Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases
Published on:

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

Published on:

hand-in-hand-1428232-300x211By: Janette Jordan

Congratulations, you have your final adoption hearing scheduled.  To get to this point, you have had to comply with the Colorado Revised Statute 19-5-202 and 203. These statutes provide the basis for who can adopt and who can be adopted. In addition to the Adoption paperwork, proposed orders, and filings, you will have completed your home study, submitted your Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) background checks, and completed your Department of Human Services TRIALS background check.

You may be nervous about what to expect at the final adoption hearing. Presuming that your case is uncontested, meaning no one is challenging your adoption of the minor child, the process is relatively smooth and often cause for celebration. The courts look forward to a non-contested adoption because it is a rare opportunity for them to be a part of solidifying a family unit. Remember, they are faced with nasty divorces, parenting time disputes, and allegations of abuse and misconduct day in and day out. Your case is what they are looking forward to on their docket that day in terms of something positive and good to focus on.

Published on:

654679896-AlimIn any Denver divorce, there is the potential for one spouse or other to be awarded alimony, called “maintenance” under Colorado Revised Statutes.     Alimony is designed to provide financial support for a spouse who is unable to meet his or her reasonable financial needs or pay necessary living expenses in light of the parties getting a divorce.   The specific statutory standards for alimony are set forth in C.R.S. 14-10-114.    Pursuant to statute, there are various, enumerated factors court should look at when determining the issue of alimony.  Those can include income of the parties, resources available to them, any disability one spouse might have, whether one party is caring for an extremely young or disabled child, and the standard of living the parties maintained during the marriage.    The court might also look at whether the prospective payer spouse will have the ability to meet his or her own reasonable financial needs while also paying alimony.

Starting in 2014, statute was amended with the Colorado legislature including a formula for calculating alimony for couples making under a combined $360,000 per year adjusted gross income.   A table setting forth duration based on number of months married was also input into the statute.    Though the formula and duration chart are not mandatory, courts are encouraged to follow them and if they do not, they should set forth the reason(s) why.   Of course there are families making more than a combined $360,000 per year and courts are still vested with discretion regarding the issue, though it is much less gray and much more formulaic than in years past.    Of all the factors statute indicates a court should look at, income is the most important.  A  support order for alimony will ultimately be entered, which will set forth the monthly amount (or other payment terms) and duration of the maintenance.   In most cases, after that support order is entered, support is paid pursuant to the terms and the parties move on with their lives.   However, that’s not the end of the story.   As with any situation in life, things can change.   Statute acknowledges this by affording people the opportunity to modify their alimony orders in certain situations, both as to amount and duration. Continue reading

Published on:

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

Published on:

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

Published on:

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

Published on:

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

Published on:

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.

Continue reading

Published on:

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

Published on:

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