When preparing to start your divorce action, or if you already know that you will soon be served by your spouse, it is important to gather and organize the paperwork that will be necessary. Many people hate the idea of paperwork and even try to procrastinate about it, but being pro-active will save a lot of time in the long run. You will be able to answer many of the critical questions that will help your attorney access your situation and advise you of your legal rights and responsibilities.
On the first visit to your attorney be prepared with the date of marriage, birthdates and social security numbers for you and your spouse, information about previous marriages including divorce decrees, prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, and any judgments and pleadings that involved either you or your spouse.
If dependent children are involved, bring your children’s birthdates and social security numbers. Caring for your children will require financial cooperation. You will need to make decisions about parenting time, child care expenses, educational expenses, and future expenses such as college. You will also need to resolve which parent will claim the children for credit on your taxes. While things won’t necessarily be resolved immediately, start to formulate your thoughts and goals on all of these issues.
The amount of documentation and paperwork you will need depends on whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. As you can imagine, there will be a lot more paperwork required for a contested divorce than for an uncontested case. The attorneys of Hulse Law Firm will work with you so that you can access the appropriate financial information early on and make sure that key items are not overlooked. We are specifically trained to help you navigate a successful settlement and secure your future financial stability.
The process of determining total assets and debt is more involved. You will need to produce paperwork that includes tax returns, bank statements, loan statements, credit card statements, marital home and other real estate information, vehicle information, health and other insurance accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts. These documents should cover your long-term history, not just the most recent transactions. While it generally depends on the length of marriage, three years of data should be sufficient.
Make a list of personal property including jewelry, artwork, collections, and antiques, and also specify which financial and material assets you personally brought into the marriage as individual property. It is also a good idea to pull your credit report and make sure you know about all debt that is registered in your name.
The summarization of a complete and accurate financial picture is a very important part of the divorce process. This disclosure of information will be put together from the paperwork and documents discussed here. The attorneys of Hulse Law Firm will ensure that the financial disclosure is done accurately, will see that your assets are safeguarded, and protect you so that you don’t miss out on your share of your spouse’s assets, investments, or accounts.
Being aware of the documentation needed and taking the time to prepare and organize your paperwork will save you a significant amount of time, money, and much of the unnecessary last minute stress. While we understand this is a very emotional time, it is important for you to stay focused during the entire process of divorce and know that accurate information and financial accountability is critical. As your attorneys, we will also help you create a clear picture of what it will cost to maintain your current lifestyle so that you are well-prepared to move on with your life after divorce. Call Hulse Law Firm today to set up your initial meeting!
If you are in the process of divorce or separating from your partner, naturally you are concerned about how the situation will impact your children. If handled poorly, it is true that divorce can negatively affect your children. However, you have the ability to significantly reduce this impact by making a concerted effort to ensure that your children continue to feel safe, secure, and loved. How you handle yourself during your divorce will play a huge role in how the children respond, even as the family structure is changing.
When facing divorce, couples often wonder, “Should we stay together for the kids?” Despite the fact that divorce is difficult, staying together for the sake of the children may not be a good idea after all. Studies show that children who live in homes with conflict and hostility are actually at a higher risk for developing their own mental health issues and behavioral problems. Children do better with well-adjusted parents who are respectful to each other, rather than resentful, even if it means that they no longer live in the same household. Many times parents find divorce is the healthiest option for everyone involved. Once you have resolved that in your mind, don’t continue to second guess yourself or carry unnecessary guilt.
As a team of experienced and compassionate family law attorneys, Hulse Law Firm understands the variety of highly charged issues that accompany divorce. It is not easy to control emotions and navigate through the various situations that arise. Based upon years of experience working with our clients, we have a few recommendations to help you and your children cope with divorce and the changing family dynamics.
Whatever your questions are with regard to ensuring the welfare of your children during a divorce, put your mind at ease by contacting Hulse Law Firm. We understand every situation is unique. Each of your questions and concerns are valid and deserve to be addressed. We are here to listen and provide expert counsel on the best course of action and on your rights as a parent. Remember the importance of reassuring the children that they are loved, even though their parents may be going their separate ways. Help your children look forward to a happy, healthy and positive future. Call us today!
The long-awaited summer break is almost here, and while children and parents eagerly look forward the good weather and a new sense of freedom, that change in daily routine often adds anxiety to families of divorce. Parenting time schedules are not quite as predictable as they are during the school year. Summer break might mean long distance visitation and vacations. Children may be away from one of the parents or the primary home for a longer period of time than they are used to, and that can be stressful for them. Now is the time to make sure your plans for parenting time during summer break are firmed up and everyone is on board. This will go a long way to help your family head off any misunderstandings or unnecessary tensions. Summer should be a fun, secure, and special bonding time with your children. Early preparation can help ensure that happens!
Some parenting plans are detailed about coordinating parenting time during school breaks and holidays. It’s a good thing to have the original plan drafted in such a way that there is a clear understanding and defined structure. However, it is also important to understand a variety of situations do arise, children’s social and recreational activities change, parents remarry, family dynamics change, and unexpected opportunities can pop up at any time. As children get older and family situations evolve, there are circumstances that would justify a change in a court ordered parenting time schedule, especially during summer breaks. In order to officially modify a schedule, a “Motion to Modify Parenting Time,” will need to be filed with the Court. Don’t assume that a schedule will change as your children get older, but be prepared if that does happen. Hulse Law Firm has a few ideas to help you work around any potential conflicts and prepare for a fun-filled summer.
Because Colorado relies on the “best interests” standard, there is no “one fits all” parenting time schedule, and sometimes schedules may warrant deviations. The more detailed you are with your parenting plan and the better your communications are with your ex, the fewer problems you will run into. Hulse Law Firm offers sensible suggestions and strategies to help you and your children feel more secure and less anxious about all of the adjustments that inevitably occur during divorce and parenting time modifications. Feel free to reach out to us with questions or regarding any challenges you may be facing. We wish you a happy and healthy summer break with your children!
The Hulse Law Firm is committed to provide the service our clients have come to expect and deserve. The safety and well-being of our employees and clients is of the upmost importance. During this tough time, we will remain open for business and will continue to accept new clients. Currently, we are happy to offer 30-minute free telephone consultations. If you would like to schedule a consultations, please call us at 720-773-2900.
What is the Initial Status Conference?
Every divorce case and most allocation of parenting time cases have an initial status conference as part of the process. Oftentimes, the Court will provide you with the date and time of your initial status conference when you file the case.
The Initial Status Conference (often called “ISC”) is usually scheduled 30 to 40 days after the case has been filed with the court. The ISC is either held in front of a magistrate, a judge, or a family court facilitator.
The ISC is required in all cases, and gives the parties and the court a chance to know what the issues are in each case. The court will ask what has already been completed in terms of exchanging financial disclosures, preparing the sworn financial statement, and taking the parenting class. The court typically prefers that all these have been completed before the ISC, but if they have not, the court will schedule deadlines for these items to be completed.
At the ISC, a party can request that a temporary orders hearing be scheduled. This may be necessary in your case if you need immediate relief regarding maintenance, child support, or need orders to see your children.
The court usually asks at the ISC if experts are needed. Experts in a family law case would include, a child and family investigator (CFI), a PRE (parental responsibility evaluator), an appraiser for the home, a business evaluator, or a vocational evaluator. If an expert is needed, the court generally will give the parties deadlines to obtain an expert that is needed.
Sometimes emergency issues are already occurring at this stage in a case. The court tend to not enter orders at the ISC, but if a parent hasn’t seen his or her child at all, or if one party is in dire need of financial support, the court may enter interim orders to solve these immediate problems. If you are in front of a family court facilitator, he or she will not be able to enter orders in your case.
In summary, the ISC is a chance for the parties to be aware of their responsibilities going forward in a case and for the court to have a sense of what direction each case is taking. If you have any further questions regarding the court process, please call 720-773-2900 to schedule a free initial consultation.
The Hulse Law Firm, PC provides a variety of legal services for families, focusing primarily on divorce and custody issues, in Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Centennial, Denver and the surrounding Denver Metro area. We consistently represent clients in Arapahoe, Jefferson, Douglas, Denver, and Adams County. We also have cases from Weld County to El Paso County.
If you are looking to speak to divorce lawyers about your family law case, the Hulse Law Firm prides itself on providing free consultations to potential clients. Please call 720-773-2900 to schedule a consultation.
As family law attorneys we understand we are helping you secure the two most important things in your life: your family and your finances. We do not take this role lightly, and work strategically and compassionately to help you achieve your goals. In order to do this, we pride ourselves on:
1) Responding to your calls and e-mails within 24 business hours
2) Treating you the way we would want to be treated by: providing you with straightforward advice and giving you a realistic perspective of your case
3) Approaching your case strategically and helping you and your children compassionately
4) Tailoring our representation to meet your unique needs in a cost efficient way
We focus our practice on the following matters:
Please contact us to schedule your free consultation today, by calling 720-773-2900 or go to our contact page to send us an email.
Therapist-Privilege in Family Law
What is the therapist-privilege? Much like the attorney-client privilege provides the basis for confidentiality in what you tell your attorney, there is also a privilege of confidentiality between therapists and their clients. This privilege is often raised in family law cases because therapists have insight into the emotional well-being of a minor child, leading a parent to want to use a therapist to testify at a hearing relating to the best interests of a minor child. It is also raised because therapists may have insight into his or her patient that is a parent subject to litigation.
The therapist-patient privilege is created by law in Colorado. Section 13-90-107(1)(g), C.R.S. states that a licensed or registered therapist shall not be examined without the consent of the therapist’s client about any communication made by the client to the therapist or the therapist’s advice given in the course of professional employment.
The purpose of providing this confidentiality is to ensure that a patient feels comfortable being open and honest about his or her emotional well-being, without fear that this information will later be used against him or her. “The privilege is designed to enhance the effective diagnosis and treatment of mental illness by preserving the ‘atmosphere of confidence and trust in which the patient is willing to make a frank and complete disclosure of facts, emotions, memories, and fears’ necessary for effective psychotherapy.’ People v. Kailey, 333 P.3d 89 (Colo. 2014).
This privilege, however, can be waived. For example, the therapist privilege for a parent is waived when a parental responsibilities evaluation is conducted under section 14-10-127, C.R.S. because one of the purposes of the evaluation is to make mental health information available to assist the court in determining what is in the children’s best interests. The privilege can also be “waived” if one places his or her mental health (or defends his or her mental health) at issue in a case.
The waiver of the privilege for children is a more complex issue for the courts. The court generally places a high value on the therapeutic relationship a child has with his or her therapist, and wants to protect this relationship. In L.A.N. v. L.M.B., 292 P.3d 942 (Colo. 2013), the Colorado Supreme Court found that when the patient is a child, he or she is incompetent to hold the privilege. A child’s parent generally holds the privilege (or a GAL in a dependency and neglect case). However, in this same case, the court found that a parent does not have the right to waive or withhold the child’s privilege where the need for the waiver is self-serving.
If your child is seeing a therapist and you believe that person may have information that, if revealed, will help the best interests of your child in a custody case, it may be important to speak with an attorney, as this issue can be complex.
One of the first blog posts I wrote addressed the topic of unbundled services. The Hulse Law Firm provides “unbundled services,” which means I will offer a number of services a la carte’ for you, depending on your needs, except for entering my appearance in your case and/or appearing in court for you. We charge flat fees for unbundled services, depending on the complexity and anticipated time to complete the task needed for you.
One unbundled service we provide is coaching before hearings. If you cannot afford to have an attorney represent you at your permanent orders hearing in a divorce, or a contempt hearing, or other modification hearing, it may still be beneficial to meet with an attorney and receive coaching before the hearing for a much lower, flat fee. Appearing in court is intimidating to most people. Not only can it be scary to be in court and in front of a judge, it can also be unnerving to try and tell the judge your story without understanding the law.
Typically, if you request to meet with me for coaching services, I will ask you to bring any documents you believe necessary for your exhibits. I can make suggestions before our coaching meeting as to what type of exhibits may be helpful for your hearing.
At our meeting, I will walk step by step with you to prepare what you need to tell the judge about each issue in the case, address what issues the court will want to hear about and what issues they cannot listen to (for example the fact that your spouse cheated because we are in a “no fault” state). We also create an exhibit notebook for you to bring to the hearing. Additionally, we will discuss potential cross-examination questions for you to ask during the hearing.
There are obviously many limitations to only receiving coaching services before a hearing rather than having an attorney enter his or her appearance and represent you in court. Not only do you benefit by having an attorney by your side through the trial itself, but you also benefit by having the attorney review your entire case file and him or her having full knowledge of all factors that could impact your case. There are many steps that go into preparing for a case, including, but not limited to: witness disclosure, requests to exclude another party’s witness, gathering discovery to prepare for the hearing, preparing a trial management certificate, etc. By only receiving unbundled services, there are points that may be missed because the attorney does not have access to the entire case file and all potential issues.
Despite the benefit to having an attorney represent you completely in a matter, many people either cannot afford an attorney or do not want to pay for the cost of full representation. Approximately, 70% to 80% have no representation in court for divorce and custody cases. A good alternative, even with the limitations mentioned above, would be to hire a firm for coaching or other unbundled services. Not only will it help you be more prepared in court and ready for the trial, it will also likely give you confidence in representing yourself.
If you would like to learn more or set up a free consultation, please contact us at 720-773-2900 or send an email.
Child and Family Investigator in Colorado
Oftentimes, parents cannot agree as to what parenting time schedule is in the best interests of their children. When this occurs, it is usually beneficial to obtain a parenting professional to investigate the issues of the case, and make recommendations to the parents and the Court as to what type of schedule would be in the children’s best interests.
Different types of professionals include a guardian ad litem, a child and family investigator, and a parental responsibilities evaluator. This article will focus solely on the child and family investigator, otherwise known as “CFI.”
If you go to court without a parenting professional, you often only have a very limited amount of time to discuss the issues before a judge or magistrate enters orders regarding parenting time. A CFI has an opportunity to more deeply investigate the family dynamics and analyze other issues a family faces while in the face of a divorce or other type of case involving parenting time.
A child and family investigator can be an attorney, a therapist, a licensed family social worker, or other qualified professional. The court has “capped” the payment of a CFI to $2000 for the investigation and $500 for testifying at a hearing. Sometimes a CFI will request for payment above and beyond the initial cost based on the amount of work it takes for the investigation and report. Generally, the cost of a CFI is much lower than a parental responsibilities evaluator. The cost of a CFI is either paid by one parent (subject to reallocation at a hearing), divided equally, or divided in proportion to income.
At minimum, a CFI is supposed to review motions, court orders and other submitted paperwork related to the parents’ case. The CFI also is to have an initial interview with both parents individually, each one lasting approximately an hour. Following this, the CFI is to observe both parents, individually with the children during an office visit, and also interview the children alone. Finally, the CFI is to consider other professional references, including teachers, physicians, therapists, etc. The CFI may also consider personal references.
A CFI review the interviews, references, and court file in light of the factors listed in §14-10-124, C.R.S. and makes recommendations as to the best interests of the children. The CFI may also take a more narrow approach and look at only one issue in a case. For example, the CFI may examine substance abuse of the parent(s), or look at what school is better for the children, or look at whether the parent(s) are able to encourage the love and affection of the other parent.
At the conclusion of the process, the CFI is to submit a report to the Court with its findings and recommendations.
The Court is not required to adopt the recommendations, but they often do. The Court views CFIs as neutral parties that have had more access to a family, and view them as credible sources of information and opinion.
An attorney can often recommend a CFI that he or she believes would be a good fit for your case. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss questions about a CFI, do not hesitate to call 720-773-2900.
Oftentimes, in family law cases, one parent wants to change his or her child’s last name. The reasons for wanting a name change are varied. Maybe you had your child out of wedlock, he only has Mom’s last name, and you want him to share your last name as well. Or maybe, after a divorce, a child’s last name is that of a parent that is no longer in her life. Whatever the reason, there is a specific process to request a name change for a minor child.
The Court has the ability to change a child’s name pursuant to the divorce or an allocation of parental responsibilities case. Although there is no specific law giving the Court the power to change a child’s name in a divorce or allocation of parental responsibilities case, the Appellate Court has ruled that “The trial court has the power, founded in the common law, to order a change of name of a minor child…” In re Marriage of Nguyen, 684 P.2d 258 (Colo. App. 1983).
Another way to obtain a name change for your child would be to file a Petition for a Name Change pursuant to §13-15-101, C.R.S. If your child is over the age of fourteen, he or she will also need to get a fingerprint based criminal background check prior to filing the Petition.
After the Petition is filed, a hearing will be set for the Court to determine if the name change is in the best interests of the minor child. A court has wide discretion in ordering a change of name and should not deny an application unless special circumstances were found to exist. Hammon v. County of Jefferson, 753 P.2d 743 (Colo. 1988).
The Court can consider a number of factors to determine if a name change is in the best interests of a minor child as follows:
The Court, after hearing the testimony of the parents, and reviewing any exhibits and the case file, will either grant or deny the name change request. If the Court grants the name change request, you must publish the order in a newspaper, three times within a period twenty-one days. Once notice is given by publication, the Court will enter a decree of name change for your child.
Finally, in order to complete the process, you must fill out a Report of Paternity with the Department of Vital Statistics so the birth certificate may be changed. Sometimes these steps can be complicated to complete; you may want to consult with an attorney before starting the name change process.
(*For more information on what the court reviews to determine if a name change is in the child’s best interest please review the following cases: Hammon v. County of Jefferson, 753 P.2d 743 (Colo. 1988); In Interest of T.I.E., 981 P.2d 649 (Colo. App. 1998); In re Matter of D.K.W., 807 P.2d 1222 (Colo. App. 1990))