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

right-or-wrong-1160031By:  Stephen J. Plog

When starting the practice of law almost two decades ago, the issues of truth, perjury, and false claims were something I may have heard about in law school, or perhaps seen on TV or in a movie.   Scenes of the witness on the stand or the accident victim faking injury to score the big jury verdict were as close to falsehoods permeating the judicial system as I might have seen.   Fast forwarding to the present day, I have now had the ability to witness, firsthand, individuals blatantly lying to the court.  Lies regarding child abuse in a custody case are perhaps more devastating than in any other legal arena.

As relates to custody litigation, the lies almost always relate to either abuse of a child or domestic violence.   They are usually set forth in either an emergency motion to restrict parenting time (visitation) or in a complaint for a restraining order, whether directly in the custody case or as a separate county court protection order case.   Sometimes, they might be lies told to a child and family investigator or during a parental responsibilities evaluation.  Most Denver custody attorneys represent men and women on both sides of the equation.  As such, I have represented many people, over the years, who have been falsely accused of heinous, hurtful, or disgusting acts.  As their attorney, the challenging task is to expose the untrue allegations to the court.   This is sometimes easier said than done and requires insight and knowledge into what courts are looking for and how to expose the lies.   This insight comes with both experience and good analysis of the facts and evidence at hand. Continue reading

Published on:

naptime-1314183By:  Sarah T. McCain

At the commencement of the New Year, various revisions to Colorado child support statute came into effect. Changes to the ability to claim a non-joint child on the child support worksheet was covered in a prior blog post.  The other revisions to this statute, while seemingly small in nature, should be reviewed to ensure that they are properly addressed. If they apply to you, it is important to take advantage of these changes.

When you are putting together a Separation Agreement or custody stipulation and child support is at issue, you will find yourself putting together a child support worksheet. This worksheet will provide you with an end figure that is the proposed amount to be paid on a monthly basis. A Court will follow this figure closely but there are avenues for change to the bottom line monthly amount. Colorado Revised Statute, Section 14-10-115(8)(e) covers deviations from the child support guidelines. Prior to January 1, 2017, the language covering this allowed for specific deviations as stated as follows: Continue reading

Published on:

boy-at-park-1432810By:  Curtis Wiberg

In Part 1 of this article, I discussed some of the concerns that can arise related to exchanging children for court ordered visitation (parenting time).   This included some discussion regarding conflicts which can arise and ways to alleviate those conflicts with well written, detailed orders.  In this Part 2, I will continue the discussion by touching on additional exchange topics such as children not wanting to go with the other parent and the use of new significant others or family members for those exchanges.

As indicated in part one, the primary goal of any parenting time exchange expected by the court should be making sure the transfer of the child has as little impact on the child as possible.   This can generally be accomplished with parents either being committed to getting along in front of the child, or perhaps having no contact at all.

Sadly, some parents like the conflict, and use the parenting time exchange, including the drive to the exchange, to work a child into clinginess or a tantrum.  They might then point to the child’s upset at going with the other parent as “proof” that the other parent is unfit or a lesser parent. This is a form of parental alienation, and neither parent should use the parenting time exchange as a battleground to win your custody case. You are actually more likely to do more harm than good to your custody case if you do play games at exchanges and get called out on it. Continue reading

Published on:

military
By:  Jessica A. Bryant

Serving in the military can have unique impacts on your Colorado custody or divorce proceeding ranging from questions as to the proper state in which to file, special protections for service members, and questions regarding retirement account division. The first part of this article will address the impact military service has on the state of filing and the protections afforded to military service members. The second part will focus on financial issues that are unique to military service and the effect deployment can have on parenting time.

Before a case is even started, serving in the military can cause unique questions in terms of where to file your family law case. If you are seeking a divorce, you must be “domiciled” in Colorado for more than 90 days before you can file. Domicile basically means that Colorado must have been your state of permanent residence for at least 91 days before you can seek a divorce in Denver, Colorado. However, being stationed in Colorado is not sufficient to make it your state of permanent residence. One question is which state was designated on your State of Legal Residence Certificate. Other facts the Court can look to in order to overcome such designation include: the state in which the military member is registered to vote, has a driver’s license, filed taxes, intends to remain long-term, and/or registered his or her vehicle. However, vehicle registration alone may not be sufficient to show permanent residency as some military members register a vehicle in Colorado but complete an Affidavit of Nonresidence for tax purposes. Thus, before filing a divorce case in Colorado, you need to comprehensively look at the facts and ensure there is sufficient evidence of permanent residency for at least 90 days. Even if Colorado is not the state of permanent residence (for example, the military member is stationed here but intends to return to another state after such is complete) as long as the children have been in Colorado for at least 6 months, Colorado will be the state in which custody has to be determined. Therefore, it is possible that Colorado will be determining the custody issues while another state determines spousal support, allocation of property and debts, and grants the dissolution.

Published on:

PT-Exchange-300x200
By:  Curtis Wiberg

In a Colorado custody case, whether it’s a divorce or allocation of parental rights case, one of the details people often overlook in their parenting plan or orders is how to handle the parenting time exchanges of the minor children from one parent to the other. Though one might think that parents will have the ability to figure out transferring the children from one to another on their own, the reality is that without detailed language governing exchanges, ambiguity and confusion can make that which should be simple a source of debate and contention.  Because of this, it is normal for Denver custody attorneys to build in specific language regarding how and when parenting time exchanges shall occur.    There is no one right answer as to how parenting time exchanges should be conducted.

If the parents can remain relatively amicable, and open lines of communication are available, parenting time exchanges usually aren’t too big of an issue. Even in these amicable cases though, it’s important that issues like fairness in travel time and costs are considered so that resentments don’t build up.  Irregular work schedules, rush hour traffic, extracurricular activities, before and after school care, and the costs associated with these things can tax the patience of one or both parties.  On the uglier end of the spectrum, I have seen cases in which parenting time exchanges need to take place in a secure setting, neutral setting, or supervised setting, perhaps due to domestic violence, behavioral issues, or substance abuse.   Of course, these are the outliers on that spectrum.

Published on:

Parent TeacherBy:  Sarah T. McCain

When you begin the process of dividing parenting time between two homes, everyday tasks often take on different challenges. This would include, but is not limited to, dealing with the different professionals that assist you and your children, such as their pediatrician, counselors, and teachers. It is important to make sure these professionals have the very best impression of you as a parent, as it may become important should their role become a point of conflict, or should they be called to testify in court.

First, in dealing with your child’s medical care, it’s important to be involved. During many marriages, one parent deals with the care of the child(ren), notifying the other parent at the conclusion of any appointments. When a divorce is filed, we often see one parent left out and struggling to become involved. This parent is often waiting to receive the notices that they were used to receiving, only to become frustrated with the lack of information that they receive.  Sometimes, that parent may also be accused of being an uninvolved or disinterested parent.  The best way to not only receive vital information, but to also make a good impression on the court as to your involvement, is to be proactive. Find out when appointments are scheduled and try to attend. If you are unable to attend, ask for a report following the appointment.  Pursuant to Colorado statute, C.R.S. 14-10-123.8, each parent is entitled to receive information from doctors, schools, etc. Continue reading

Published on:

hand-with-a-paper-1240142By: Jessica A. Bryant

When starting an initial Colorado family law case, the two first steps are filing the initial case documents (Petition and Summons) and getting the other party served.  Pursuant to the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4, serving divorce papers generally comes in two forms: either the other party signs what is known as a Waiver and Acceptance of Service (acknowledging receipt of the documents and waiving the requirement for personal service) or the other party needs to be personally served (a sheriff or private process server needs to hand the initial case documents directly to the other party, to a family member over the age of 18 at the other party’s residence, or to the other party’s supervisor, secretary, administrative assistant, bookkeeper, human resources representative, or managing agent at his or her workplace).

However, the question sometimes arises, what is the next step if you do not know the home or work address of the other party? Many times, people simply decide to wait and not face the headache of trying to find the other person. Sitting back and doing nothing is generally not the best course of action to take, particularly in divorce cases.  As long as you remain married, even if you have been physically separated for years, any property accrued (real estate, retirement, bank accounts, etc.) is generally considered marital property (with a few caveats). Also, the longer you remain married, the more likely it is that the other party may be entitled to your Social Security benefits due to the length of the marriage. Finally, as the duration of spousal maintenance (alimony) is tied into the length of the marriage, the longer the length of the marriage, the longer a term of spousal maintenance could last. Thus, it is often recommended that you take the time to track down the other party at the time you are thinking of pursuing a divorce case, rather than wait several years and ending up with a longer term marriage. Continue reading

Published on:

division of property
Plog & Stein, P.C. will be hosting a FREE Divorce and Real Estate Seminar.  Come join us at our DTC office on December 7, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.  for a free seminar focusing on the ins and outs of dealing with real estate in your divorce.

In conjunction with a local real estate agent, Krissi Spohn of Coldwell Banker, and a local mortgage broker, Plog & Stein will be hosting this informational seminar.  Learn about your rights and options  related to the marital home, second properties, and time shares.

In any divorce, there are an array of issues tied into how to deal with your home.   Is one party keeping the home?  How is the home valued?   How do you deal with the refinance process?   What will a the court do when it comes to dealing with the marital home?   These questions and many more will be addressed, including as relates to sale and refinancing.    The seminar is free.   Knowledge is priceless.

Published on:

pet-1543980By:  Sarah T. McCain

Man’s (or woman’s) best friend, just like your child, will be near and dear to your heart long after your marriage may end.  When going through the divorce process, often the family pet becomes part of the equation for many individuals, but is your dog or cat a consideration for the court?  The answer is, “yes.”  Unfortunately, as of today’s statutes, animals are not given much thought by Colorado divorce courts from an emotional or feelings standpoint.  Rather, the law leaves family pets essentially viewed as any other piece of marital, personal property.   This does not mean that you should completely ignore your pets when going through a divorce, but taking this issue to the judge may not result in the outcome you anticipate will happen. Judges will generally not be dividing custody or transferring animals back and forth between parties to a divorce case.  This is, in part, because courts have to divide property by allocating it specifically to someone.

As such, when possible, it’s best to try to negotiate terms regarding the possession, ownership, and care of your animals and to get those terms put into a written agreement.   That written agreement can then be made an enforceable order of the court.  In essence, though a judge might not put the necessary thought into how to deal with the family pets, you have the power to come to agreements regarding those pets which you believe are in their “best interest.”   Of course, animals come in all shapes, sizes and types.   Not all animals are considered pets, such as livestock on a ranch.   When trying to reach an agreement regarding animals, where should you focus?  Will you treat the family dog different from the cows or goats on your farm?  How will you divide them?

Published on:

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