Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
Published on:

license-wall-5-1445048-300x222By: Curtis Wiberg

In our mobile society, it is not an uncommon occurrence for parents to obtain custody orders in one state, and for both parents and the children to later reside in other states, soon after.  This can make resolution of subsequent conflicts involving parenting time (visitation) complicated.

Every state in the country has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) to address these parenting time or custody issues that involve multiple states, which gives parents and courts predictability as these multi-state issues arise.

Generally speaking, the UCCJEA provides a series of guidelines such that only one state can have subject matter jurisdiction or authority to determine custody orders at a time.  This is known as the “home state”, and it is usually determined by the state where a minor child has resided for the most recent six continuous months prior to the initial court custody filing.  Once a state assumes home state jurisdiction, that home state has exclusive home state jurisdiction to modify custody orders until such time as both parents and the children no longer reside in the home state, or because the home state becomes an inconvenient forum and gives up it’s exclusive jurisdiction.   Interstate jurisdictional authorization for a court to establish, modify, or enforce a child custody order differs, depending on the circumstances. Continue reading

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denver-capitol-hill-1620432-300x199By:  Jessica A. Saldin

Starting August 8, 2018, there will some statutory changes being made to the Colorado Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (the main statute/law that governs Colorado divorce and custody cases).  As these changes may have major impacts on your divorce or custody case, it is important to know what they are.  A few of the statutes are undergoing minor word changes, which are not being discussed in this article.  The major changes, which will be the primary focus of this article, affect the statutes governing spousal maintenance and child support.

C.R.S. 14-10-114 is the statute that governs maintenance (often called spousal support or alimony).  As discussed in a prior blog post, the federal tax code is changing in 2019, with an impact on how maintenance payments are treated for tax purposes.  It used to be that a payor’s maintenance payments were tax deductible to the payor and a recipient’s maintenance payments had to be claimed on the recipient’s taxes as income.  Starting in 2019, the recipient will not have to declare maintenance payments as income; however, the paying party will not get a deduction for maintenance paid.  As mentioned in the prior post, such was anticipated to have an effect on Colorado’s maintenance law because the formula was created with the understanding that maintenance would be tax deductible and taxable, respectively.  As anticipated, the Colorado legislature has made changes to Colorado’s maintenance law to account for these federal tax changes. Continue reading

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ofcomm-series-collapsed-1533808-300x205By:  Michelle L. Searcy

Divorce can often create stress, anxiety, and even depression.   If you are going through a divorce or are even contemplating it, uncertainty about the future is bound to affect your mental health.  You may experience fear and anxiety about your income, your property, and your children.  Different people react differently to all of this stress.  The range of coping mechanisms spans healthier tactics, such as healthy eating and exercising to more risky behaviors, like excessive drinking or spending.   Regardless of your personal style of coping, you will need to make crucial, potentially life-altering decisions in the process of a divorce.  

You will need to be able to evaluate offers, determine whether and on what terms to counter-offer, or whether to present issues for the court to decide.  Stress, depression and anxiety do not only affect the way you feel, but also the way you think.  They can cloud your judgment, making it more difficult to make the best decisions possible.  Poor decisions may not only affect the outcome of your case, but increase your legal costs.  Thus, you may find it helpful to identify your level of stress, and then, determine how best to address it.  

Psychology Today published an excellent article in 2012 titled “Where are You on the Divorce Stress Scale?”   An honest assessment of the effects of divorce-related stress will help you determine how best to cope  to allow you to make forward thinking, productive decisions.  The Psychology Today article included excellent suggestions for coping with stress.  Other resources are also available, such as the Jane Collingwood article on Psychcentral.com, Reducing the Stress of a Divorce. Continue reading

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balance-1172800-300x204By: Curtis Wiberg

On May 21, 2018, the Colorado Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of Parocha v. Parocha, 2018 CO 41. The case involved a wife who fled an abusive relationship in New Jersey, with her infant daughter, to reside in Colorado with her family. Once here in Colorado, the husband continued making harassing and threatening calls from New Jersey to the wife.  The question before the Colorado Supreme Court was whether Colorado could exercise jurisdiction against an out of state party, and issue a restraining order, solely on the basis of threatening and harassing contact received by the wife in Colorado, notwithstanding the fact that husband had not been physically present in Colorado.  The court ruled that the actions of husband in sending communications that were harassing and threatening to his wife in Colorado constituted acts that gave the Colorado courts authority to issue a protection order in Colorado against her Husband.  As such, the Colorado Supreme Court has given victims of domestic violence an important protection not explicitly existent previously. Continue reading

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running-girl-and-endless-green-meadows-1430721-300x200By: Jessica A. Bryant

There has been a recent push in Colorado by parents requesting a free range parenting law.  This type of law was recently passed in Utah (the first state to pass such a law).  The reasoning for such type of law is to provide some sort of clarity for parents that want to teach their children more independence without the risk of being charged with child abuse or neglect.  In Colorado, the child abuse/neglect laws are vague, which allows the Department of Human Services to exercise discretion in an investigation when deciding if something should be pursued as child abuse or neglect, or not.  For example, Colorado does not have a specific age as to when a child can be left home alone- it is simply judged on a reasonableness standard.  However, that same vagueness creates uncertainty for parents that want to allow their children freedom to exercise independence by walking home from school or riding their bike to the park, for example.  If passed, this type of law would have obvious effects on child abuse and neglect cases.  However, it could also have effects on Colorado divorce and custody cases.  Continue reading

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a-helping-hand-2-1439048By: Janette Jordan

This blog post will focus primarily on C.R.S. 19-5-105(3.1) which lays out the ways in which the court may find grounds for the termination of parental rights of a parent and a minor child.  If you are remarried and find yourself considering a step-parent adoption, it is important to be familiar with the ways in which your new spouse could legally adopt your minor child(ren).  In an adoption case, it is possible to seek for a step-parent adoption by first terminating the parental rights of the other parent.  Termination occurs when the court severs the legal relationship between a parent and their child.  Relinquishment occurs when one parent voluntarily gives up their legal relationship between themself and their child.  

Pursuant to C.R.S. 19-5-105(3.1), the court may terminate a birth parent’s parental rights when it finds that (1) it is in the best interests of the child; and (2) there is clear and convincing evidence of one of the following: Continue reading

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playing-to-win-1508299-300x226By:  Curtis Wiberg

Plog & Stein, P.C.

In my career as a family law attorney, I have seen a lot of problems between divorced spouses as they relate to costs associated with minor children’s school and/or extracurricular expenses. Many divorce orders or separation agreements contain provisions for the parties to share expenses of school and extracurricular activities.  As with many things in life, however, the devil is in the details, and ambiguities in what qualifies an appropriate expense, and then how reimbursements are to occur result in conflict, mischief, and ultimately litigation. It is incumbent on parties (and to their attorneys) to button down with specificity which expenses are to be split and procedures for reimbursement  to avoid problems.

The legal basis for the division of such costs derive from the child support statute, C.R.S. § 14-10-115.  As articulated in the Colorado Appeals Court case of In re: Marriage of Laughlin, 932 P.2d 858 (Colo. App. 1995) “The case-by-case determination of child support with which a trial court is charged must include a consideration of factors related to a child’s standard of living and additional needs. Such factors include recreational costs. In re Marriage of LeBlanc, 800 P.2d 1384 (Colo.App.1990); § 14-10-115(1), C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6B). In addition, this court has recognized that fees associated with athletic activities can either qualify as educational expenses under § 14-10-115(11)(I) or provide a basis under § 14-10-115(3)(a), C.R.S. (1996 Cum.Supp.) for the deviation from the presumed amount of support. See In re Marriage of Ansay, 839 P.2d 527 (Colo.App.1992). The trial court’s post-hearing orders contain sufficient findings to satisfy us that inclusion of the ice skating fees was warranted here. See In re Marriage of Nielsen, 794 P.2d 1097 (Colo.App.1990) (trial court has discretion to deviate from the guidelines where justified provided it makes appropriate findings).”  Per statute, once such fees are identified as being appropriately factored into the child’s overall need, those fees are to be split in proportion to the parties’ incomes. Continue reading

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529523323-300x200By: Jessica A. Bryant

After getting married it is not uncommon for people to change the beneficiaries on their various accounts (life insurance, stocks, retirement accounts, etc.) to their new spouse.  In the event of a divorce, most types of accounts allow the beneficiary to be changed (be cognizant of the automatic temporary injunction that goes into place when a divorce is filed that prohibits changing the beneficiaries of certain accounts without agreement or court order until the case is completed).  However, one exception to this ability to always change the beneficiary, is a pension account.  Most pension beneficiary rules have a time frame after which the beneficiary cannot be changed.  For example, sometimes, when the person retires, that triggers the event such that their beneficiary designation becomes irrevocable.  So the question may arise, if a divorce is filed after the beneficiary designation becomes irrevocable, does the fact that you are a beneficiary of your spouse’s pension plan, or vice versa, mean that you have a marital property interest in their pension? Continue reading

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listen-1257756-300x226By:  Sarah T. McCain

During the end of a marriage, there can often be a significant amount of fighting. It’s hoped that these verbal arguments couples might engage in can be kept from the children.  As a marriage ends through the process of divorce, children often comment that it is better that they not be caught in the middle of the fighting. This is a goal I recommend all clients strive for and something the court will certainly expect tied into one facet of the C.R.S. 14-10-124 “best interest of the child” standard: the ability of the parents to put the needs of the child over their own.  However, what happens when the conflict continues and what can you do to make sure that this continued hostility does not impact your parenting relationship or the emotional health of your children?  Continue reading

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priority-mental-health-1546123-300x224By: Janette Jordan 

Divorce is an extremely emotionally taxing and difficult process. It affects both parties directly involved, and then the children. A divorce is essentially a fracturing of a family unit. One household now becomes two. One shared holiday now becomes split or alternated. The reality is that it is okay to seek outside help; and it is encouraged. For us divorce lawyers, divorce is a common occurrence and something we deal with literally every day (weekends and holidays excepted).  For you, the person going through the divorce, you are having to deal with a whole new set of issues, such as the legal aspect of your case, the emotional separation and loss, the uncertainty of the future, and maintaining stability for your children.  One of the best things you can do for them is to ensure they have a safe emotional outlet in which to participate and engage, such as therapy.

There are many approaches to therapy depending upon your unique situation and the age of your children. Most psychologists recognize that the time following the divorce is the hardest time for a child. The discussion, realization, and/or physical separation in the beginning can be traumatizing and upsetting, but a lot of the research suggests it is how the parents help their children navigate this transition that determines lasting psychological effects.  Continue reading