Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
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courtroom-144091__340-224x300By:  Jessica A. Bryant

For many people in the midst of a divorce or custody case, it may be the first time they have ever been to court.  One looming question many people have is what to expect when attending a family law hearing– a large part of which includes what questions they may be asked when testifying.  This series of blog posts will explore potential questions you may face during a hearing on your Colorado family law case, with segments being presented by subject matter.

This Part 1 will focus on what questions may be asked in a hearing on maintenance (spousal support) and/or child support.  Part 2  will focus on what questions may be asked during a hearing on child-related issues (decision-making and/or parenting time).  Part 3 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 presented.

For a hearing regarding spousal support and/or child support, one main point of focus will be each party’s income.  Therefore, many of the questions you may face during such a hearing will be on your income.  If you are employed some of the questions may be as follows: Continue reading

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photo__2826632_janettePlog & Stein is pleaded to announced that Janette M. Jordan (Fellows-Papak) has joined the firm as an associate attorneys.

“My primary focus in all my cases is creating a safe place where my clients feel comfortable, listening to them, and preparing a path that meets both their short term and long term goals.”

Janette M. Jordan (Fellows-Papak) is an associate with Plog & Stein, P.C., having started with the firm in 2017. Janette dedicates her practice to family law, though also maintains a firm grasp on various aspects of probate law, including guardianships. Janette is the most recent addition to the firm and will be primarily staffing our Broomfield office. Continue reading

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child-custody-300x200By:  Sarah T. McCain

With the myriad of potential new client interactions I have engaged in over the last decade, one of the most often asked requests is “I want to change custody.”  But what does that really mean?  What does it look like?  Generally, people are referring to wanting to change the primary residence of their children from the other parent to themselves.  Denver child custody lawyers know that from a statutory standpoint, this is a feat easier said than done.   To change primary residential custody, circumstances must be just right.

Modifications of parenting time (visitation) and residence in Colorado are covered under Colorado Revised Statute, 14-10-129.   Subsection (2) deals with changes in residence of a child.   There are specific circumstances under which primary residence can be changed, the easiest of which being the parents agreeing to make the change.   If primary residence is changed via agreement it is advisable to memorialize the change via a written stipulation (agreement) filed with the court.   That stipulation should set forth specific terms.   If you are the parent giving up primary residence you have the opportunity to make sure you get orders as favorable as possible to you tied into your parenting time and perhaps child support.  You are making a huge concession giving up your primary residential status and, thus, have a certain degree of bargaining power.  If you are the parent who will be taking primary residential control of the child you should ask to put things into a stipulation memorializing the new arrangement.  If the other parent resists, don’t push.    Get the child into your home first and establish a track record, maybe even a month or two.  If by that point the other parent is still unwilling to sign off on an agreement you might start thinking about filing a motion to modify on your own. Continue reading

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abacus-1415578

Child support in Colorado is based off of worksheet calculations (governed by specific guidelines/formulas set forth in the statute, 14-10-115). One factor that impacts child support calculations is the number of overnights each parent has with the children. For many cases, all children are on the same schedule. In those situations, you take the number of scheduled overnights each parent has with the children and enter such onto the worksheet. However, in many other cases, one schedule may not work for all the children. The question then becomes, how do you calculate child support when the children are on different schedules? Before reviewing the situations below, there are a few definitions that will be helpful:

 

 

  1. Primary care/custody is when one parent has less than 92 scheduled overnights per year with the children. This is commonly referred to as a “Worksheet A” situation.
  2. Shared care/custody: This is when both parents have more than 92 scheduled overnights per year with the children. This is commonly referred to as a “Worksheet B” situation.

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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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calculator-300x200By:   Stephen J. Plog

In Part 1 of this article, I analyzed the generalities of how bonus and commission income are treated in Colorado child support cases.   To recap, bonus and commission income are specifically enumerated in Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-115 as income which can be included in a child support calculation.   I also discussed various issues tied into what courts might do when including a person’s bonus or commission income to derive their overall income, which included discussions regarding averaging bonuses and commissions over a sensible term of years to come up with an average.    In this Part 2, I will focus on bonus and commission (hereinafter referred to as “B & C”) income, including potential strategies for negotiating or litigating spousal support cases when these types of incomes apply.

The legal analysis for what would be included as income in a Colorado alimony case, pursuant to C.R.S.14-10-114, is essentially identical to the analysis applied in a child support case.  However, as a Denver alimony attorney for almost two decades, it is my opinion that both parties and courts can be much more creative with alimony (maintenance) orders tied into bonuses and commissions.   Thus, there is more potential for sensible and fluid arrangements regarding spousal support, as opposed to child support orders, which are almost always going to be reflective of strict adherence to the C.R.S. 14-10-115 child support guidelines. 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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meeting-room-1480575By: Jessica A. Bryant

Whether an initial divorce case, initial custody case, or a request to modify a prior custody or support order, you will generally receive an order from the court requiring you to attend a mediation session before the final hearing.  Mediation orders vary from county to county (for example, some counties require mediation before they will set your contested hearing, or even your first court appearance, whereas other counties just require mediation to be completed within a certain amount of time before the hearing).

However, one common requirement for mediation in every county is that parties must mediate “in good faith.” That requirement, though, is generally not defined anywhere in the order.  Therefore, people often question exactly what it means to mediate in “good faith.”   One very important thing to note is that good faith mediation does not mean you have to reach agreements. You are never required to reach an agreement at mediation. Mediation is a confidential process and if no agreements are reached all the mediator tells the court is that the parties appeared, mediated, and no agreements were reached. Continue reading

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US-Map-300x225By:  Curtis Wiberg

Every state has adopted what is known as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). In cases where parents may reside in different states, this uniform act helps establish which state’s courts have jurisdiction to make determinations affecting the custody of the parties’ minor children.

Once one state’s jurisdiction has been established and custody orders have been entered, C.R.S. § 14-13-202 provides that that state shall have “exclusive, continuing jurisdiction,”  unless….    Generally, as long as one parent remains in the state where the initial custody proceeding occurred, that state shall retain jurisdiction to hear any future custody or visitation issues concerning the minor children.  This is a basic, core provision of the UCCJEA which, in some cases, becomes impractical.

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calculator-300x200By: Stephen J. Plog

In the vast majority of Colorado divorce or custody cases I have litigated over the years, child support is an issue to be resolved.   Child support is calculated based on a statutory formula, with the primary variables being the income of each party, the number of children, the number of overnight visits per year for each parent, and lesser items such as monthly health insurance premiums or day care costs.   As one might imagine, people can argue over almost anything, including each of these variables that going into the calculation, but for the number of children.   In most cases, the primary variable being argued over is income.    Aside from arguments regarding someone being unemployed or underemployed and the amount of income that should be attributed to them, battles can arise over forms or types of income.    This includes arguments regarding bonus and commission income which one might earn above and beyond their base salary.   Contrary to common belief, bonuses and commissions are income for calculating child support pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-115. Continue reading