Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
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christmas-lights-1170712-300x225By 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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house-for-sale-1236738-300x203By:  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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boston-airport-1449451-300x226By: 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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gavel-1238036-300x201By: 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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waste-paper-1240618By: 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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handshake-1238138-300x200By:  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

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unique-1-1209075By Michelle L. Searcy

In my most recent article, I discussed methods of your assuring separate property remains separate in terms of preserving good evidence for use in a dissolution of marriage (divorce) case.  However, Colorado statutes still define marital property as including increases in the value of separate property during the marriage.  Since often separate property consists of investment assets, this results not only in the difficulty in proving pre-marital value but in the possibility of being required to pay the other spouse their share of the increase in value.  In this blog post, I will discuss how parties to a marriage and/or divorce can avoid such difficulties through valid marital agreements. Continue reading

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law-series-4-1467436-300x226By:  Jessica A. Saldin

In prior, recent blog posts, I overviewed both the impact the federal tax changes will have on maintenance (alimony) awards starting January 2019, as well as the revisions to Colorado’s maintenance and child support laws to account for the tax code changes.  The purpose of this blog post is to provide concrete examples of the difference between the pre-August-2018 maintenance and child support laws and the new ones which started this month.  

Since the statutory changes are going to have more of an effect on maintenance awards entered after December 31, 2018 (any maintenance awards entered before that date would remain tax deductible for the payor) this blog post will use the 2019 minimum wage amount for the first scenario.  Beginning January 1, 2019, Colorado minimum wage increases to $11.10 per hour.  This is most applicable for situations where a party is not working and can be imputed income (see prior blog posts to determine when this may be appropriate). Continue reading

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hello-my-name-is-1244204-300x214By: Janette Jordan

There are two types of name changes that occur in a family law case: the restoration of the Wife’s name to her maiden name or other previous name and the changing of the name of a minor child in a divorce or custody case.

In a divorce case, if you are the party seeking to have your maiden or other name restored you should indicate such in either the divorce petition or the response, depending on your status in the case. That being said, you do not have to make the decision right away, but it helps to indicate from the beginning that this is something you are considering.  So long as you raise the issue with the court prior to the decree of dissolution entering you can change your name as part of the proceedings.  It should be noted that the other side has no say or control in terms of your requested name change.  Fortunately, statute (C.R.S. 14-10-120.2) also authorizes the filing of a request to restore a maiden name after the decree enters, should someone change their mind later on. Continue reading

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racing-2-1514432-300x226By: W. Curtis Wiberg

In a divorce case, a higher income earning spouse may be “on the hook”  to pay maintenance (alimony) and child support. There are divorces, however, in which this higher income earning spouse is in his or her sixties and nearing retirement age. Some dads have children when they are in their fifties, or later. In other cases, a divorcing couple, after a longer term marriage, splits up after their children are adults, thereby leaving spousal maintenance as the sole support issue to be determined.  The question arises in these cases as to whether that higher income earning spouse is going to be able to retire when reaching retirement age or whether the law requires that spouse to keep the income rolling in regardless of that his or her age.  Prior to changes in statute, there was already case law supporting the notion that there was a valid correlation between retirement and modifying support obligations. Statute now codifies such notions.

The Colorado Legislature has addressed this issue in C.R.S. 14-10-122, which states: