Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in Child Custody

Published on:

leisure-1356172-300x218By:  Sarah T. McCain

In the past several years there has been a renewed focus on mental health care and those going through divorces or custody cases are not immune to those issues. It is incredibly common for a parent to seek the assistance of a therapist to discuss these often complicated emotional issues. Children are not immune to emotional or mental health issues either, especially when their parents are in the midst of high conflict cases.  If raised to a court that a child is struggling, it would not be unheard of for a professional involved with the case, such as a Child and Family Investigator, or the court itself, to suggest that a child be involved some sort of therapy to deal with the divorce related issues.  Therapy is generally seen as beneficial for children going through a divorce so that they have a third person outlet to talk to.  Until recently, parents were really in charge of the mental health process in terms of counseling, communication with counselors, access to information, etc. for children under the age of 16.   Additionally, children over 16 had their own rights as related to therapy and confidentiality.  This has now changed.

With the rise of mental health issues among children of younger and younger ages and the rise of suicide as the leading cause of death for Colorado youth ages ten through fourteen, Colorado has taken measures to ensure that children have every opportunity to access mental health assistance. 

Published on:

whistle-1505616-300x226By:  Sarah T. McCain

In cases involving  child custody, especially those of a high conflict nature, you may hear the term “PCDM” mentioned as you near the end of litigation or settlement communications. It is often the recommendations of a Child and Family Investigator or Parental Responsibilities Evaluation that open discussions regarding whether to appoint a PCDM to a case.  However, you must first know what a PCDM is before you can assess whether one would be beneficial to you and to your family before making this commitment. 

A PCDM is a parenting coordinator/decision maker. You can appoint one person to fill this role and, once appointed, they may remain in this position for a period of up to two years, though their appointment can be terminated earlier by agreement of the parties or order of the court.   Appointments generally begin following the conclusion of a case and once court orders concerning parenting time and parental responsibilities have been entered. The role of the PC/DM is actually two different roles and a person can be appointed to do either, or, or both.  Parenting Coordinators and Decision Makers have different rules, functions, and consequences (for the parties). Continue reading

Published on:

documents-1427202-300x226By: Stephen J. Plog

Having spoken with thousands of people over the years regarding their Colorado divorce and child custody cases, one common topic of discussion is that of evidence, within the context of what can or cannot be used in court.  There are many common misbeliefs about what is good evidence, meaning something the court can accept and use for purposes of formulating its ruling.   For example, sometimes people ask whether it would help for them to have friends or other third persons write letters, whether attesting to an event they’ve witnessed or perhaps as to someone’s “character.”   Each time this is asked, I am compelled to let people know that letters from third persons are not going to be helpful (generally) and are going to be considered inadmissible hearsay.  The second part of my response is always going to be that we will need the potential letter writer to attend court to testify.  The Colorado Rules of Evidence dictate what is or is not going to be admissible evidence in a divorce or child custody case.    In this blog post, I will attempt to give a basic tutorial regarding what will or won’t be admitted. Continue reading

Published on:

globe-1419902By: Sarah T. McCain

When you commence either a divorce case or a child custody case in Colorado, you will inevitably hear the word “jurisdiction.” Though this term is mentioned in more detail in other blog posts, in summary, the term is referring to personal and subject matter jurisdiction. To acquire personal jurisdiction in Colorado, there must be service in Colorado, the other party agrees to have their matter heard in Colorado, or long arm jurisdiction applies.

To acquire subject matter jurisdiction in a divorce, the court must find that one or both of the spouses has lived in the state for a period of 91 days prior to the case being filed. This is pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-106 and 107. Jurisdiction for child custody cases in Colorado and most states (Massachusetts is excluded) is determined by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act found in C.R.S. 14-13-101. This is most often referred to as the “UCCJEA.” For custody cases, only subject matter jurisdiction is necessary, which is acquired when a child resides in Colorado for 182 days, or more.  The citizenship or immigration status of a party is generally not relevant to determining jurisdiction in either a divorce or a custody case.  When dealing with international child custody issues and a child taken out of the U.S., both state and federal laws may be needed to get that child back.  Continue reading

Published on:

stork-2-1310593-300x211

A relatively new concept for divorcing couples with children is a concept known as “nesting” or a “bird’s nest” parenting plan arrangement.  

What nesting entails is the parents sharing a residence to promote stability for the parties’ children. In a nesting arrangement, the parties split time at the marital residence while the children stay full time at that same marital residence.  The appeal to such an arrangement is obvious  — the children get to sleep in the same bed every night, stay in the same neighborhood, stay in the same school, and the only adjustment they have to make is that only one of the two parents is caring for them at night instead of both parents.  In some nesting arrangements, the divorcing couple share the same “other” residence for those nights when they are not with the children, saving money.  Also economical in such an arrangement is that the parents do not need to buy extra clothes, furniture, toys, etc. for each household. Continue reading

Published on:

reporter-tools-2-1560026-300x226By: Jessica A. Saldin

Whenever there are custody issues in your family law case, one question to always consider is whether a CFI or PRE would help your case.  Prior blog posts have explained what these individuals are and when they may be helpful.  Once they are appointed to the case, though, it is natural to question what to expect after that appointment.

The very first step is to make sure the expert is made aware of their appointment- you need to make sure that someone sends the order of appointment to the expert.  The court does not typically do this, so either you or the other party need to email the order over to the expert to make sure they are aware of the appointment.  With the order, the expert also typically likes to receive any pleadings related to parenting time or the relevant issues (i.e., any prior orders, parenting plans, agreements, motions, responses, replies, etc.).

Within seven days of their appointment, these individuals must disclose whether they have any familial, financial or social relationships with any of the parties to the case, the attorneys on the case or the judicial officers on the case.  Once you receive this disclosure, if the Child and Family Investigator or Parental Responsibilities Evaluator has disclosed any type of relationship, you have seven days to object to that expert on the basis of the information in the disclosure.  If you do not object within seven days you have waived your ability to object to their appointment on the basis of that information.  If you do object, the court will then decide if someone else should be appointed or if the information does not rise to the level of needing to remove the expert. Continue reading

Published on:

gavel-5-1236432-300x200By Michelle L. Searcy

Whether you have been served with a family law case or have initiated one, in Colorado, your first court appearance will be an initial status conference.  While the purpose of this meeting is to give you important information about your responsibilities in the case, it is also your opportunity to request a Temporary Orders hearing.

The purpose of Temporary Orders is to preserve the status quo and assure that financial and parenting issues will be temporarily resolved while the case is pending.  Whether to ask for a Temporary Orders hearing requires an honest assessment of your circumstances.  If you are married, do you earn enough money to pay your bills with or without help from your spouse? If not, do you have access to enough marital money to pay the bills?  Who will remain in the house?  How will you share time with the children?  If you are both in agreement on these types of issues, you may not need a Temporary Orders hearing.  To protect those agreements, you may submit those agreements in written form, asking the court to make them enforceable orders. Continue reading

Published on:

school-4-1514478-300x226By:  Jessica A. Saldin

There are many issues related to education and school that must be considered as part of a divorce case.  Prior blog posts have discussed some of these issues.  This post is specifically focused on private schooling and how the issue may be treated as part of your divorce case.  There are several questions that you may have if you are considering private schooling for your children while going through a divorce.  

One of the first questions may be, “can I enroll my children in a private school?”  This question is related to general questions about educational decision making responsibility.  Courts in Colorado tend to find that joint decision making responsibility is in a child’s best interests unless there are specific circumstances that cause the court to find otherwise (for example, in situations of domestic violence, if one parent refuses to communicate regarding decisions, etc.).  Therefore, if you already have orders delegating educational decision making responsibility, the decision of the school in which you enroll the child must be made in accordance with the delegation in your orders.  If you do not have orders regarding decision making, it is always best to try to reach an agreement with the other parent.  Even if there is not an order requiring joint decision making responsibility, courts prefer to see parties that try to reach decisions jointly.  Simply making a unilateral decision can adversely affect the decision making orders the court eventually enters.  However, you also need to keep in mind that, if you are requesting sole decision making responsibility because of domestic violence, lack of responses from the other parent, etc., if a joint decision is made on the issue that could be considered by the court as evidence that joint decision making responsibility is best for the minor child. Continue reading

Published on:

By 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

Published on:

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