Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in Divorce

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By:  Curtis Wiberg

A divorce is a giant upheaval, and the challenges of maintaining your career while going through a divorce and adjusting to a new personal life and routine can be one of the biggest challenges.

There is of course the emotional upheaval associated with a divorce. Divorce stress can greatly affect motivation, concentration, sleep and appetite.

There is also the related embarrassment of a personal issue becoming common knowledge among your employers and colleagues.

Some of the questions you should ask yourself as you are going through a divorce include whether to even let your bosses know about the divorce. Your specific situation probably dictates whether and how to approach your employer with the news that you are going through a divorce.  I have seen many clients who’ve been able to rely on their employers as a major asset in the process. For instance, in cases involving custody issues, sitting down with your boss to discuss flexible scheduling and working remotely for the purpose of dropping off or picking up kids from school can help you present to the court as being fully able to assume primary or equal parenting time. Continue reading

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price-tag-1240865-300x180By:  Jessica A. Bryant

I’ve yet to meet a single person who jumps for joy at the notion of going through a divorce and incurring costs as a result. Oftentimes, people ask what their case is going to cost them. Given so many unknowns and independent variables, I am generally left giving a range of potentials. Though I wish there was always clarity in the projected financial cost for a divorce and will always be upfront with clients about such matters, the reality is that it’s just not possible to give an accurate, exact figure for what their final charges might be. However, while reading news stories on the internet a couple of weeks ago, I came across a story which was, at least, insightful and may give me a little more ability to be more specific.  That story related to a recent divorce study showed that Colorado is the 9th most expensive state for a divorce. According to this study, the average divorce Colorado divorce costs $14,500 and the average attorney’s fees are $11,400 (which is the 10th highest in the country). In comparison, according to the same study, the cheapest state in which to get a divorce is Montana, with the average divorce there costing $8,400 and the average attorney’s fees being $6,600. The most expensive state in which to get a divorce is California, with the average divorce costing $17,500 and the average attorney’s fees being $13,800. Continue reading

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dictionary-1426438-300x226By: Stephen J. Plog

As a Denver divorce lawyer, I regularly meet with people in need of help with their family law cases.   With each meeting, I have to be conscious of each person’s level of awareness when discussing the legal aspects of their case.   After almost twenty years of practicing  family law, it’s easy to forget that to the person going through their first introduction to the world of divorce, the common phrases that attorneys use may sound like complete gibberish unless explained.  The soup of divorce related terms which might cause confusion for the person going through divorce for the first time is no more intelligible than if I were talking to a computer technician or mechanic about the specific parts of a computer’s CPU or the specifics of how a to rebuild a car engine.   Below I will list some of the common terms one might hear when going through a divorce, with the intent of educating so as to help readers make sense of some of the words they might hear, yet not fully understand.

Petition:   A petition is the initial document filed in a divorce case.  It lets the court know a brand new case is being started.  For divorce, the petition is called a “petition for dissolution of marriage.”   In a custody case it would be called a “petition for allocation of parental responsibilities.”   Petitions must be personally served upon the other party, along with a “summons.”  Once petition and summons are personally served, the court has jurisdiction over the second party to the case. Continue reading

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chasing-the-markets-1241622-300x200By:  Curtis Wiberg

Colorado law requires a Court dividing a marital estate in a divorce to divide the estate “equitably”, meaning fairly. See C.R.S. § 14-10-113. More often than not, an equal division of marital assets is the fairest result and the norm in most cases.  However, equal is not always fair, and a glaring examples of this is evident when one party has built up a PERA retirement account, while the other has paid into Social Security.  This article will focus on PERA, the unequal allocation of marital property after consideration of Social Security benefits, and a 2005 Appellate Court decision.

PERA (Public Employee Retirement Account) accounts are considered, under Colorado law, to be a marital asset. Social Security benefits, on the other hand, are forbidden under federal law from being valued and divided as a marital asset in a divorce. PERA employees, such as teachers or other government workers, receive their benefits built up from their public employment in lieu of Social Security, rather than in addition to Social Security.  Thus, by electing to take part in PERA, they are divested of certain Social Security benefits. Continue reading

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liqueur-9-1525927By:  Curtis Wiberg

We’ve previously written about legal strategies when in the midst of divorce proceedings when one spouse is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem and its affect on a custody case. This article discusses alcohol abuse and dependency in general, tips for saving a marriage (if possible), and resources if those attempts fail.

According to a recent study, alcohol is the most abused drug in the country. One study states that 1 in 12 Americans suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. That staggering statistic obviously impacts many marriages, and a fair number of divorces that Denver divorce attorneys might deal with.

Part of the difficulty with alcoholism is knowing when your spouse has crossed the line from social drinker to abuser. Is your spouse exhibiting a compulsion to drink, unable to abstain, exhibiting symptoms of alcohol dependence like nausea, shakiness, or anxiety, or acting dangerously or impulsively when drinking? If so, it may behoove you to discuss your concerns with your spouse and determine if an alcohol assessment is appropriate. Continue reading

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running-track-2-1528273By:  Curtis Wiberg

The Colorado divorce decree just entered… so now what?

This is actually a very important phase of the divorce, and if you’re presented by an attorney, it may behoove you to keep your attorney retained to make sure all the loose ends are resolved satisfactorily.

Many divorce orders or agreements call for retirement accounts or pensions to be split up.  Because retirement accounts are governed by Federal law, the entry of a special order for the division of a retirement account, known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is required. Some parties are so relieved that the divorce is over, they don’t follow through, or procrastinate, on hiring someone to draft the QDRO and filing the paperwork for the division of a retirement account with the court and plan.  As with many other obligations, procrastination and lack of follow through can have drastic consequences.  Some retirement accounts or pensions have time limits within which QDRO’s must be entered.  Retirement accounts are valuable assets, and it’s important to take this next step to ensure that retirement accounts are divided as ordered or as agreed upon. Continue reading

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caution-1315680By:  Sarah T. McCain

When the decision to physically separate and dissolve the marital relationship is made, there are some basic steps each party to a Colorado divorce should consider taking to ensure a smooth transition, an ability to appropriately deal with finances in the short-term, and an ability to logistically function as they move on to the initial phases of an actual divorce case.   Specifically, there are steps one might initially take to make dealing with bills, expenses, and personal property easier.  Regardless of the complexities in your case, some simple preventative measures might go along way.

The initial stages of dividing finances can be a rocky experience for many couples.  It’s important to have an understanding of what the financial circumstances are.  You will need to know what the overall marital obligations are, such as utilities, mortgage or rent, car payments, insurance, and credit cards.  This should include an understanding of due dates and how these items have traditionally been paid.   The first step is gathering documents necessary to give you a clear picture, which should be done before either you or your spouse leaves the marital residence.   Gathering these documents jointly and creating a plan regarding who-will-pay-what is preferential.   If collaboration is not an option, it still makes sense to gather as much documentation as possible so that you can assess not only how best to protect yourself financially, but also for purposes of compiling evidence for your case.  Once you leave the home you should presume you’re not likely getting back in.  Conversely, once your spouse leaves, presume he or she will take various documents that you may no longer have easy access to.  Having a clear understanding of the financial puzzle will help you to figure out what needs to be done throughout the process. Continue reading

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property-market-1223813By:  Stephen J. Plog

As indicated in various, previous posts over the years, one of the primary issues which can arise in any divorce case is the division of marital property. While reading the news the other morning, I came across a story regarding the case of an English couple battling over their divorce and division of property.  The gist of the article tied into an appellate ruling related to division of the marital estate and whether that division would deviate from the norm based on the husband’s contributions.  Specifically, the parties were arguing over how to divide their $225 million marital estate, with the husband arguing he should receive a greater share than normal due to his special contribution to the marital estate.   The special contribution the husband claimed was the fact that his superior intelligence or “genius” lead to the creation of the vast amount of wealth to be divided.    The English appellate court ultimately ruled against him.

While analyzing this and other cases, the author pointed out that under English law, the norm is to divide a marital estate equally.   This is also the norm in most Colorado divorce cases, whether that norm is arrived at through settlement or a hearing with the court.  Given that many of our notions of legal fairness stem from English law, I was not shocked to learn this.   Of course the bigger aspect of the article was the issue of how British courts might treat contribution of one spouse towards the marital estate as a basis for deviating from the norm of equal and awarding the greater contributor a greater piece of the proverbial pie.   Given my years of experience and familiarity with Colorado family law, I immediately started pondering the issue of contribution and how often it’s really a factor in a Colorado divorce case. Continue reading

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no-symbol-circle-with-slash-prohibition-sign-1146029By:  Curtis Wiberg

If you are contemplating a divorce or legal separation, but are afraid of retaliation by your spouse, know that the Colorado Legislature has enacted law to protect you right out of the gate. This provision of the law is known as the Automatic Temporary Injunction and is located at C.R.S. 14-10-107 (4)(b).   The specific terms of the injunction are required to be set forth in both the divorce summons and petition.   There are four key protections set forth in Section 107, and they go into effect on the Petitioner as soon as the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed with the Court.  The protections go into effect on the Respondent as soon as the Respondent is personally served or signs a waiver of service. The four protections are as follows:

(A) Restraining both parties from transferring, encumbering, concealing, or in any way disposing of, without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, any marital property, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life and requiring each party to notify the other party of any proposed extraordinary expenditures and to account to the court for all extraordinary expenditures made after the injunction is in effect;

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yellow-flag-in-pocket-1510212By:  Curtis Wiberg

Sometimes a high profile divorce can help teach a lesson on key issues that exist in an everyday Colorado divorce. The divorce proceeding currently underway in Texas involving Denver Bronco wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is one such case.

Gabriella Sanders filed for divorce in October 2016, in Texas. Within the last two weeks, the website TMZ broke the news that Gabriella Sanders alleges that Emmanuel Sanders committed marital “atrocities,” including spending thousands of dollars on multiple other women for the purpose of having extra-marital affairs. To add to the salaciousness of the allegations, Gabriella claims that Emmanuel lied to the Broncos of needing to be excused from practices in November to attend the birth of his baby when really he wanted time off in order to pursue these sexual relationships.  In fact, Gabriella did not give birth to their baby until the second week of December. Continue reading