Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
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COURTROOM-224x300By:  Jessica A. Bryant

The goal of this series of blog posts is to help people who have not been through a family law court hearing anticipate what questions they may face from the judge, opposing counsel, or the opposing party during that hearing. Part 1 of this series focused on what questions may be asked during a hearing on supposal and/or child support. In Part 2 of this family law article, focused on what questions may be asked during a hearing regarding child-related issues (decision-making and/or parenting time). This last part will focus on what questions might be asked during a divorce hearing regarding issues of property/debt allocation, attorney’s fees, and other miscellaneous questions that may be faced.

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537972277-300x200By:  Sarah T. McCain

When your case entails contested litigation and moves towards a court hearing, you and the other party will ultimately need to present your evidence and arguments to the judge.   The end result of your hearing will be the entry of orders regarding the various issues. Hearings scheduled by the court can range from as little as thirty minutes to several days.  Post-decree modification hearings might take two hours, while a contested, final divorce hearing could be set for all day.  In all proceedings, the time to present your testimony and arguments (your case) will generally be split equally between the two sides.  As such, it’s  important to make sure that your time is not only used wisely but that you also make the best impression you can while presenting your testimony to the court. Getting to the truth and assessing witness credibility is one of the primary goals of any court proceeding.

Following the testimony of both parties and any other witnesses, the court will provide its order to the parties. During this order, the judge or magistrate will generally make a finding as to the credibility of the parties and any other witnesses. This determination of credibility, or not, could have a significant impact on what the court ultimately concludes.  You may be saying the right things in terms of your story or conveying relevant facts, but if the court does not find you to be credible (truthful), it may not matter.  Some witnesses have built in credibility. These include, but are certainly not limited, to professionals who review the case, public persons, such as police officers, or perhaps neutral witnesses, with no vested interest in the outcome.  As a lay witness with an interest in the hearing, it’s important to make sure your credibility stays intact and there are things that you can do to ensure that your credibility is not questioned.   Continue reading

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Past-Due-300x200By: Curtis Wiberg

In the practice of family law, it’s not too uncommon to come across a case where a parent, who has been ordered to pay child support, did not meet their obligation for many months or even years until the child has become an adult, with the child support never being paid. When the party who was supposed to receive the support then determines they want to pursue collection of the unpaid child support arrears, many legal challenges on both sides of the dispute can arise.   The side of the equation you are on can matter when dealing with old child support orders, including if you the payee having to worry about statute of limitations issues or a laches argument pursuant to Johnson & Johnson, 380 P.3d 150, 156 (Colo. 2016).  If you are the parent who owes, you may face financially crippling repercussions, including wage garnishments, seizure of property, and interest which may very well exceed the principal owed.

The laws regarding Denver child support are generally favorable to the party owed that support. The statute of limitation on enforcing a child support judgment is twenty years from the date of the judgment. Furthermore, each month’s support payment acts as a separate judgment, so that even if part of the child support is older than 20 years old, those months occurring within the last 20 years are still collectible. Continue reading

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Restrainin-300x201By:   Janette Jordan

Protection Orders in Colorado are serious business and can be issued either as part of a stand alone, county court case, or as part of a divorce or custody case.   When dealing with issues of domestic violence, violence, harassments, or threats, the hardest thing to prepare for is in the unknown. For a fair amount of our restraining order clients, obtaining a temporary protection order may be the first time they have had  to navigate the legal system. Below are some common questions that we see hear from people regarding temporary protection orders that may assist those reading this post.

  1. What does it cost to file for a restraining order?
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654679896-AlimBy:   Stephen J. Plog

In Part 1 of this post, I gave a basic introduction into the issue of alimony, called “maintenance” under Colorado statute, reasons why either party might seek to modify maintenance orders, and the legal standard for modification of of alimony set forth in Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-122.

As set forth in Part 1, the general standard to modify alimony is that there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances which renders the current orders for spousal support “unfair.”   When looking at modifying Colorado child support, the “substantial” and “continuing” standard is also applicable, with “substantial” actually being numerically quantified as being a ten (10) percent or more change to the monthly child support figure.   When dealing with a modification of alimony, the ten percent threshold is not applicable.  In fact there is no numerical percentage applied.   Whether a ten percent or more change is suggested by the party seeking to modify their alimony orders, they still have the burden of proving, or convincing the court that the modification they are seeking is needed because the current orders are “unfair.”    Thus, the standard and hurdles are greater when modifying maintenance.   Of course, the analysis begs the question of what does “unfair” mean? Continue reading

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COURTROOM-224x300By:  Jessica A. Bryant

The goal of this series of blog posts is to help people that have not been through a family law hearing anticipate what questions they may face from the judge, opposing counsel or the opposing party during the hearing. Part I of this series focused on what questions may be asked during a hearing on supposal and/or child support. This Part 2 focuses on what questions may be asked during a hearing on child custody related issues (decision-making and/or parenting time). The third part will focus on what questions may be asked during a hearing on issues of property/debt allocation, attorney’s fees, and other miscellaneous questions that may be faced.  Keep in mind that all the forms and instructions available online tied into family law, such as the Colorado divorce instructions on the State Judicial Branch website, might give information on how to proceed with a case, but do not prepare people for what a court hearing is really all about.

Colorado no longer uses the term “custody.” Parental responsibilities are broken up into decision-making responsibility (who makes major decisions for the children) and parenting time (the schedule of time the children have with each parent). When initially deciding decision making and parenting time, the court is governed by the best interest standard set forth in C.R.S. 14-10-124 (several different factors for the court to consider what is best for the child). Therefore, many of the questions in an initial parental responsibilities hearing may be focused around the best interest factors. It is recommended that, when structuring your testimony (the statement you give to the Court) you research the best interest factors and explain to the court how they support your requests. Continue reading

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chasing-the-markets-1241622-300x200By:  Curtis Wiberg

Colorado law requires a Court dividing a marital estate in a divorce to divide the estate “equitably”, meaning fairly. See C.R.S. § 14-10-113. More often than not, an equal division of marital assets is the fairest result and the norm in most cases.  However, equal is not always fair, and a glaring examples of this is evident when one party has built up a PERA retirement account, while the other has paid into Social Security.  This article will focus on PERA, the unequal allocation of marital property after consideration of Social Security benefits, and a 2005 Appellate Court decision.

PERA (Public Employee Retirement Account) accounts are considered, under Colorado law, to be a marital asset. Social Security benefits, on the other hand, are forbidden under federal law from being valued and divided as a marital asset in a divorce. PERA employees, such as teachers or other government workers, receive their benefits built up from their public employment in lieu of Social Security, rather than in addition to Social Security.  Thus, by electing to take part in PERA, they are divested of certain Social Security benefits. Continue reading

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hand-in-hand-1428232-300x211By: Janette Jordan

Congratulations, you have your final adoption hearing scheduled.  To get to this point, you have had to comply with the Colorado Revised Statute 19-5-202 and 203. These statutes provide the basis for who can adopt and who can be adopted. In addition to the Adoption paperwork, proposed orders, and filings, you will have completed your home study, submitted your Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) background checks, and completed your Department of Human Services TRIALS background check.

You may be nervous about what to expect at the final adoption hearing. Presuming that your case is uncontested, meaning no one is challenging your adoption of the minor child, the process is relatively smooth and often cause for celebration. The courts look forward to a non-contested adoption because it is a rare opportunity for them to be a part of solidifying a family unit. Remember, they are faced with nasty divorces, parenting time disputes, and allegations of abuse and misconduct day in and day out. Your case is what they are looking forward to on their docket that day in terms of something positive and good to focus on.

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654679896-AlimIn any Denver divorce, there is the potential for one spouse or other to be awarded alimony, called “maintenance” under Colorado Revised Statutes.     Alimony is designed to provide financial support for a spouse who is unable to meet his or her reasonable financial needs or pay necessary living expenses in light of the parties getting a divorce.   The specific statutory standards for alimony are set forth in C.R.S. 14-10-114.    Pursuant to statute, there are various, enumerated factors court should look at when determining the issue of alimony.  Those can include income of the parties, resources available to them, any disability one spouse might have, whether one party is caring for an extremely young or disabled child, and the standard of living the parties maintained during the marriage.    The court might also look at whether the prospective payer spouse will have the ability to meet his or her own reasonable financial needs while also paying alimony.

Starting in 2014, statute was amended with the Colorado legislature including a formula for calculating alimony for couples making under a combined $360,000 per year adjusted gross income.   A table setting forth duration based on number of months married was also input into the statute.    Though the formula and duration chart are not mandatory, courts are encouraged to follow them and if they do not, they should set forth the reason(s) why.   Of course there are families making more than a combined $360,000 per year and courts are still vested with discretion regarding the issue, though it is much less gray and much more formulaic than in years past.    Of all the factors statute indicates a court should look at, income is the most important.  A  support order for alimony will ultimately be entered, which will set forth the monthly amount (or other payment terms) and duration of the maintenance.   In most cases, after that support order is entered, support is paid pursuant to the terms and the parties move on with their lives.   However, that’s not the end of the story.   As with any situation in life, things can change.   Statute acknowledges this by affording people the opportunity to modify their alimony orders in certain situations, both as to amount and duration. Continue reading

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liqueur-9-1525927By:  Curtis Wiberg

We’ve previously written about legal strategies when in the midst of divorce proceedings when one spouse is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem and its affect on a custody case. This article discusses alcohol abuse and dependency in general, tips for saving a marriage (if possible), and resources if those attempts fail.

According to a recent study, alcohol is the most abused drug in the country. One study states that 1 in 12 Americans suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. That staggering statistic obviously impacts many marriages, and a fair number of divorces that Denver divorce attorneys might deal with.

Part of the difficulty with alcoholism is knowing when your spouse has crossed the line from social drinker to abuser. Is your spouse exhibiting a compulsion to drink, unable to abstain, exhibiting symptoms of alcohol dependence like nausea, shakiness, or anxiety, or acting dangerously or impulsively when drinking? If so, it may behoove you to discuss your concerns with your spouse and determine if an alcohol assessment is appropriate. Continue reading