Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in Child Custody

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magnifying-glass-1579149-300x226By: Sarah T. McCain


I recently sat around a dinner table with a variety of women in different situations. The one item all shared was that their young children were going to be outside of the home for a period of time. The circumstances varied, ranging from a first sleepover to going to stay at dad’s house for the weekend. However, one item was consistent in that all of the women were deeply curious as to what would go on during this time away and what would be said. In child custody (parental responsibilities) cases, this become even more of an issue, especially when you have concerns that the child(ren) are not being cared for appropriately or when you have concerns that parental alienation may be taking place in the form of the child(ren) hearing negative statements about you or your  home. Continue reading

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Therapy-300x200By:  Jessica A. Bryant

When going through a custody case, or a divorce involving children, in Colorado, you may hear the court, other party, opposing counsel, and/or expert mention “reintegration therapy.” Reintegration therapy can have important, long-lasting implications for you and your children.  Therefore, before taking a position on reintegration therapy (sometimes referred to as “reunification therapy”), it is important for you to know what it is and if it is a good fit for your child custody case and, most importantly, your children.

Reunification therapy is a type of therapeutic interaction between an absent parent and their child(ren) designed to build, or rebuild, the bond between them.  It is may ordered in lieu of parenting time and/or as an initial step before supervised or unsupervised parenting time starts.   It is possible for a parent to have regular parenting time and simultaneously be involved in reunification therapy with the children.  Typically such is not the case and therapy will precede parenting time.   Continue reading

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hand-in-hand-1-1444277-300x226By: Curtis Wiberg

Divorce and child custody cases can be emotionally traumatic events for an entire family, which can result in behaviors by parents that can affect children for a lifetime.  Family law courts in Colorado are cognizant of the lasting psychological scars a child custody case can leave on children, as well as the scars parents’ words and actions can have on them stemming from subtle or overt behaviors not even intended to damage the child by the parents.  One such behavior is the parentification of children (also known as “parentizing”), wherein a parent treats a child as an equal, confiding in a child with adult issues, using children for emotional support, and/or leaning on a child to assume a parental role for younger siblings.   In these cases, a parent might turn to the child to fulfill the parent’s emotional needs or sense of loss as a result of the marriage ending.   In other cases, a parent might burden the child with actual physical tasks, such as caring for that parent or siblings in on form or another.  In essence, the parent places adult emotional burdens and concepts onto the child. When parentification occurs, lines and boundaries get blurred and an enmeshment can exist which, though comforting to the parent seeking to soothe his or her emotional wounds, can negatively impact the child and his or her own identity and sense of self.   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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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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child-custody-300x200By:  Sarah T. McCain

With the myriad of potential new client interactions I have engaged in over the last decade, one of the most often asked requests is “I want to change custody.”  But what does that really mean?  What does it look like?  Generally, people are referring to wanting to change the primary residence of their children from the other parent to themselves.  Denver child custody lawyers know that from a statutory standpoint, this is a feat easier said than done.   To change primary residential custody, circumstances must be just right.

Modifications of parenting time (visitation) and residence in Colorado are covered under Colorado Revised Statute, 14-10-129.   Subsection (2) deals with changes in residence of a child.   There are specific circumstances under which primary residence can be changed, the easiest of which being the parents agreeing to make the change.   If primary residence is changed via agreement it is advisable to memorialize the change via a written stipulation (agreement) filed with the court.   That stipulation should set forth specific terms.   If you are the parent giving up primary residence you have the opportunity to make sure you get orders as favorable as possible to you tied into your parenting time and perhaps child support.  You are making a huge concession giving up your primary residential status and, thus, have a certain degree of bargaining power.  If you are the parent who will be taking primary residential control of the child you should ask to put things into a stipulation memorializing the new arrangement.  If the other parent resists, don’t push.    Get the child into your home first and establish a track record, maybe even a month or two.  If by that point the other parent is still unwilling to sign off on an agreement you might start thinking about filing a motion to modify on your own. Continue reading

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US-Map-300x225By:  Curtis Wiberg

Every state has adopted what is known as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). In cases where parents may reside in different states, this uniform act helps establish which state’s courts have jurisdiction to make determinations affecting the custody of the parties’ minor children.

Once one state’s jurisdiction has been established and custody orders have been entered, C.R.S. § 14-13-202 provides that that state shall have “exclusive, continuing jurisdiction,”  unless….    Generally, as long as one parent remains in the state where the initial custody proceeding occurred, that state shall retain jurisdiction to hear any future custody or visitation issues concerning the minor children.  This is a basic, core provision of the UCCJEA which, in some cases, becomes impractical.

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breakfast-1457900By:  Sarah T. McCain

When it comes to parenting, even the most in sync parents have different styles. This can become even more apparent while going through a divorce or Colorado custody case, when all of your choices are under a microscope.  One area of parenting which can draw scrutiny for parents is the choice of meals given to children.  Yes, “meals.”  Dietary and food preference issues do arise in custody cases and over the years I have seen them.   These types of issues can range from dealing with a dietary medical issue to a parent being just a little too concerned about one too many Big Macs eaten during the other parent’s  visitation.  The real legal question to be addressed is whether a Judge will see the same level of concern that on parent might have and take action based on that concern.

Firstly, it’s important to recognize the eating patterns that took place during your relationship or marriage.  If the type of food provided is the same now as it was during the marriage, many complaints will not be taken seriously.  The Judge or Court will question why it was okay then but not now.  There may be a logical reason for the change in stance on diet and nutrition, but it will definitely need to be succinctly and logically explained for the Court to care.   Judges are extremely wary of people raising concerns in custody case to make the other parent look bad, as opposed to them raising legitimate concerns tied into the children. Continue reading

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the-thinker-by-rodin-1233081By: Jessica Bryant

I recently came across a news article regarding a New York custody case.    The child custody article focused on a case in which a New York judge awarded what was termed “tri-custody” over a child.  The specific background was that a married couple entered into an open relationship with their neighbor.  A child was born from the relationship, with the husband being the biological father and the neighbor being the biological mother.  Prior to any legal proceedings, the parties had agreed that the child would be raised by all three of them, including the wife, who was not the biological mom.  Eventually, though, the wife left husband to be with the neighbor.  This resulted in the husband filing a suit for custody of the child and wife filing for a divorce from him.  Husband and the neighbor agreed to shared custody, but wife filed her own case out of concern that if her relationship with the neighbor fell apart she would have to rely on the neighbor or her ex-husband to allow her to see the child.  The judge ultimately awarded the neighbor (biological mother) primary residential custody, the husband (biological father) weekend time parenting time, and the wife Wednesday nights and one week of vacation during the school year, plus two weeks in the summer. Continue reading

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

In Part 1 of this article, I discussed the basic concept of false allegations of abuse or violence being raise in Colorado custody cases.   This included delving into some of the case specific and systemic consequences or results flowing from people making false allegations.  I also touched on the damage these types of allegations can have on children and their bonds with the accused parents.   Finally, I touched on the fact that false allegations are something that sometimes take time to deal with and, depending on the specific allegations, may require a certain amount of patience.   With years of practicing as a Denver custody attorney under my belt, I have seen enough situations to have formulated the belief that justice has a way of working things out and exposing the lies, in the end.  However, exposing lies and false allegations doesn’t just happen by chance.  In reality, it takes skill, experience, a methodical approach to ultimately refuting those allegations.

In a general sense, the burden of proof regarding false allegations will fall upon the person making them, meaning courts generally adhere to the notion that the person raising an allegation of abuse or violence had better be able to back them up.     Though the accuser may bear that burden to build his or her case up, I am firm believer in the accused taking affirmative, proactive steps to build a case for refuting those allegations.    In reality, some allegations, such as those of a sexual abuse of a child, can lead a court to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach from the onset.  No judge wants to be responsible for allowing potentially dangerous contact.   As such, they may put protections in place, initially, which have the wrongly accused feeling like he or she is already damned in the eyes of the court.   As an empathic person, I wholly understand why they would feel this way.   As a professional, I know that things will need to take their course and that ultimately those false allegations can be undone and turned around.   As indicated in Part 1, it can truly be an exercise in patience.    Between drafting Parts 1 and 2, I came across an article in which it took a man wrongly accused of child abuse over 20 years before the system acknowledged he had one nothing wrong.    This was an extreme case which ended in his parental rights being terminated, but exemplifies the tragic outcome and effect that false allegations can have on a custody case and a parent’s relationship with their children.  Below, I will start discussing how to deal with various allegations and the process people may be faced with. Continue reading