Colorado family law is a practice area that focuses on familial relationships and the issues families face over the course of their lifetimes. There is a common assumption that family law is mainly about divorce, and it is true that many cases in this area do involve dissolution of marriage. However, there are matters that affect parents and children outside of the traditional notion of marriage. A parent’s rights and responsibilities regarding a child may stem from a paternity action or adoption. Therefore, family law concepts apply to child custody, visitation, and support as separate from marriage as well.
From this description, you can probably assume that family law entails a significant amount of emotion as well. When you are facing legal issues that affect your closest personal relationships, you can be sure that these feelings can cloud judgment. Plus, the legal concepts themselves are extremely complicated.
Colorado family law includes statutes, case law, court procedural rules, and many other sources. If you do not have a legal background, the relevant principles can be overwhelming.
For these and many other reasons, it is essential to retain skilled legal counsel that focuses on family law in Colorado. At Pomper Price, LLC, this is our core practice area. Our team has more than 35 years of combined experience representing clients in family law matters. We are well prepared to tackle all family law legal challenges on your behalf.
Please contact our office to set up a consultation at our office in Denver, or at one of our satellite locations that serve clients from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs. You can also read on for the basics of family law and our services to support your interests.
Some couples who can compromise on divorce-related issues might qualify for an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one in which you create an agreement regarding the rights and obligations of each party. In many cases, however, there will be one or more areas of dispute between spouses. A court hearing is typically required to resolve matters through a contested divorce.
In both contested and uncontested divorce cases, parties will generally need to address two key issues:
1. Property Division: The initial assessment with this factor is determining marital versus separate assets. Those each party owned before the wedding date typically qualify as separate, and marital assets are those acquired during the marriage. There can be blurred lines in assessing property, since some assets could become co-mingled and each party shares some ownership interest.
After separating assets into these two categories, Colorado law provides for equitable distribution of all marital assets. “Equitable” refers to the interests of fairness and justice, so property division may not be an equal 50-50 split.
2. Spousal Support, i.e., Alimony: In some divorce cases, a lower-earning spouse may qualify to receive alimony during the proceedings, after they conclude, or both. A court will review multiple factors when determining the duration, amount, and type of spousal support. One focus is on the lifestyle the couple enjoyed during their marriage, but another goal of alimony is to support the recipient in efforts to become self-sufficient.
In addition, parents going through Colorado divorce must also address the needs of children as described below.
Issues Related to Minor Children
Though Colorado uses the terms “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” to refer to custody and visitation, the underlying concepts remain the same. Both parents have rights and responsibilities with respect to minor children, and these matters are central to a divorce case. For unmarried parents, parental responsibility becomes an issue once paternity has been officially established. Absent violence or other misconduct, courts typically favor a co-parenting arrangement in which:
- Allocation of parental responsibilities is generally equal, so both parties will participate in important decision-making regarding how to raise the child.
- The child will primarily reside with one parent for convenience and logistical purposes, and the other parent has the right to exercise parenting time.
In making determinations on child custody and visitation, Colorado applies the child’s best interests standard. Our team at Pomper Price, LLC can explain in more detail, but relevant factors include:
- The relationships between the child and parents, as well as siblings, grandparents, and others who play a role in the child’s life;
- The child’s wishes, if appropriate for his or her maturity level;
- The mental and physical health of the parents and child;
- Each party’s ability and willingness to encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other co-parent; and,
- Many other considerations.
Child support is another key issue in divorce and paternity actions. Colorado reviews the parents’ income and the number of children to determine the baseline amount. Adjustments may be made based on the needs of the family.
Other Colorado Family Law Topics: Our lawyers are also experienced in handling cases and disputes arising out of:
- Enforcement of Court Orders: A court order has the effect of law, so it is binding on the parties. You have enforcement options if a party violates orders related to alimony, child support, parenting time, or other requirements.
- Modifications: It is likely that at least one party’s circumstances may change after a court order is issued, but you cannot modify your arrangement without court permission.
- Relocation: One specific type of modification arises when a parent needs to move for a job or personal reasons. Court permission is required to relocate the child, and the circumstances may trigger changes to custody, visitation, and support.
- Domestic Violence and Protection Orders: It is possible to obtain an order of protection against violence in domestic settings. You may even qualify to get a protective order on an emergency basis. If you have been accused of domestic violence, falsely or not, our attorneys will defend your interests.
- Appeals: Most court decisions in family law matters are appealable, but the process is very different from what some parties expect. An appeal focuses on errors by the trial court, so it is not a re-trial of the same issues.
Options for Addressing Family Law Disputes: With these general topics and legal concepts in mind, you should note that not all family law cases must go through the litigation process. At Pomper Price, LLC, our team will advise you on options for resolving issues, such as:
- Resolution by Agreement: If you can work out a compromise on property division and alimony, a court will typically accept your agreement. Plus, you can negotiate arrangements for allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. The court will assess your parenting agreement in the context of the child’s best interests before approving it. Our attorneys will advocate on your behalf during negotiations, prepare the necessary orders, and represent you in court to enter the final decree.
- Mediation in Colorado Family Law Cases: When some areas of disagreement remain, it may still be possible to resolve them through the mediation process. Parties can often get closer together on a compromise with support from a trained mediator. We will represent you during the mediation proceedings.
- Family Court Hearings: After exhausting all other options for agreement, you may need to go through a court hearing for the resolution of remaining disputes. These proceedings are similar to a trial, and our lawyers will guide you through the process.
Discuss Your Options with Our Colorado Family Law Attorneys
This overview may be useful in explaining some of the general principles, but there are many other details and complexities that could impact your interests in a family law case. To learn more about our legal services, please contact Pomper Price, LLC at 720-780-8288 to set up a free, one-hour consultation. Once we review your unique circumstances, we can advise you on the relevant legal concepts.