Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in General Family Law Knowledge

Published on:

meeting-room-1499653-300x226By Michelle L. Searcy

Whether you are involved in a divorce (dissolution of marriage), child custody (allocation of parental rights), or modification family law case, you will be encouraged, if not ordered to participate in mediation.  In mediation, the mediator will work with you to try to resolve issues through agreement.  This confidential process gives you and the other party an opportunity to control the outcome of the case by reaching an agreement instead of having a stranger decide for you.  You may not resolve all of the issues.  Even if you are only able to reach agreements on some issues, it will help you pare down your court hearing time to focus on the issues that truly cannot be settled.

As a family law attorney, I have represented many clients through the mediation process.  Mediation does not always result in a successful outcome.  Often, I have heard clients express the opinion that mediation wasted time and money.  This article will help you avoid that feeling by focusing on ways to get the maximum benefit from mediation.  That said, mediation can frustrate the parties because the mediator lacks the authority to make either party agree to anything, or make decisions.  Some mediators apply pressure to the parties with the hopes of encouraging compromise.  It helps to keep in mind that the mediator’s judgment does not necessarily reflect the analysis the court may make when assessing a case. Continue reading

Published on:

documents-1427202-300x226By: Stephen J. Plog

Having spoken with thousands of people over the years regarding their Colorado divorce and child custody cases, one common topic of discussion is that of evidence, within the context of what can or cannot be used in court.  There are many common misbeliefs about what is good evidence, meaning something the court can accept and use for purposes of formulating its ruling.   For example, sometimes people ask whether it would help for them to have friends or other third persons write letters, whether attesting to an event they’ve witnessed or perhaps as to someone’s “character.”   Each time this is asked, I am compelled to let people know that letters from third persons are not going to be helpful (generally) and are going to be considered inadmissible hearsay.  The second part of my response is always going to be that we will need the potential letter writer to attend court to testify.  The Colorado Rules of Evidence dictate what is or is not going to be admissible evidence in a divorce or child custody case.    In this blog post, I will attempt to give a basic tutorial regarding what will or won’t be admitted. Continue reading

Published on:

pensando-1499844-300x200By: Stephen J. Plog

Having practiced family law in Colorado for over 20 years, I’ve seen many situations in which one party or the other in a divorce case has, or both have, changed their mind about an aspect of the divorce case, including whether to proceed with the case at all.   In a divorce case, until something is put into writing and signed off on by the presiding judge as an order of the court, there are opportunities to have a change in tune, or of heart, in terms of how to proceed.   However, it should be noted that the consequences of changing one’s mind differ depending on the decision sought to be undone.  To phrase it differently, while opportunity exists to entertain various changes in mind along the path of your divorce, there are some decisions you may not be able to undo, such as changing your mind regarding the property settlement aspects of a properly executed and adopted separation agreement.

One of the more common changes in mind a person going through a divorce might have ties into actually following through with the case.   Over the years, I have seen more instances than I can remember in which one spouse decides they are ready to file.   The divorce case gets filed and then that person changes their mind.   Sometimes this happens prior to the other party being served with the divorce petition and summons.  In those instances, the case can simply be voluntarily withdrawn or dismissed, pursuant to Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 41, without even needing to notify the other party.   If the other party is served, that’s a different story.  In those instances, for the divorce case to be dismissed, both parties must agree that the case should be dismissed and must file a stipulation with the court reflecting such a conclusion.  If the second, served spouse wishes to proceed, the case will continue despite the first party changing his or her mind.   I have seen many cases mutually dismissed, with the parties wishing to attempt reconciliation and perhaps realizing that they jumped the proverbial gun on proceeding down the divorce path.    Continue reading

Published on:

By: Curtis Wiberg

During a divorce proceeding, or in a post-decree modification proceeding, issues related to a spouse’s income or assets are often disputed, especially when one spouse suspects the other spouse is hiding income or assets from them.

Typically, bank records and income information is disclosed through the mandatory financial disclosure process of Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 16.2, or (if you have need to review many months worth of financial documents) through the process of discovery as outlined in Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure 33 and 34. These rules of civil procedure, however, operate on the premise that the spouse will abide by their duty to disclose requested or required information. Some spouses, whether through dishonesty, indifference, or neglect, do not abide by their duty to disclose (or fully disclose) their information as required under these rules.  

The spouse who does not disclose information as required is vulnerable to significant sanctions, and these sanctions often are sufficient to protect the spouse seeking this information.  However, if production of documents remains necessary, a party’s right to subpoena documents exists under a different, C.R.C.P. Rule 45. 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: Stephen J. Plog

In many Colorado divorce and child custody cases, it’s not uncommon to see situations in which one party or the other fails to follow the court’s orders, whether financial or child related in nature.   When orders are not followed, the aggrieved party is left with various remedies to consider, one of which is filing a motion and affidavit for contempt of court pursuant to Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 107.

The filing of a motion for contempt of court essentially entails setting forth allegations within the motion alleging that there are court orders in place, that the other party is aware of the court orders, that the other party has failed to follow those court orders, and that that party had/has the ability to follow the relevant, violated court orders.   Once filed, the court will give the contempt motion a prima facia review, after which it will normally issue a citation instructing the violating party to appear in court, at a certain time, to answer as to the allegations.   The initial hearing is generally for advisement purposes, at which time the accused will plead guilty or not guilty.  If “not guilty” is the plea then an evidentiary hearing will be set, to take place a few weeks, or months, down the road. Continue reading

Published on:

In the State of Colorado, when you have a pending family law case before the court, such as a divorce filing, allocation of parental responsibilities filing, post-decree modifications, etc., courts typically require that the parties attempt alternative dispute resolution (ADR). In fact, C.R.S. 13-22-301, et seq. states that courts can require the parties of a contested issue or dispute to engage in some form of alternate dispute resolution.   The mediation is the most common form of alternate dispute resolution utilized by family law litigants, there are methods by which parties may elect to resolve their issues. Continue reading

Published on:

By: Curtis Wiberg

With the ease of technology making the prospect of recording phone and in-person conversations with a soon to be ex-spouse so much easier, more and more clients are presenting me with recorded conversations (whether audio or video) with their spouse for potential use as evidence in their divorce cases. A whole host of issues arise whenever this occurs.

The foremost consideration is ensuring that the recording was made legally. Colorado is one of the many states that allows for “one party consent” as an exception wiretapping criminal laws. C.R.S. § 18-9-303. What this means is that if there is one party to a conversation that consents to the recording of the conversation, then that is generally legal in Colorado. So, if you, as a party to a conversation, consent to the recording of the conversation, even if the other party is unaware that the conversation is being recorded, that is not illegal in Colorado. Continue reading

Published on:

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

Published on:

By: Jessica A. Bryant

As technology advances, it also impacts the way parties to a Denver family law case may try to present evidence to the court. However, these advancements are not always for the better. One major development is the creation of cell phone apps that purport to allow you to print off the text message from your phone. These apps make it sound perfect for a court proceeding- what better way to present your text message evidence to the court than through an app that coverts your text messages into one complete document? The problem with these apps is the method by which they convert the text messages to be printed out. If you try using such an app, you will find that what is printed out is basically a document of typed conversations. It really looks no different than what you could create in a word processed document. In other words, it is not as if the app is printing the text messages as depicted on your phone. The app converts the text message format and, through this conversion, changes the reliability/authenticity of the text message conversation.

In order to admit a document into evidence, pursuant to the Colorado Rules of Evidence, the court needs it to be authenticated.  In other words, the court typically needs a witness to confirm that the document is what it purports to be. However, getting a document admitted is only the first step. Once a document is admitted the court gets to decide how much weight it gives a particular document.  In other words, a report from an impartial expert on the case, who may have conducted a detailed investigation, met with the parties, the children, and made insightful recommendations to the court, may be given significantly more weight than a letter from a party’s mother saying they are a great parent. Both documents may be admitted because the expert and mother confirmed the submitted document was what the attorney was claiming it to be. That does not mean, though, that the judge will view both documents with the same amount of consideration. Continue reading