Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in Child Custody

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mother-reading-a-book-to-children-1438086-300x199By:   Sarah T. McCain

There are many ways in which the third parties in your life may impact a child custody determination. It is important to carefully weigh each role these individuals play in your life and the interaction they have with your child(ren).  Friends, neighbors, romantic partners, and family members could impact your child custody case.   Each of these individuals could not only be called to testify, but could also be interviewed by a child custody expert, such as Child and Family Investigators (CFI) or Parental Responsibilities Evaluators (PRE).   Negative things any of them do could be used against you when it comes time to determine things like residential custody or parenting time.  When starting parenting time or child custody litigation, it’s always a good idea to think about who’s going to be around your kids and what effect that interaction could have. Continue reading

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New-Year-300x200By: Janette Jordan

New Years 2018 is upon us.  It’s that time of year again for reflection and new beginnings. We all have room to grow and improve, especially when you’re attempting to co-parent through a divorce, or even after. The holidays can be an especially difficult time and every person’s situation is different.  Poor and negative communication can only make the situation work.   Today, there are many ways of communicating, whether via phone, email, text, or a third party parental communication site.   Regardless of the media, how things are stated still matters, and venom can also come through in written words.  When it comes to communicating with your ex about the kids, here are some things to consider.

Tone & Language:  I tell every client that comes through my door, “communicate with the other party as if a judge is looking over your shoulder,” because typically, that’s what will end up happening when you have a dispute that the courts need to resolve. No matter how frustrated you may get, you should avoid using derogatory language, even if the other side “started it first”. Poor parenting behavior is often the first accusation made in contested child custody cases and you want to make sure your communications do not support that. Only you can control how you respond. Continue reading

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kids-1575435By:  Curtis Wiberg

One provision many parents use when formulating a parenting plan is what is commonly known as a “Right of First Refusal.” Essentially what this provision requires of each parent is that when one parent is unable to exercise the parenting time that they have been awarded, that parent must contact the other parent to give the other parent the option of spending that time with the kids before the parent that is unable to exercise his or her parenting time can be allowed to make other arrangements for the care of the children (e.g.: relatives, babysitters, etc.).

Typically, the parties agree to have the provision apply for overnight parenting time. So, as an example, Mom gets called away on a business trip at the last minute that will keep her from watching her kids on the Monday and Tuesday overnight that week. With a right of first refusal provision, Mom would be required to contact Dad and ask him if he wanted those overnights. Only if Dad declines can Mom then contact a different caregiver to watch the children while she is away.  Though right of first refusal provisions are certainly still enforceable, subsequent to a 2007 Court of Appeals decision, it became much less common place for a court to order them absent an agreement between the parents. Continue reading

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Ready-300x210By:  Sarah McCain

When an initial allocation of parental responsibilities, or more commonly known as a “custody” case, is filed involving your child or children, it is possible that you are caught off guard. However, in most cases, disagreements between parents or a natural unraveling of a relationship will give you a good heads up that a case is on the horizon. It may also be a modification of the current situation wherein you are filing the request to the court to make a change. In these circumstances, it is important to make sure that you are one hundred percent ready to proceed in what will likely be a difficult case. This includes being ready both with your arguments and for the emotional strain that can take place not only on you, but on your kids as well.  Preparing for a Colorado child custody case entails so much more than just filling out forms and filing them with the court.  Are you ready?

Initially, it is probably best to sit down with a family law attorney to discuss your specific situation. An experienced attorney may be able to direct you as to what documentation or evidence you should be compiling and what individuals you should start including in your life to ensure that you are able to make a solid argument. For example, if you are making an argument that the children are suffering emotionally due to the parenting time of the other parent, it is important to note that proving emotional harm can be difficult. Having a therapist on board seeing your child or children before the motion is filed may be beneficial for you. A therapist is then prepared to support you in court through testimony, written reports, or interaction with a child custody expert.  Child custody cases can involve a great amount of thought, detail, evidence, and preparation.   Making sure you are prepared is a step in the right direction. Continue reading

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working-with-laptop-3-1545962-300x226By:  Curtis Wiberg

The telephone is an amazing way to keep in touch with children.  Skype, Facetime, Facebook video messaging, and other social media applications have made remote communication even more amazing.  In a divorce situation with kids involved, video communication has taken a lot of the sting of being separated from children for a lengthy period of time away.

At the beginning of my career, I dictated my letters and court pleadings onto cassette tapes, to secretaries who could type 100+ words per minute (and who were the only employees that had computers on their desk), and the fax machine (with the shiny white roll-up paper) was the revolutionary device that was changing the world.  To think that 20 plus years later, my clients could talk in real time to their children from anywhere in the world would have been unfathomable. But in those 20 years, we’ve gone from the unfathomable to the common, where video parenting time is almost invariably in every divorce parenting plan.  And, it is largely beneficial for all involved. Continue reading

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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