Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
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157635691-300x202By:  Sarah McCain

In December 2017, an article was posted on the firm blog reviewing some important tips to keep in mind prior to becoming involved in a custody matter. That posting reviewed only a few examples of what can take place in those types of domestic relations cases.  Though that posting only related to child custody issues, it could be relevant as relates to a divorce with children.  Of course, there are more preparatory issues to think about in a divorce.  When you’re looking at a dissolution of your marriage, there are additional items to make sure you have in line before you file or when a divorce is initiated by the other party.

First, if you are thinking of filing for divorce, it is not the time to make extravagant purchases for yourself. It is also not the time to begin transferring funds from any type of financial account. This falls under a term called “dissipation of martial assets.” The court will look at these expenditures or transfers to determine whether that financial exchange was done in an effort to keep the funds from the other person or done in anticipation of filing for divorce. For example, if you transfer $50,000 from a savings account just prior to filing for divorce, with the intention of keeping that money from your spouse, it is likely that the court will order you to reimburse the other party their share of the funds. Depending on the circumstances, it is even possible that the court could order that more than 50% be reimbursed to the other party, thereby giving them a greater share. Essentially, the idea of trying to hide money from your spouse could completely backfire and result in your receiving less than an equal share of the marital estate.  Additionally,  once you have filed for divorce, or have been served, hiding assets would be a violation of the C.R.S. 14-10-107 (4)(b)(I) divorce injunction. Continue reading

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By:  Curtis Wiberg

A divorce is a giant upheaval, and the challenges of maintaining your career while going through a divorce and adjusting to a new personal life and routine can be one of the biggest challenges.

There is of course the emotional upheaval associated with a divorce. Divorce stress can greatly affect motivation, concentration, sleep and appetite.

There is also the related embarrassment of a personal issue becoming common knowledge among your employers and colleagues.

Some of the questions you should ask yourself as you are going through a divorce include whether to even let your bosses know about the divorce. Your specific situation probably dictates whether and how to approach your employer with the news that you are going through a divorce.  I have seen many clients who’ve been able to rely on their employers as a major asset in the process. For instance, in cases involving custody issues, sitting down with your boss to discuss flexible scheduling and working remotely for the purpose of dropping off or picking up kids from school can help you present to the court as being fully able to assume primary or equal parenting time. Continue reading

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New-Year-300x200By: Janette Jordan

New Years 2018 is upon us.  It’s that time of year again for reflection and new beginnings. We all have room to grow and improve, especially when you’re attempting to co-parent through a divorce, or even after. The holidays can be an especially difficult time and every person’s situation is different.  Poor and negative communication can only make the situation work.   Today, there are many ways of communicating, whether via phone, email, text, or a third party parental communication site.   Regardless of the media, how things are stated still matters, and venom can also come through in written words.  When it comes to communicating with your ex about the kids, here are some things to consider.

Tone & Language:  I tell every client that comes through my door, “communicate with the other party as if a judge is looking over your shoulder,” because typically, that’s what will end up happening when you have a dispute that the courts need to resolve. No matter how frustrated you may get, you should avoid using derogatory language, even if the other side “started it first”. Poor parenting behavior is often the first accusation made in contested child custody cases and you want to make sure your communications do not support that. Only you can control how you respond. Continue reading

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price-tag-1240865-300x180By:  Jessica A. Bryant

I’ve yet to meet a single person who jumps for joy at the notion of going through a divorce and incurring costs as a result. Oftentimes, people ask what their case is going to cost them. Given so many unknowns and independent variables, I am generally left giving a range of potentials. Though I wish there was always clarity in the projected financial cost for a divorce and will always be upfront with clients about such matters, the reality is that it’s just not possible to give an accurate, exact figure for what their final charges might be. However, while reading news stories on the internet a couple of weeks ago, I came across a story which was, at least, insightful and may give me a little more ability to be more specific.  That story related to a recent divorce study showed that Colorado is the 9th most expensive state for a divorce. According to this study, the average divorce Colorado divorce costs $14,500 and the average attorney’s fees are $11,400 (which is the 10th highest in the country). In comparison, according to the same study, the cheapest state in which to get a divorce is Montana, with the average divorce there costing $8,400 and the average attorney’s fees being $6,600. The most expensive state in which to get a divorce is California, with the average divorce costing $17,500 and the average attorney’s fees being $13,800. Continue reading

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kids-1575435By:  Curtis Wiberg

One provision many parents use when formulating a parenting plan is what is commonly known as a “Right of First Refusal.” Essentially what this provision requires of each parent is that when one parent is unable to exercise the parenting time that they have been awarded, that parent must contact the other parent to give the other parent the option of spending that time with the kids before the parent that is unable to exercise his or her parenting time can be allowed to make other arrangements for the care of the children (e.g.: relatives, babysitters, etc.).

Typically, the parties agree to have the provision apply for overnight parenting time. So, as an example, Mom gets called away on a business trip at the last minute that will keep her from watching her kids on the Monday and Tuesday overnight that week. With a right of first refusal provision, Mom would be required to contact Dad and ask him if he wanted those overnights. Only if Dad declines can Mom then contact a different caregiver to watch the children while she is away.  Though right of first refusal provisions are certainly still enforceable, subsequent to a 2007 Court of Appeals decision, it became much less common place for a court to order them absent an agreement between the parents. Continue reading

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Ready-300x210By:  Sarah McCain

When an initial allocation of parental responsibilities, or more commonly known as a “custody” case, is filed involving your child or children, it is possible that you are caught off guard. However, in most cases, disagreements between parents or a natural unraveling of a relationship will give you a good heads up that a case is on the horizon. It may also be a modification of the current situation wherein you are filing the request to the court to make a change. In these circumstances, it is important to make sure that you are one hundred percent ready to proceed in what will likely be a difficult case. This includes being ready both with your arguments and for the emotional strain that can take place not only on you, but on your kids as well.  Preparing for a Colorado child custody case entails so much more than just filling out forms and filing them with the court.  Are you ready?

Initially, it is probably best to sit down with a family law attorney to discuss your specific situation. An experienced attorney may be able to direct you as to what documentation or evidence you should be compiling and what individuals you should start including in your life to ensure that you are able to make a solid argument. For example, if you are making an argument that the children are suffering emotionally due to the parenting time of the other parent, it is important to note that proving emotional harm can be difficult. Having a therapist on board seeing your child or children before the motion is filed may be beneficial for you. A therapist is then prepared to support you in court through testimony, written reports, or interaction with a child custody expert.  Child custody cases can involve a great amount of thought, detail, evidence, and preparation.   Making sure you are prepared is a step in the right direction. Continue reading

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3d-illustration-mobile-technology-mobile-phone-1412071By: Jessica A. Bryant

As technology advances, it also impacts the way parties to a Denver family law case may try to present evidence to the court. However, these advancements are not always for the better. One major development is the creation of cell phone apps that purport to allow you to print off the text message from your phone. These apps make it sound perfect for a court proceeding- what better way to present your text message evidence to the court than through an app that coverts your text messages into one complete document? The problem with these apps is the method by which they convert the text messages to be printed out. If you try using such an app, you will find that what is printed out is basically a document of typed conversations. It really looks no different than what you could create in a word processed document. In other words, it is not as if the app is printing the text messages as depicted on your phone. The app converts the text message format and, through this conversion, changes the reliability/authenticity of the text message conversation.

In order to admit a document into evidence, pursuant to the Colorado Rules of Evidence, the court needs it to be authenticated.  In other words, the court typically needs a witness to confirm that the document is what it purports to be. However, getting a document admitted is only the first step. Once a document is admitted the court gets to decide how much weight it gives a particular document.  In other words, a report from an impartial expert on the case, who may have conducted a detailed investigation, met with the parties, the children, and made insightful recommendations to the court, may be given significantly more weight than a letter from a party’s mother saying they are a great parent. Both documents may be admitted because the expert and mother confirmed the submitted document was what the attorney was claiming it to be. That does not mean, though, that the judge will view both documents with the same amount of consideration. Continue reading

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working-with-laptop-3-1545962-300x226By:  Curtis Wiberg

The telephone is an amazing way to keep in touch with children.  Skype, Facetime, Facebook video messaging, and other social media applications have made remote communication even more amazing.  In a divorce situation with kids involved, video communication has taken a lot of the sting of being separated from children for a lengthy period of time away.

At the beginning of my career, I dictated my letters and court pleadings onto cassette tapes, to secretaries who could type 100+ words per minute (and who were the only employees that had computers on their desk), and the fax machine (with the shiny white roll-up paper) was the revolutionary device that was changing the world.  To think that 20 plus years later, my clients could talk in real time to their children from anywhere in the world would have been unfathomable. But in those 20 years, we’ve gone from the unfathomable to the common, where video parenting time is almost invariably in every divorce parenting plan.  And, it is largely beneficial for all involved. Continue reading

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professor-at-work-1430040By: Janette Jordan

According to the Colorado Judicial Branch 2016 Annual Statistical Report, starting at page 32, there were 34,966 family law court filings in 2016.   In speaking with court clerks, some will say that up to 70 percent of those are done by people without attorneys.  We’ve written on the subject of proceeding without an attorney several years ago, but I figured an update was in order. The legal system is a unique area of practice in that it allows for individuals to represent themselves (a term referred to as appearing “pro se”) in a Court of Law. This holds true for Denver family law cases. However, the court will still hold them to the same standard as a practicing, licensed attorney. So, what do you do when you find yourself being brought to court or needing to take someone to court with a family law dispute?

It takes two to tango and the same can be said for a non-contested case. More often than not, there are going to be issues that the parties cannot agree on or may be entirely unaware of.  The court cannot give you legal advice, so where do you turn to ensure that your rights and interests are being protected? That’s where having an attorney is invaluable. Having an an experienced family law attorney in your corner adds that extra layer of protection and insight.

The unfortunate reality is that conflict has a cost. Abraham Lincoln said, “A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade.” Attorneys do not work for free and they cannot finance your case for you. However, the way I recommend clients look at it is as an investment in their future. You are retaining an attorney for their expertise and ability to get you through this process. A majority of the work that I do on a daily basis is trying to undue or fix past outcomes because a person did not have a lawyer and tried to do it themselves. Some of the hardest cases for me to turn down are ones where a person calls because they have a final hearing coming up last minute and are not prepared.  If available, I will certainly take those cases on.   However, when an attorney is not available for a last minute hearing, the litigant may end up having to do the case on their own.  The hope and goal are that you only have to go through this process once, so let’s do it right the first time. Continue reading

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dictionary-1426438-300x226By: Stephen J. Plog

As a Denver divorce lawyer, I regularly meet with people in need of help with their family law cases.   With each meeting, I have to be conscious of each person’s level of awareness when discussing the legal aspects of their case.   After almost twenty years of practicing  family law, it’s easy to forget that to the person going through their first introduction to the world of divorce, the common phrases that attorneys use may sound like complete gibberish unless explained.  The soup of divorce related terms which might cause confusion for the person going through divorce for the first time is no more intelligible than if I were talking to a computer technician or mechanic about the specific parts of a computer’s CPU or the specifics of how a to rebuild a car engine.   Below I will list some of the common terms one might hear when going through a divorce, with the intent of educating so as to help readers make sense of some of the words they might hear, yet not fully understand.

Petition:   A petition is the initial document filed in a divorce case.  It lets the court know a brand new case is being started.  For divorce, the petition is called a “petition for dissolution of marriage.”   In a custody case it would be called a “petition for allocation of parental responsibilities.”   Petitions must be personally served upon the other party, along with a “summons.”  Once petition and summons are personally served, the court has jurisdiction over the second party to the case. Continue reading