Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
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CourtroomBy:  Curtis Wiberg

As your family law case progresses to trial, the risks of letting a judge decide the course of your life and/or your children’s lives becomes a huge factor to consider if you are in a contentious divorce or post-divorce proceeding.  No matter how strong you may perceive your position to be, taking a case to trial is always a gamble, and it is important to have the opinion of a lawyer with experience litigating to provide you the best information as to your best course.  Though some cases can be straight forward such that the outcome seems certain, others can have a murkier outcome, depending on the law and the facts.   Additionally, given the fact that each judge/court may view an issue differently, results can vary from courtroom to courtroom.

In any case, it’s important to know what the best case scenario of going to trial is, and the odds of that best case materializing.  Likewise, it’s important to know what the worst case scenario of going to trial is, and the chances of that worst coming to pass. Where a compromise falls on that spectrum between the two scenarios should be one of the major factors to consider when making the decision regarding whether to settle or go to trial.  Having an experienced attorney who knows the law, the judges, and the expert witnesses to inform you of the likelihoods of various outcomes can be extremely helpful in guiding you to the best decision. Continue reading

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united-states-passport-1422402By:  Jessica A. Bryant

One area of dispute that can arise following a divorce or custody action is the question of obtaining a passport for the child. To get a passport for a child under 16, the State Department generally requires signatures from both of the parents or legal guardians. This requirement is the same even if the application is just for a renewal passport. There are a few exceptions to this requirement, though, which are as follows:

1.      The State Department will allow a passport application to be signed by only one parent if any of the following documentation can be provided:

a.    A written, signed and notarized statement from the non-applying parent, or an affidavit from  such parent, agreeing that the passport may be issued;

b.   Documentation showing the requesting parent is the sole parent or has sole custody- acceptable documentation includes the following:

Continue reading

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Private eyeBy: Sarah T. McCain

Often in high conflict divorce or custody cases, a party will ask me whether or not they should invest in having a private investigator follow their spouse. While it may sound tempting, the majority of the time, the answer to this question is “no.” However, there may be instances in which a private investigator can be helpful.  When pondering the notion of a private investigator, it’s important to assess with your attorney when it is unnecessary and when it might be of assistance to your overall case.  The answer will certainly depend on the facts and circumstances at hand tied into what you are trying to prove.

The most common reason I hear people raise when thinking about hiring an investigator is the possibility of infidelity in the relationship. If you are looking to determine whether your significant other is having an affair, you may be looking at spending money that will not provide a benefit to the arguments you are looking to make in court.  Contrary to common belief, infidelity is generally not a factor the court is interested in hearing about due to Colorado being a no-fault divorce state.  Obviously there are exceptions to this general rule, but these are limited and should be discussed with an attorney.  Though hiring a private investigator to prove infidelity may help settle any lingering doubts about the state of your relationship, it’s not likely to be a good use of financial resources.   Continue reading

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By:  Curtis Wiberg

As a Denver divorce lawyer, the vast majority of cases I see, marriages which end are dissolved through divorce, but not all. Legal annulment of marriage in Colorado is a rare occurrence and the grounds justifying annulment are tough to prove. However, there are situations where an annulment is necessary, and it’s important to know what the rights of the parties are in those rare instances. In Colorado, the statute refers to an annulment as a “Declaration of Invalidity.” In some circumstances, despite the lack of a valid marriage, a spouse may still be able to seek relief normally reserved for dissolution of a marriage, such as maintenance (alimony) or division of property and debt.

The ground for annulling a marriage are contained in C.R.S. ֻ14-10-111. The specific grounds set forth in subsection (1) of that statutory section, and read as follows:

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By: Stephen J. Plog

10-0-1241769Over the last several decades, divorce rates have increase significantly from those in the 1970’s or 80’s. As divorce has become a more common life event, including in Colorado, social phenomena have also changed. Going back to childhood, we all remember the TV staple, classic, the Brady Bunch. Mike brought “three boys of his own” to the equation. Carol brought “three very lovely girls.” Perhaps the first prime time “blended family” materialized.  Of course, the Brady’s were television and we all live, operate, and deal with the law in the real world. Often times, with the blended family, comes a new child, or children. Mike, Carol, nor anyone else other than those involved in a family law case likely ever stopped to ask about the ramifications of the blended family and new children as relates to the issue of Denver child support.

Having practiced as a Denver area child support attorney for many years, I have fielded various assumptive questions from clients related to child support and changed life situations. Two of the most common are whether a new spouse’s income gets included in a child support calculation, which it does not, and whether people can include or derive a benefit from new children. With the second question, the answer has changed multiple times. Starting January 1, 2017, it will change again.

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By: Jessica A. Bryant

Recently, the United States Supreme Court found that laws prohibiting same sex marriage, as well as laws refusing to recognize same sex marriages validly performed in another state, are unconstitutional,  as they violate the Fourteenth Amendment. This ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges, however, generated many more questions about the effect the ruling would have nationwide and in each individual state. In Colorado, questions have arisen about whether the decision is to be applied retroactively or prospectively and what effect the ruling will have as relates to common law marriages. Continue reading

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By:  Curtis Wiberg

divorce concept family separation

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

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By:  Sarah T. McCain

listen-carefuly-1242913Divorcing with a young child or children can be difficult for all involved, both parents and children. During the divorce or custody process, and after, it’s important for the parents to remember that children need to be allowed to be children. This means that while children may be the entire focus of the disagreement and the arguments, that they should be shielded from those arguments. This is easier said than done;  and many parents believe that it is the other parent who is at fault. Many parents unknowingly involve their children in their Denver custody or divorce cases merely by saying things in ear shot of the kids.  The impact of divorce or custody battles on your children should be considered with every statement you make to them or near them.

It’s always important to recognize the age of the child(ren) involved in your custody proceedings. As the saying goes, “little ears, big pitchers.” Even children of the younger set are able to pick up the smallest of statements. Making negative comments about the other parent to, or in front of, the kids can have a devastating impact on the case you present to the court.  One of the factors the judge is reviewing when hearing your case is the ability of each parent to encourage a relationship between the children and the other parent. Many parents believe that making these negative statements helps their cause in that they believe the minor child will turn against one parent and favor them. However, this is generally not the case and it more often than not creates confusion for the child. It’s  important to keep in mind that the minor child loves both of parents, which is what should be encouraged. Continue reading

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By:  Jessica A. Bryant
stock-photo-47514874-child-custodyOften children have interactions and bonds with more individuals than just their biological parents. For example, they may have step-parents, grandparents, or other relatives or family friends that have helped with their care. If tensions arise between these caregivers and the biological parents questions can arise about what, if any, rights these individuals may have to continuing contact with the children. Under Colorado custody law, there are several circumstances under which non-biological parents may be entitled to custody rights over the children.

The first question is whether a non-biological parent has the legal right, known as “standing,” to file for custody (see C.R.S. 14-10-123). If the person is determined to have standing to file such a request, the second question is the likelihood of the person being granted custody over the parents’ objections. Continue reading

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By: Curtis Wiberg

empty-pocket-1-1536707In Part 1 of this article, I wrote generally about the consequences of not paying Colorado child support. In this Part 2, I will discuss in more detail what a private attorney can specifically do to enforce a child support order, including contempt, garnishments, judgment liens, and garnishment of bank accounts. As I emphasized in the last article, if you’ve been ordered to pay child support for your children, it is not an obligation you should get behind on because the consequences can be severe.

The most commonly used enforcement technique when child support is not paid is contempt of court, pursuant to Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 107.  Under Rule 107, consequences can include up to a 180 day jail sentence and/or a fine for every child support violation.  These are called “punitive sanctions” and are designed to purely to punish for noncompliance.   “Remedial sanctions” can also be sought as part of contempt proceedings, including the paying of attorney fees.  With remedial contempt, there is still the possibility of jail if the court determines an obligor continues to violate the child support order while having the present ability to pay it. Continue reading