Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in Divorce

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denver-capitol-hill-1620432-300x199By:  Jessica A. Saldin

Starting August 8, 2018, there will some statutory changes being made to the Colorado Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (the main statute/law that governs Colorado divorce and custody cases).  As these changes may have major impacts on your divorce or custody case, it is important to know what they are.  A few of the statutes are undergoing minor word changes, which are not being discussed in this article.  The major changes, which will be the primary focus of this article, affect the statutes governing spousal maintenance and child support.

C.R.S. 14-10-114 is the statute that governs maintenance (often called spousal support or alimony).  As discussed in a prior blog post, the federal tax code is changing in 2019, with an impact on how maintenance payments are treated for tax purposes.  It used to be that a payor’s maintenance payments were tax deductible to the payor and a recipient’s maintenance payments had to be claimed on the recipient’s taxes as income.  Starting in 2019, the recipient will not have to declare maintenance payments as income; however, the paying party will not get a deduction for maintenance paid.  As mentioned in the prior post, such was anticipated to have an effect on Colorado’s maintenance law because the formula was created with the understanding that maintenance would be tax deductible and taxable, respectively.  As anticipated, the Colorado legislature has made changes to Colorado’s maintenance law to account for these federal tax changes. Continue reading

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ofcomm-series-collapsed-1533808-300x205By:  Michelle L. Searcy

Divorce can often create stress, anxiety, and even depression.   If you are going through a divorce or are even contemplating it, uncertainty about the future is bound to affect your mental health.  You may experience fear and anxiety about your income, your property, and your children.  Different people react differently to all of this stress.  The range of coping mechanisms spans healthier tactics, such as healthy eating and exercising to more risky behaviors, like excessive drinking or spending.   Regardless of your personal style of coping, you will need to make crucial, potentially life-altering decisions in the process of a divorce.  

You will need to be able to evaluate offers, determine whether and on what terms to counter-offer, or whether to present issues for the court to decide.  Stress, depression and anxiety do not only affect the way you feel, but also the way you think.  They can cloud your judgment, making it more difficult to make the best decisions possible.  Poor decisions may not only affect the outcome of your case, but increase your legal costs.  Thus, you may find it helpful to identify your level of stress, and then, determine how best to address it.  

Psychology Today published an excellent article in 2012 titled “Where are You on the Divorce Stress Scale?”   An honest assessment of the effects of divorce-related stress will help you determine how best to cope  to allow you to make forward thinking, productive decisions.  The Psychology Today article included excellent suggestions for coping with stress.  Other resources are also available, such as the Jane Collingwood article on Psychcentral.com, Reducing the Stress of a Divorce. Continue reading

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balance-1172800-300x204By: Curtis Wiberg

On May 21, 2018, the Colorado Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of Parocha v. Parocha, 2018 CO 41. The case involved a wife who fled an abusive relationship in New Jersey, with her infant daughter, to reside in Colorado with her family. Once here in Colorado, the husband continued making harassing and threatening calls from New Jersey to the wife.  The question before the Colorado Supreme Court was whether Colorado could exercise jurisdiction against an out of state party, and issue a restraining order, solely on the basis of threatening and harassing contact received by the wife in Colorado, notwithstanding the fact that husband had not been physically present in Colorado.  The court ruled that the actions of husband in sending communications that were harassing and threatening to his wife in Colorado constituted acts that gave the Colorado courts authority to issue a protection order in Colorado against her Husband.  As such, the Colorado Supreme Court has given victims of domestic violence an important protection not explicitly existent previously. Continue reading

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playing-to-win-1508299-300x226By:  Curtis Wiberg

Plog & Stein, P.C.

In my career as a family law attorney, I have seen a lot of problems between divorced spouses as they relate to costs associated with minor children’s school and/or extracurricular expenses. Many divorce orders or separation agreements contain provisions for the parties to share expenses of school and extracurricular activities.  As with many things in life, however, the devil is in the details, and ambiguities in what qualifies an appropriate expense, and then how reimbursements are to occur result in conflict, mischief, and ultimately litigation. It is incumbent on parties (and to their attorneys) to button down with specificity which expenses are to be split and procedures for reimbursement  to avoid problems.

The legal basis for the division of such costs derive from the child support statute, C.R.S. § 14-10-115.  As articulated in the Colorado Appeals Court case of In re: Marriage of Laughlin, 932 P.2d 858 (Colo. App. 1995) “The case-by-case determination of child support with which a trial court is charged must include a consideration of factors related to a child’s standard of living and additional needs. Such factors include recreational costs. In re Marriage of LeBlanc, 800 P.2d 1384 (Colo.App.1990); § 14-10-115(1), C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6B). In addition, this court has recognized that fees associated with athletic activities can either qualify as educational expenses under § 14-10-115(11)(I) or provide a basis under § 14-10-115(3)(a), C.R.S. (1996 Cum.Supp.) for the deviation from the presumed amount of support. See In re Marriage of Ansay, 839 P.2d 527 (Colo.App.1992). The trial court’s post-hearing orders contain sufficient findings to satisfy us that inclusion of the ice skating fees was warranted here. See In re Marriage of Nielsen, 794 P.2d 1097 (Colo.App.1990) (trial court has discretion to deviate from the guidelines where justified provided it makes appropriate findings).”  Per statute, once such fees are identified as being appropriately factored into the child’s overall need, those fees are to be split in proportion to the parties’ incomes. Continue reading

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529523323-300x200By: Jessica A. Bryant

After getting married it is not uncommon for people to change the beneficiaries on their various accounts (life insurance, stocks, retirement accounts, etc.) to their new spouse.  In the event of a divorce, most types of accounts allow the beneficiary to be changed (be cognizant of the automatic temporary injunction that goes into place when a divorce is filed that prohibits changing the beneficiaries of certain accounts without agreement or court order until the case is completed).  However, one exception to this ability to always change the beneficiary, is a pension account.  Most pension beneficiary rules have a time frame after which the beneficiary cannot be changed.  For example, sometimes, when the person retires, that triggers the event such that their beneficiary designation becomes irrevocable.  So the question may arise, if a divorce is filed after the beneficiary designation becomes irrevocable, does the fact that you are a beneficiary of your spouse’s pension plan, or vice versa, mean that you have a marital property interest in their pension? Continue reading

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listen-1257756-300x226By:  Sarah T. McCain

During the end of a marriage, there can often be a significant amount of fighting. It’s hoped that these verbal arguments couples might engage in can be kept from the children.  As a marriage ends through the process of divorce, children often comment that it is better that they not be caught in the middle of the fighting. This is a goal I recommend all clients strive for and something the court will certainly expect tied into one facet of the C.R.S. 14-10-124 “best interest of the child” standard: the ability of the parents to put the needs of the child over their own.  However, what happens when the conflict continues and what can you do to make sure that this continued hostility does not impact your parenting relationship or the emotional health of your children?  Continue reading

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priority-mental-health-1546123-300x224By: Janette Jordan 

Divorce is an extremely emotionally taxing and difficult process. It affects both parties directly involved, and then the children. A divorce is essentially a fracturing of a family unit. One household now becomes two. One shared holiday now becomes split or alternated. The reality is that it is okay to seek outside help; and it is encouraged. For us divorce lawyers, divorce is a common occurrence and something we deal with literally every day (weekends and holidays excepted).  For you, the person going through the divorce, you are having to deal with a whole new set of issues, such as the legal aspect of your case, the emotional separation and loss, the uncertainty of the future, and maintaining stability for your children.  One of the best things you can do for them is to ensure they have a safe emotional outlet in which to participate and engage, such as therapy.

There are many approaches to therapy depending upon your unique situation and the age of your children. Most psychologists recognize that the time following the divorce is the hardest time for a child. The discussion, realization, and/or physical separation in the beginning can be traumatizing and upsetting, but a lot of the research suggests it is how the parents help their children navigate this transition that determines lasting psychological effects.  Continue reading

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240_F_27035570_gIfSgivcriIQhbNmeQU6B6WqHT5bllnH-300x225By:  Curtis Wiberg

Over the last several years, Denver real estate prices have increased rapidly and significantly.  In many Denver divorce cases, the largest asset needing to be divided is the marital home.  If the parties have resided in the marital home throughout the course of the marriage, keeping current on payments, and in this market where house prices have been rising, oftentimes a divorcing couple will have built up significant equity in the home (Equity = Sale Price minus Existing Mortgage owed). This valuable asset is something that will need to fairly divided between the parties as part of any divorce resolution.

The most accurate and assuredly fair way to divide the home equity is to sell the marital home.  What better way to determine how much home equity there is to divide than to go through the process and see how much is left over after sale and closing?  Even if the parties determine to sell the house, some issues can still arise if the sale is done during the divorce.  For instance, if the house in need of repair to get the home ready for sale, the parties need to figure out how to pay for these repairs and agree on a contractor. Some parties insist on doing the repairs or improvements themselves, which is an endeavor that can lead to tension and conflict in marriages that don’t even involve divorce.   Continue reading

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college-1440364-300x226By: Jessica A. Bryant

When in the middle of a divorce or custody case one aspect that often gets less consideration than some of the immediate issues/concerns is how to handle the children’s post-secondary/college expenses.  Child support in Colorado ends at the age of 19 unless the child emancipates before the age of 19 (becomes legally emancipated, marries, or if the child enters active military duty).  Due to the nature of divorce and custody cases, often parties are focused on the here and now, instead of the future.  

Under Colorado law, for any child support orders after July 1, 1997, unless the child is determined to be mentally or physically disabled, or unless the child is still in high school (but not beyond the age of twenty-one), a court does not have the authority to order any child support payments or other payments for the benefit of the child beyond the age of 19.  This includes the court lacking authority, under child support and divorce statutes, to forcibly order either parent to pay for college (whether the child is under 19 or not).  However, parents are always free to agree to provide for the children’s post-secondary (college) expenses and can do so via written agreement, filed with the court.  That agreement will be every bit as legally binding and enforceable as any other court orders.

Continue reading

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guinness-1362297By: Janette Jordan

It’s a hard question to answer, but one that is often asked.  What happens to the pets in a divorce? As if divorces weren’t emotionally wrenching enough, the thought that you also have to decide where your pets go, or with whom, or who has the final say can be extremely difficult.  We understand that to a lot of people, the pets are part of the family.  To some, they are considered their children. But how do the courts treat them?

In Colorado, one of the most pet-friendly states in the Country, the courts sadly still view pets as property, pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-113, and something to be divided in a divorce proceeding. If children are involved, your case will naturally involve determinations of parenting time, decision-making, and child support.  When pets are involved, the courts will treat them as an asset, something to be allocated to one party or the other.  Unfortunately, we have a ways to go in recognizing our furry friends as more than property, unlike a court in a Maryland divorce with pets which actually entered custody orders regarding the family dog.  Furthermore, unlike other assets, such as a bank account, you cannot literally divide a dog or cat.  Continue reading