We understand that, if you are reading this information, you are considering or have already decided to end your marriage. This is one of the single most important decisions you will ever make. For this reason, we focus on the human side of divorce, not just family law.
If you have children, we focus on the children, not the parents. Not only is this what the courts want to see from parents who are getting divorced, but, more importantly, it is what your children need. The more you focus on what is best for your children, the more likely you are to have increased parenting time with and decision making for your children.
Whether you have children or not, we strive to keep your divorce as amicable as possible. However, some divorces are "high conflict," and we recognize this. In a high conflict divorce, it is critical that all court orders be very clear and properly drafted so that they can be enforced by contempt if needed. A clear order also reduces the potential for disagreement or arguments about what the order requires and prohibits.
We understand the importance of properly using words like "should," "shall," and "must." Properly using these words can make the difference between successfully enforcing an order by contempt of court vs. having to get a new order from the Court.
Our experience defending against contempt of court proceedings helps us draft your divorce orders with proper language and commands. Call us today to discuss your divorce questions.
PARENTING TIME (FORMERLY CHILD CUSTODY)
Nothing in a divorce or "custody dispute" is more important than how much time you will get to spend with your children. Parenting time is different from decision making. Parenting time used to be called child custody, but the term was changed to emphasize that children are not property to be divided in a divorce or parenting time dispute. Decision making is the term that describe which person has the right to make decisions affecting a child's health and welfare.
The focus in a parenting time dispute should be on the children's needs, not the parents. It is critical that, in a parenting time dispute, you do not let anger or animosity overpower your best judgment about what is best for your children. This not only hurts your children, it also hurts your case.
By focusing on your children's individual needs and advocating for their best interests, you can show the Court that you are willing and able to put your children before yourself. This increases your chances of not only having more parenting time with your children but also having joint or sole decision-making for your children.
From start to finish, we work with you to help you focus on the needs of your children and your desire to spend as much time with them as possible.
DECISION MAKING (FOR YOR CHILDREN)
The Court will specify who has the right to make decisions regarding your children's healthcare, education, religious, and other major decisions. Decision-making can be either joint or sole, meaning one person has the power to make all decisions or both parents make decisions jointly.
In the case of a high conflict divorce, it is unlikely the Court will order joint decision-making. However, if both parties can put the children's needs and desires before their own, joint decision-making is more likely to be ordered by the Court.
We strive to ensure you have as much decision making power as possible. If the Court does not give you decision making power, we fight to give you access to your children's health and education records and an order that the other parent consult with you, even though he or she gets to make the final decision.
Domestic violence has a negative impact on joint decision making, and if the non-agressor objects to joint decision making, the law states joint decision making shall not be ordered.
False allegations of domestic violence can cut the other way. If the Court is convinced that there was a false allegation of domestic violence to try and prevent joint decision making from being ordered, the Court will consider this and may order joint decision making for the other parent.
Child support in colorado is determined by a statuary formula created by the legislature (in some circumstances, deviations are permitted). Depending on whether or not both parties involved are W-2 (hourly or salaried) employees, this calculation can be straight forward or very complex.
When someone receives commission income, fringe benefits such as a company provided automobile, or other similar benefits, calculating that person's income for child support purposes can be difficult. In such a case, it is key to capture and count all benefits that are considered income.
We can assist you in calculating what the recommended child support is based on the statutory formula and whether or not you qualify for one of the rare instances in which a deviation from this formula may be permitted.
A guiding principle for child support in Colorado is that the children of a marriage should not have a lower standard of living or financial resources because of their parent's divorce.
This same formula applies to parents who were never married or who never lived together.
Call us today if you need help enforcing child support or are considering asking the court to modify the current child support you are paying or receiving.
CONTEMPT OF COURT DEFENSE (ENFORCEMENT ACTION Defense)
Unfortunately, it is not an uncommon situation for one party to file a contempt of court action against another party to enforce child support, parenting time, or a division of property.
For an order to be enforced, it must command a certain action be taken or it must prohibit certain actions. In both instances, the order must be clear and should use commands such as "shall" or "must." While the language of an order can be an excellent defense against a contempt of court proceeding, it is a temporary defense. If the order sought to be enforced is invalid, ambiguous, or is unenforceable for another reason, you should expect that a new order will be issued to correct the errors.
If you have been served with a Motion to Show Cause, (the order from the court that requires you to appear before the court and explain why you should not be held in contempt of court) you must act quickly. In Colorado, your initial hearing could be as early as 21 days after you were served with the Motion to Show Cause. If you fail to appear at this initial hearing, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest.
We use our experience defending against contempt of court proceedings and our understating of constitutional due process to defend against a contempt of court proceeding. We also work with you and the opposing party to negotiate a new order or remedial measures if appropriate.
Enforcement actions (Contempt of Court prosecution)
Contempt of court can be used to enforce parenting time, child support, the division of property, or someone exercising decision making that they are not supposed to be exercising.
Before filing a contempt of court action, the order needs to be reviewed carefully. If the order does not explicitly require someone to perform or abstain from a certain act, the order is probably not enforceable by contempt. In such a case, the order must be clarified or a new order obtained in order to seek contempt of court on that issue.
In the case of someone's failure to pay child support, the order is generally always enforceable, but there are defenses to the contempt of court action that the other party can assert.
We have extensive experience defending against contempt of court and criminal issues. This experience helps us analyze possible contempt of court actions for any weaknesses and steps that may need to be taken before a Motion to Show Cause is filed with the court.
If you are considering filing a contempt of court action, we suggest you consult with an attorney. The legal pleadings filed with the court and the services of process must be completed properly or jail is not an option for the court.