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Contact Us 720.594.7360
Colorado Child Custody Lawyer

Divorce FAQs

Where to Start a Divorce

Informed, empowered, and focused clients are those who generally see the best results. Your goal should be to go into the process with a full understanding of the legal and practical aspects of your case. The attorney you choose should be committed to developing the most positive outcome for you as possible—and as quickly as possible. The sooner your divorce is final, the sooner you can begin your new life.

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

Do I need a lawyer to get divorced?
Believe it or not, you may NOT need a lawyer to get divorced. But that really depends on the facts and legal issues in your case. Sometimes, simple uncontested cases can be done by obtaining pro-se paperwork from the courthouse or possibly using an online forms service. If you can do this without making mistakes, it can obviously save you some money. There is always the risk, however, of unanticipated problems that the parties do not understand, creating big problems in even the simplest cases.

Here are a few real world examples of how we have seen cases done without lawyers go off the rails:
Example #1 The parties agree to divide their credit card debt 50/50. All of their credit card debt is on two cards, both in wife’s name, so husband agrees to pay one of the cards and the wife agrees to pay the other. Unbeknownst to wife, husband never makes any payments and by the time wife realizes this, her credit score has been ruined.

Example #2 The parties have a small business that really doesn’t have any value but did support the family over the years. Husband keeps the business as part of the divorce, but the parties do not address what should happen if back taxes were ever assessed against the business. A year later the IRS says the business still owes significant taxes. Husband gets stuck paying the taxes when really both parties should have shared in this debt.

How much does a divorce lawyer cost?
Most divorce cases are charged on an hourly basis with the client posting an upfront, refundable retainer in his or her case. The amount of the retainer really depends on the facts, circumstances and legal issues in the case. Our firm is always happy to discuss what retainer may be required after we learn more about your case.

How do I get a divorce?
To start; take control by educating yourself about all of your options, understanding which of them are going to be the best fit for your situation, and then – and only then – hiring a lawyer.Some of your options include uncontested divorce, mediated divorce, collaborative divorce and litigation. Once you understand which might be the best type of divorce for you, you can then begin discussing the process with your potential lawyer. It is important to find an attorney who understands and has experience with all of these options.

How do alimony (maintenance) payments work?
Alimony, also called spousal support, is an amount of money awarded by the court from one spouse to the other as continuing support after the marriage has ended. These payments are usually made on a monthly basis from one party to the other.

How long do maintenance payments last?
Under the family laws of Colorado, maintenance or spousal support may be temporary, permanent, or transitional. Maintenance may also be modifiable or non-modifiable as determined by the court or by agreement of the parties. The duration of maintenance depends on a number of factors, including the length of the marriage. It is not possible to give a definitive answer to this question, but we can give clients an idea of the range of their payments based on the facts of their cases. There are also potential tax consequences and effects on property division that will need to be addressed as they relate to maintenance; our attorneys can help you understand this in more depth.

Is maintenance the same as child support?
Spousal and parental payments both support the needs of a family, but are based on two different legal constructs. Although these can be intertwined, each payment is individual of the other.

Are child custody records public?
As a general rule, documents filed in a divorce case are a matter of public record. In other words, unless a case is sealed, anyone can go to the courthouse and get a copy of any pleading filed in any case. While these are not custody “records,” the parties’ custody agreement and parenting plan are public records. Divorce cases are rarely, if ever, sealed by the court.

Can child custody cases be appealed?
Child custody can be appealed in certain instances but more often clients are better suited asking to modify existing orders to suit the changing needs of a family. A parenting plan that is in the best interests of very young children (2 and 3) often needs to be revised as the children get older and circumstances change.

How long do child custody cases take?
The length of a child custody case depends on several different factors. The more parties can agree on the best interests of the children, the faster cases conclude. A contentious custody case tends to take longer as often parties must wait on expert reports and the court’s calendar to fit the case in.

What is the legal standard the court uses to make a custody award?
The courts in Colorado use the “best interests of the child” standard in determining custody arrangements for divorcing parties.

Should I talk to my child about who she/he wants to live with?
Our firm believes that a child should never be put in the position of choosing one parent over the other. This can have lasting, negative effects on children. Instead, we believe that working with the parents, staying focused on the best interests of the children, and sometimes using third party neutrals, is a far better way to resolve custody disputes.

What is a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator?
A parental responsibilities evaluation (PRE) is an evaluation conducted by an expert, which can involve psychological testing of the parties, third party collateral interviews, child-parent observations, interviews with the parties, and other techniques that allow the expert to make a custody recommendation to the court. These types of evaluations are not the norm, and are typically only used when the parties cannot make any real progress toward resolving their custody issues and there are significant issues at play, such as serious mental illness and/or substance abuse. A less invasive and less expensive alternative is using a Child and Family Investigator to examine the case and make a recommendation to the court.

How is child support calculated?
The court uses a child support calculator to determine the appropriate amount of child support to be paid by the parties in a case. These calculations include, among other things, each party’s income, the amount of time each parent spends with the child(ren) and who pays other expenses like insurance premiums for the kids.

Is child support mandatory?
The court must always make a determination as it relates to child support, resulting in there always being some amount of support being paid. It is theoretically possible, however, that if the parties had similar incomes, had equal custody of the child and split expenses, that no actual child support payment would be owing.

Can child support orders be changed?
Child support can change as circumstances change. A modification of child support can occur for a variety of reasons: changes in the number of overnights, changes in income, changes in expenses paid for the benefit of the children (daycare/extraordinary expenses). Parents exchanges financial information each year to see if an adjustment needs to be made to the existing order – parents can either agree on a new number or seek court assistance.

How is child support paid?
There are several options for paying child support. One of the most common methods of paying child support is through the Family Support Registry, which is a third party tool that receives payments and then distributes them. Child support can be paid directly to the other parent via check or bank transfer. Child support can also be paid through an income assignment (an automatic deduction from the payor’s paycheck).

How long does child support last?
Child support can be modified as circumstances change (such as changes to parenting time, income, expenses) and it lasts until a child reaches the age of 19 or emancipates. If parents have more than one child, child support can also be modified as each child reaches the age of majority (19).

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