Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in Uncategorized

Published on:

By:  Sarah T. McCain

Do parenting time schedules have to be the same for two kids?  The simple answer is, “no.”  In recent months, numerous articles have highlighted the divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  Receiving specific attention are the allegations of altercations between Pitt and their oldest child of the six kids they share. This has seemingly (from a tabloid perspective) resulted in him seeing all of his children on a very infrequent basis, if he has seen them at all.   Not much of anything has been in the news regarding his relationships with his other kids.  Presuming that there is an issue between him and the eldest child, not of an abusive nature,  should his relationship with the remaining five children track on the same schedule as that of the elder child with whom there are problems?  No.  It is possible to have the children on differing schedules dependent on their needs and the relationship.  Of course Brad and Angelina are divorcing elsewhere, I believe California, not Colorado.   Regardless, their case can certainly be viewed through the lens of Colorado family law.

While a custody court is tasked with putting together a parenting plan in the best interests of the children, the court does not necessarily have to treat the children as a unit for parenting time purposes.  There is no one set, best parenting time schedule that is going to fit every family.  In families with two or more children, particularly of different ages, there is a chance that the children may have differing schedules with each parent.    This may be due to school or activities.  It could be due to relationship strains, or just normal development.  Perhaps the younger boy wants is ambivalent as to which parent he is with, while the 14 year old daughter feels like she needs more time with and influence from mom.   In such an instance, it may be in both kids’ best interest to have differing schedules.  If one of the kids in your household has different needs or a different relationship with the other parent, it is important to put that on the proverbial settlement table for discussion, or in front of the court, if need be.  Judges will certainly want to assess why kids might need differing schedules and the gravitational pull of the system, from a normalcy standpoint will generally be to have kids on the same schedule.  In instances in which there may be issues between one parent and a child necessitating a differing schedule from the other, it is likely a court will want any strains addressed through counseling.   At the same time, the court is generally not going to place the desire for uniformity of reality and a child’s individual needs.  I have litigated various cases over the years in which children might be on differing schedules.

Published on:

When parties are getting a Colorado divorce, each party and the Court need to know what the marital estate consists of. To achieve that, Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 16.2, was enacted requiring each party to disclose just about everything about the financial information they possess. The specifics of what that entails were discussed in detail in a prior article written by this firm.

Since the enactment of Rule 16.2, the Colorado appellate courts have interpreted and applied this rule, and have clarified further what duties of disclosures parties in a divorce or custody matter owe to each other.

One Colorado Supreme Court case, entitled In re: Marriage of Schelp, was a consolidation of three separate cases where lower courts had reopened cases based on fraudulent disclosures in divorces that had been finalized prior to Rule 16.2’s effective start date of January 1, 2005. The Colorado Supreme Court stated it was improper to apply Rule 16.2 retroactively to divorces before January 1, 2005, as the lower courts had done. In so doing, though, the Court highlighted just how radically different the new Rule 16.2 was compared to the old rules. Previously, the burden was on a spouse to discover and acquire information from the other spouse, and if that spouse failed to use due diligence in uncovering information, that was their failure, not the non-disclosing spouse.

Published on:

After many years of practicing custody law in Denver, I have seen hundreds of cases and many troubling situations.  Despite seeing it all, at times, I am still shocked by some of the negative or hurtful positions parents embroiled in a custody battle might place their kids in.  One of the more unfortunate occurrences in a divorce or custody case that involves children is when there is a case of parental alienation. The phrase refers to the action of one parent in deliberately undermining the child’s relationship with the other parent.  “Alienation” can range from minor actions, like saying to a child “isn’t it more fun at my house,” to the extreme case of falsifying abuse claims against the other parent for the purpose of disrupting contact.

Parental alienation, if proven, is taken very seriously by Colorado family law courts and is considered as a form of emotional abuse. C.R.S. § 14-10-124 (1.5)(a)(VI) explicitly requires a court to consider a party’s ability to foster a positive relationship between a child and the other parent as one of many factors in determining parenting time and a child’s best interest. If a court determines that a party does not support the other party’s relationship with a child and takes that lack of support to the level of alienation, that alienating party can find that he or she is the one who is having  parenting time curtailed or decision-making authority taken away. Continue reading