctions, and these sanctions often are sufficient to protect the spouse seeking this information.  However, if production of documents remains necessary, a party’s right to subpoena documents exists under a different, C.R.C.P. Rule 45. Continue reading

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By:  Sarah McCain

I recently read an article listing current divorce statistics and providing eight divorce horror stories from both the client and the lawyer’s perspective. The stories ranged from issues with excessive fees, fraud, disappearing spouses, and those with a second life. While these stories are obviously extreme examples, what connected these parties was the initial thought in those cases that the other side would be reasonable. That is a common statement and one that we hear in our office on quite a frequent basis. Unfortunately, it does not always work that way. However, there are steps that you can take to ensure that both you and your lawyer are prepared for your case, no matter what form it takes. Below are a couple of suggestions which may assist you along the process. Continue reading