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Colorado Springs Family Law Blog

The right approach when disputes arise in a divorce

For people in Colorado whose marriage has run its course, with a decision that it is preferable to part ways, a best-case scenario is that they will agree on most or all issues related to the marriage, have amicable negotiations for child support, child custody, spousal support and property division, and move on. The reason this is referred to as a "best" case scenario in a mostly negative situation is that it happens so infrequently. Oftentimes, there is contentious disagreement over some or all issues in the marriage. This can include children, property, division of assets, asset distribution and more. Understanding the components of a divorce proceeding can be key for adequate preparation and be beneficial as the case proceeds.

When there is a divorce, it will generally begin with a petition to start the legal process. Next will be the summons and response, as the spouse who is intending to divorce the other spouse will issue the summons and the other spouse can acknowledge that decision with a response. Motions are when there is a request for the court to issue orders pretrial. An example might be when there is a need for temporary support or there are protective orders needed in cases in which there has been domestic abuse.

Might a child be interviewed in determining child custody?

When a Colorado couple gets a divorce and child custody is an issue, the dispute between the parties might lend itself to the child being pushed off to the side as an unwitting part of the process. With a younger child or toddler who cannot make a statement regarding an opinion, this makes some semblance of sense. However, since the best interests of the child are at stake, it is wise to know where the child stands on child custody and visitation. This is where the law allows for an interview to be conducted.

It is allowable for the court to conduct an interview with the child to determine how the child feels about child custody and other parental issues. This will be done in the judge's chambers. It is fine if counsel wants to be present for the interview. There will be a record of the interview and it will be added to the record for the case to be decided.

2 tips to make post-divorce co-parenting easier for your family

Shared custody has become the standard expectation in modern divorce. Research has made it clear that children adjust better to post divorce life when they maintain relationships with both of their parents. You can expect to see a lot of your ex even after the courts finalize your divorce, because you will likely need to exchange custody several times a week.

While you may never become as close as you were before, you can navigate the complicated relationship you will have as co-parents with grace and dignity. Adjusting your approach to your relationship with your ex to reflect the realities of life after marriage can help you both be better parents. It can also help keep your kids balanced while learning to adjust to the new family situation.

How does an abusive parent impact child custody and visitation?

Children are one of the primary considerations when a Colorado couple is getting a divorce. While most cases will involve the parties simply no longer being able to live together and there are relatively innocuous extenuating circumstances when determining a child's best interests, there are always unfortunate cases where an abusive parent must be considered when determining child custody and visitation. With claims of abuse of any kind, it is imperative to understand the law and how it deals with these key issues.

If there has been an allegation of abuse or the child is believed to have been conceived through sexual assault with the court having reason to believe this is accurate, it will be factored in with the child's best interests in determining parental responsibility and visitation. Should the court find that this is likely to have taken place based on the evidence, it will not be in the child's best interests to grant decision-making rights to the accused parent should the other parent object.

Information with child custody relocation in Colorado

After a Colorado couple has divorced, child custody will already have been determined as part of the court's decision or via negotiated agreement between the parties. This can be one of the more complex areas of dispute in a divorce. However, just because the case is over and there is an order does not mean that the matter is settled permanently. In some cases, the parent with the majority of residential custody will want to relocate from the previous residence and this can impact a variety of issues such as parenting time. Knowing what goes into relocation and how the law handles it is imperative to all parties.

If there is an intention to relocate on the part of the parent with whom the child lives most the time and there are significant changes geographically with the other parent, there will be a hearing regarding modification of parenting time. The court will account for all relevant factors when deciding if the relocation is in the best interests of the child. That includes if there was domestic violence or any issues with domestic violence in the past.

What if there is a dispute over visitation schedule in Colorado?

The ideal situation when a Colorado couple has divorced and has children is that they agree to put their differences aside and work together in the child's best interests. Part of that is adhering to a reasonable visitation schedule so both parents will be in the child's life. However, there are few ideal situations and even amicable partings can become contentious. One issue that can be troublesome is if there is a dispute with parenting time. Understanding what the law says about this is key to dealing with it.

There will be a verified motion by the parent who is not having his or her visitation rights adhered to. Within 35 days of the filing, the court will decide if there was noncompliance and if it is continuing. It can then do one of the following: deny the motion saying that the allegation is not sufficient to act; it can schedule a hearing and inform the parents of when and where it will take place; or it can compel the parties to take part in mediation and be informed of the results of the mediation within 63 days.

Can I face contempt charges for child support issues in Colorado?

Colorado parents who have parted ways and are dealing with child support issues will undoubtedly be aware that parental responsibility is important. Part of that is making the required payments for support and adhering to the order. However, some parents do not follow the requirements for shared responsibility and will face consequences for that. There are many steps the state can take due to noncompliance, but one that is severely problematic is contempt of court.

A supporting parent who is confronted with contempt of court allegations should understand how this law will impact them and deal with it accordingly. When the court decides whether the supporting parent is in contempt, the court can take it into account if the required payment had been made before the hearing to decide if there was contempt or that there was another viable justification that the supporting parent could not meet the obligation.

Can you protect your children from fallout from your divorce?

There is no question that divorce is often difficult for children. It is one of several adverse childhood events that can impact their social, emotional and even physical health for years to come. As a loving parent, you undoubtedly want to minimize the negative impact on your children of your marriage ending.

The good news is that so long as your spouse is reasonable and willing to put the children first, it is entirely possible to shield your children from the worst aspects of divorce. Even if you cannot get through to your former spouse about the importance of protecting your children, you can take steps on your own to minimize how the level of conflict to which they get exposed during your divorce proceedings.

What should I know about temporary orders in a Colorado divorce?

During a Colorado divorce, many issues will be up for debate and discussion. That includes spousal support, child custody, child support and more. As the couple prepares to permanently end their marriage, they will often have worries about finances and other factors while the case is going on. This is where temporary orders should be factored in and understood.

When the case for a dissolution or any other family law matter is ongoing, either of the spouses can request temporary payments. This can be for debts, property use, maintenance, child support, and even attorney costs. With parental responsibilities, the court will assess the best interests of the child when considering a temporary order.

What is the annual exchange of information with child support?

When there is a child support order in Colorado, there are certain aspects that the parties should remember even after the order or the modification has been completed. Obviously, the focus with child support is to serve the child's best interests, but the case is not necessarily concluded with the order or the modification. Various issues should be factored in when the order is made and the parents are navigating the situation. One is the annual exchange of information.

The parties - the custodial and noncustodial parent - are required to share information as to the calculations of child support and changes that might have come about since the previous order. Other information might also be required. This can be annually or less frequently. The idea behind this is to update and modify the order if necessary and not need to go to court to do it. There are forms that are used for this purpose.

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Mary Kay Kramer, P.C.
1820 West Colorado Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80904

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