Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
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calculator-300x200By: Stephen J. Plog

In the vast majority of Colorado divorce or custody cases I have litigated over the years, child support is an issue to be resolved.   Child support is calculated based on a statutory formula, with the primary variables being the income of each party, the number of children, the number of overnight visits per year for each parent, and lesser items such as monthly health insurance premiums or day care costs.   As one might imagine, people can argue over almost anything, including each of these variables that going into the calculation, but for the number of children.   In most cases, the primary variable being argued over is income.    Aside from arguments regarding someone being unemployed or underemployed and the amount of income that should be attributed to them, battles can arise over forms or types of income.    This includes arguments regarding bonus and commission income which one might earn above and beyond their base salary.   Contrary to common belief, bonuses and commissions are income for calculating child support pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-115. Continue reading

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property-market-1223813By:  Stephen J. Plog

As indicated in various, previous posts over the years, one of the primary issues which can arise in any divorce case is the division of marital property. While reading the news the other morning, I came across a story regarding the case of an English couple battling over their divorce and division of property.  The gist of the article tied into an appellate ruling related to division of the marital estate and whether that division would deviate from the norm based on the husband’s contributions.  Specifically, the parties were arguing over how to divide their $225 million marital estate, with the husband arguing he should receive a greater share than normal due to his special contribution to the marital estate.   The special contribution the husband claimed was the fact that his superior intelligence or “genius” lead to the creation of the vast amount of wealth to be divided.    The English appellate court ultimately ruled against him.

While analyzing this and other cases, the author pointed out that under English law, the norm is to divide a marital estate equally.   This is also the norm in most Colorado divorce cases, whether that norm is arrived at through settlement or a hearing with the court.  Given that many of our notions of legal fairness stem from English law, I was not shocked to learn this.   Of course the bigger aspect of the article was the issue of how British courts might treat contribution of one spouse towards the marital estate as a basis for deviating from the norm of equal and awarding the greater contributor a greater piece of the proverbial pie.   Given my years of experience and familiarity with Colorado family law, I immediately started pondering the issue of contribution and how often it’s really a factor in a Colorado divorce case. Continue reading

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no-symbol-circle-with-slash-prohibition-sign-1146029By:  Curtis Wiberg

If you are contemplating a divorce or legal separation, but are afraid of retaliation by your spouse, know that the Colorado Legislature has enacted law to protect you right out of the gate. This provision of the law is known as the Automatic Temporary Injunction and is located at C.R.S. 14-10-107 (4)(b).   The specific terms of the injection are required to be set forth in both the divorce summons and petition.   There are four key protections set forth in Section 107, and they go into effect on the Petitioner as soon as the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed with the Court.  The protections go into effect on the Respondent as soon as the Respondent is personally served or signs a waiver of service. The four protections are as follows:

(A) Restraining both parties from transferring, encumbering, concealing, or in any way disposing of, without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, any marital property, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life and requiring each party to notify the other party of any proposed extraordinary expenditures and to account to the court for all extraordinary expenditures made after the injunction is in effect;

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breakfast-1457900By:  Sarah T. McCain

When it comes to parenting, even the most in sync parents have different styles. This can become even more apparent while going through a divorce or Colorado custody case, when all of your choices are under a microscope.  One area of parenting which can draw scrutiny for parents is the choice of meals given to children.  Yes, “meals.”  Dietary and food preference issues do arise in custody cases and over the years I have seen them.   These types of issues can range from dealing with a dietary medical issue to a parent being just a little too concerned about one too many Big Macs eaten during the other parent’s  visitation.  The real legal question to be addressed is whether a Judge will see the same level of concern that on parent might have and take action based on that concern.

Firstly, it’s important to recognize the eating patterns that took place during your relationship or marriage.  If the type of food provided is the same now as it was during the marriage, many complaints will not be taken seriously.  The Judge or Court will question why it was okay then but not now.  There may be a logical reason for the change in stance on diet and nutrition, but it will definitely need to be succinctly and logically explained for the Court to care.   Judges are extremely wary of people raising concerns in custody case to make the other parent look bad, as opposed to them raising legitimate concerns tied into the children. Continue reading

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the-thinker-by-rodin-1233081By: Jessica Bryant

I recently came across a news article regarding a New York custody case.    The child custody article focused on a case in which a New York judge awarded what was termed “tri-custody” over a child.  The specific background was that a married couple entered into an open relationship with their neighbor.  A child was born from the relationship, with the husband being the biological father and the neighbor being the biological mother.  Prior to any legal proceedings, the parties had agreed that the child would be raised by all three of them, including the wife, who was not the biological mom.  Eventually, though, the wife left husband to be with the neighbor.  This resulted in the husband filing a suit for custody of the child and wife filing for a divorce from him.  Husband and the neighbor agreed to shared custody, but wife filed her own case out of concern that if her relationship with the neighbor fell apart she would have to rely on the neighbor or her ex-husband to allow her to see the child.  The judge ultimately awarded the neighbor (biological mother) primary residential custody, the husband (biological father) weekend time parenting time, and the wife Wednesday nights and one week of vacation during the school year, plus two weeks in the summer. Continue reading

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right-or-wrong-1160031By Stephen J. Plog

In Part 1 of this article, I discussed the basic concept of false allegations of abuse or violence being raise in Colorado custody cases.   This included delving into some of the case specific and systemic consequences or results flowing from people making false allegations.  I also touched on the damage these types of allegations can have on children and their bonds with the accused parents.   Finally, I touched on the fact that false allegations are something that sometimes take time to deal with and, depending on the specific allegations, may require a certain amount of patience.   With years of practicing as a Denver custody attorney under my belt, I have seen enough situations to have formulated the belief that justice has a way of working things out and exposing the lies, in the end.  However, exposing lies and false allegations doesn’t just happen by chance.  In reality, it takes skill, experience, a methodical approach to ultimately refuting those allegations.

In a general sense, the burden of proof regarding false allegations will fall upon the person making them, meaning courts generally adhere to the notion that the person raising an allegation of abuse or violence had better be able to back them up.     Though the accuser may bear that burden to build his or her case up, I am firm believer in the accused taking affirmative, proactive steps to build a case for refuting those allegations.    In reality, some allegations, such as those of a sexual abuse of a child, can lead a court to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach from the onset.  No judge wants to be responsible for allowing potentially dangerous contact.   As such, they may put protections in place, initially, which have the wrongly accused feeling like he or she is already damned in the eyes of the court.   As an empathic person, I wholly understand why they would feel this way.   As a professional, I know that things will need to take their course and that ultimately those false allegations can be undone and turned around.   As indicated in Part 1, it can truly be an exercise in patience.    Between drafting Parts 1 and 2, I came across an article in which it took a man wrongly accused of child abuse over 20 years before the system acknowledged he had one nothing wrong.    This was an extreme case which ended in his parental rights being terminated, but exemplifies the tragic outcome and effect that false allegations can have on a custody case and a parent’s relationship with their children.  Below, I will start discussing how to deal with various allegations and the process people may be faced with. Continue reading

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yellow-flag-in-pocket-1510212By:  Curtis Wiberg

Sometimes a high profile divorce can help teach a lesson on key issues that exist in an everyday Colorado divorce. The divorce proceeding currently underway in Texas involving Denver Bronco wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is one such case.

Gabriella Sanders filed for divorce in October 2016, in Texas. Within the last two weeks, the website TMZ broke the news that Gabriella Sanders alleges that Emmanuel Sanders committed marital “atrocities,” including spending thousands of dollars on multiple other women for the purpose of having extra-marital affairs. To add to the salaciousness of the allegations, Gabriella claims that Emmanuel lied to the Broncos of needing to be excused from practices in November to attend the birth of his baby when really he wanted time off in order to pursue these sexual relationships.  In fact, Gabriella did not give birth to their baby until the second week of December. Continue reading

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cheque-in-american-dollars-1632213-300x200

By: Jessica A. Bryant

It is not uncommon for individuals to seek financial assistance when going through a Colorado divorce, custody, or modification case.   Oftentimes, individuals seek financial assistance to cover attorney fees, the cost of retaining experts, or assistance with other financial items related to their cases.  In other instances, people seek or receive help from family members or friends just to meet their needs, given the abrupt changes that come when families split up.   Whatever the circumstances under which a person might need financial help, it’s important to understand that help from others can have potential ramifications in your case, primarily tied into income, debt, or how costs might be allocated.   A few things  to keep in mind when seeking or accepting financial assistance from others while going through your family law case are as follows:

Continue reading

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calendar-series-4-1192550By:  Sarah T. McCain

Do parenting time schedules have to be the same for two kids?  The simple answer is, “no.”  In recent months, numerous articles have highlighted the divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  Receiving specific attention are the allegations of altercations between Pitt and their oldest child of the six kids they share. This has seemingly (from a tabloid perspective) resulted in him seeing all of his children on a very infrequent basis, if he has seen them at all.   Not much of anything has been in the news regarding his relationships with his other kids.  Presuming that there is an issue between him and the eldest child, not of an abusive nature,  should his relationship with the remaining five children track on the same schedule as that of the elder child with whom there are problems?  No.  It is possible to have the children on differing schedules dependent on their needs and the relationship.  Of course Brad and Angelina are divorcing elsewhere, I believe California, not Colorado.   Regardless, their case can certainly be viewed through the lens of Colorado family law.

While a custody court is tasked with putting together a parenting plan in the best interests of the children, the court does not necessarily have to treat the children as a unit for parenting time purposes.  There is no one set, best parenting time schedule that is going to fit every family.  In families with two or more children, particularly of different ages, there is a chance that the children may have differing schedules with each parent.    This may be due to school or activities.  It could be due to relationship strains, or just normal development.  Perhaps the younger boy wants is ambivalent as to which parent he is with, while the 14 year old daughter feels like she needs more time with and influence from mom.   In such an instance, it may be in both kids’ best interest to have differing schedules.  If one of the kids in your household has different needs or a different relationship with the other parent, it is important to put that on the proverbial settlement table for discussion, or in front of the court, if need be.  Judges will certainly want to assess why kids might need differing schedules and the gravitational pull of the system, from a normalcy standpoint will generally be to have kids on the same schedule.  In instances in which there may be issues between one parent and a child necessitating a differing schedule from the other, it is likely a court will want any strains addressed through counseling.   At the same time, the court is generally not going to place the desire for uniformity of reality and a child’s individual needs.  I have litigated various cases over the years in which children might be on differing schedules.

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calculator-and-pen-indicating-work-study-1632106By: Curtis Wiberg

When parties are getting a Colorado divorce, each party and the Court need to know what the marital estate consists of. To achieve that, Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 16.2, was enacted requiring each party to disclose just about everything about the financial information they possess. The specifics of what that entails were discussed in detail in a prior article written by this firm.

Since the enactment of Rule 16.2, the Colorado appellate courts have interpreted and applied this rule, and have clarified further what duties of disclosures parties in a divorce or custody matter owe to each other.