Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in Child Custody

Published on:

stork-2-1310593-300x211By: Curtis Wiberg

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

Published on:

By:  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

Published on:

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

Published on:

By: Curtis Wiberg

In our mobile society, it is not an uncommon occurrence for parents to obtain custody orders in one state, and for both parents and the children to later reside in other states, soon after.  This can make resolution of subsequent conflicts involving parenting time (visitation) complicated.

Every state in the country has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) to address these parenting time or custody issues that involve multiple states, which gives parents and courts predictability as these multi-state issues arise.

Generally speaking, the UCCJEA provides a series of guidelines such that only one state can have subject matter jurisdiction or authority to determine custody orders at a time.  This is known as the “home state”, and it is usually determined by the state where a minor child has resided for the most recent six continuous months prior to the initial court custody filing.  Once a state assumes home state jurisdiction, that home state has exclusive home state jurisdiction to modify custody orders until such time as both parents and the children no longer reside in the home state, or because the home state becomes an inconvenient forum and gives up it’s exclusive jurisdiction.   Interstate jurisdictional authorization for a court to establish, modify, or enforce a child custody order differs, depending on the circumstances. Continue reading

Published on:

By: Jessica A. Bryant

There has been a recent push in Colorado by parents requesting a free range parenting law.  This type of law was recently passed in Utah (the first state to pass such a law).  The reasoning for such type of law is to provide some sort of clarity for parents that want to teach their children more independence without the risk of being charged with child abuse or neglect.  In Colorado, the child abuse/neglect laws are vague, which allows the Department of Human Services to exercise discretion in an investigation when deciding if something should be pursued as child abuse or neglect, or not.  For example, Colorado does not have a specific age as to when a child can be left home alone- it is simply judged on a reasonableness standard.  However, that same vagueness creates uncertainty for parents that want to allow their children freedom to exercise independence by walking home from school or riding their bike to the park, for example.  If passed, this type of law would have obvious effects on child abuse and neglect cases.  However, it could also have effects on Colorado divorce and custody cases.  Continue reading