Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
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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:

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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.

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soldier-and-child-1550984-200x300By:  Jessica A. Bryant

Serving in the military can have unique impacts on your Colorado divorce or custody proceeding ranging from questions as to the proper state in which to file, special protections for service members, and questions regarding retirement account division. In Part 1, I discussed the impact military service has on the state of filing and the protections afforded to military service members. This second part focuses on financial issues that are unique to military service and the effect deployment can have on parenting time.

 

 

 

Financials Issues

One area unique to divorces where one or both parties are members of the military is the division of retirement accounts. Military members who serve a minimum of twenty years are entitled to pension benefits. Federal law allows the Court to divide a military retirement account if a variety of factors are met. This is a very technical area but two main requirements that must be met are that the parties must have been married for at least ten years overlapping the parties military service (i.e. for a ten year marriage the military member must have served all ten years for the court to be able to order direct division of the retirement account). Furthermore the military member must reside in the state not due to military orders, claim the state as his or her state of legal residence, or agree to the court’s jurisdiction before the court has the authority to divide the retirement plan. By way of example, let’s say a wife wants to get divorced, she and her child have lived in Colorado at least six months, husband, a military member, lives in Kansas but wife was able to get him served in Colorado when he came out for a visit. In those circumstances, even though Colorado has the jurisdiction to grant the divorce, decide custody, spousal support, child support and generally divide property and debt, Colorado would not be able to order the division of husband’s military retirement account unless husband agrees. Continue reading

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

When starting the practice of law almost two decades ago, the issues of truth, perjury, and false claims were something I may have heard about in law school, or perhaps seen on TV or in a movie.   Scenes of the witness on the stand or the accident victim faking injury to score the big jury verdict were as close to falsehoods permeating the judicial system as I might have seen.   Fast forwarding to the present day, I have now had the ability to witness, firsthand, individuals blatantly lying to the court.  Lies regarding child abuse in a custody case are perhaps more devastating than in any other legal arena.

As relates to custody litigation, the lies almost always relate to either abuse of a child or domestic violence.   They are usually set forth in either an emergency motion to restrict parenting time (visitation) or in a complaint for a restraining order, whether directly in the custody case or as a separate county court protection order case.   Sometimes, they might be lies told to a child and family investigator or during a parental responsibilities evaluation.  Most Denver custody attorneys represent men and women on both sides of the equation.  As such, I have represented many people, over the years, who have been falsely accused of heinous, hurtful, or disgusting acts.  As their attorney, the challenging task is to expose the untrue allegations to the court.   This is sometimes easier said than done and requires insight and knowledge into what courts are looking for and how to expose the lies.   This insight comes with both experience and good analysis of the facts and evidence at hand. Continue reading

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naptime-1314183By:  Sarah T. McCain

At the commencement of the New Year, various revisions to Colorado child support statute came into effect. Changes to the ability to claim a non-joint child on the child support worksheet was covered in a prior blog post.  The other revisions to this statute, while seemingly small in nature, should be reviewed to ensure that they are properly addressed. If they apply to you, it is important to take advantage of these changes.

When you are putting together a Separation Agreement or custody stipulation and child support is at issue, you will find yourself putting together a child support worksheet. This worksheet will provide you with an end figure that is the proposed amount to be paid on a monthly basis. A Court will follow this figure closely but there are avenues for change to the bottom line monthly amount. Colorado Revised Statute, Section 14-10-115(8)(e) covers deviations from the child support guidelines. Prior to January 1, 2017, the language covering this allowed for specific deviations as stated as follows: Continue reading

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boy-at-park-1432810By:  Curtis Wiberg

In Part 1 of this article, I discussed some of the concerns that can arise related to exchanging children for court ordered visitation (parenting time).   This included some discussion regarding conflicts which can arise and ways to alleviate those conflicts with well written, detailed orders.  In this Part 2, I will continue the discussion by touching on additional exchange topics such as children not wanting to go with the other parent and the use of new significant others or family members for those exchanges.

As indicated in part one, the primary goal of any parenting time exchange expected by the court should be making sure the transfer of the child has as little impact on the child as possible.   This can generally be accomplished with parents either being committed to getting along in front of the child, or perhaps having no contact at all.

Sadly, some parents like the conflict, and use the parenting time exchange, including the drive to the exchange, to work a child into clinginess or a tantrum.  They might then point to the child’s upset at going with the other parent as “proof” that the other parent is unfit or a lesser parent. This is a form of parental alienation, and neither parent should use the parenting time exchange as a battleground to win your custody case. You are actually more likely to do more harm than good to your custody case if you do play games at exchanges and get called out on it. Continue reading

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military
By:  Jessica A. Bryant

Serving in the military can have unique impacts on your Colorado custody or divorce proceeding ranging from questions as to the proper state in which to file, special protections for service members, and questions regarding retirement account division. The first part of this article will address the impact military service has on the state of filing and the protections afforded to military service members. The second part will focus on financial issues that are unique to military service and the effect deployment can have on parenting time.

Before a case is even started, serving in the military can cause unique questions in terms of where to file your family law case. If you are seeking a divorce, you must be “domiciled” in Colorado for more than 90 days before you can file. Domicile basically means that Colorado must have been your state of permanent residence for at least 91 days before you can seek a divorce in Denver, Colorado. However, being stationed in Colorado is not sufficient to make it your state of permanent residence. One question is which state was designated on your State of Legal Residence Certificate. Other facts the Court can look to in order to overcome such designation include: the state in which the military member is registered to vote, has a driver’s license, filed taxes, intends to remain long-term, and/or registered his or her vehicle. However, vehicle registration alone may not be sufficient to show permanent residency as some military members register a vehicle in Colorado but complete an Affidavit of Nonresidence for tax purposes. Thus, before filing a divorce case in Colorado, you need to comprehensively look at the facts and ensure there is sufficient evidence of permanent residency for at least 90 days. Even if Colorado is not the state of permanent residence (for example, the military member is stationed here but intends to return to another state after such is complete) as long as the children have been in Colorado for at least 6 months, Colorado will be the state in which custody has to be determined. Therefore, it is possible that Colorado will be determining the custody issues while another state determines spousal support, allocation of property and debts, and grants the dissolution.

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By:  Curtis Wiberg

In a Colorado custody case, whether it’s a divorce or allocation of parental rights case, one of the details people often overlook in their parenting plan or orders is how to handle the parenting time exchanges of the minor children from one parent to the other. Though one might think that parents will have the ability to figure out transferring the children from one to another on their own, the reality is that without detailed language governing exchanges, ambiguity and confusion can make that which should be simple a source of debate and contention.  Because of this, it is normal for Denver custody attorneys to build in specific language regarding how and when parenting time exchanges shall occur.    There is no one right answer as to how parenting time exchanges should be conducted.

If the parents can remain relatively amicable, and open lines of communication are available, parenting time exchanges usually aren’t too big of an issue. Even in these amicable cases though, it’s important that issues like fairness in travel time and costs are considered so that resentments don’t build up.  Irregular work schedules, rush hour traffic, extracurricular activities, before and after school care, and the costs associated with these things can tax the patience of one or both parties.  On the uglier end of the spectrum, I have seen cases in which parenting time exchanges need to take place in a secure setting, neutral setting, or supervised setting, perhaps due to domestic violence, behavioral issues, or substance abuse.   Of course, these are the outliers on that spectrum.

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Parent TeacherBy:  Sarah T. McCain

When you begin the process of dividing parenting time between two homes, everyday tasks often take on different challenges. This would include, but is not limited to, dealing with the different professionals that assist you and your children, such as their pediatrician, counselors, and teachers. It is important to make sure these professionals have the very best impression of you as a parent, as it may become important should their role become a point of conflict, or should they be called to testify in court.

First, in dealing with your child’s medical care, it’s important to be involved. During many marriages, one parent deals with the care of the child(ren), notifying the other parent at the conclusion of any appointments. When a divorce is filed, we often see one parent left out and struggling to become involved. This parent is often waiting to receive the notices that they were used to receiving, only to become frustrated with the lack of information that they receive.  Sometimes, that parent may also be accused of being an uninvolved or disinterested parent.  The best way to not only receive vital information, but to also make a good impression on the court as to your involvement, is to be proactive. Find out when appointments are scheduled and try to attend. If you are unable to attend, ask for a report following the appointment.  Pursuant to Colorado statute, C.R.S. 14-10-123.8, each parent is entitled to receive information from doctors, schools, etc. Continue reading