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Larry M. Leach & Associates, P.C.
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Children and a Child Support Attorney

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CAN MY EX WHO HAS PRIMARY OR SOLE CUSTODY MOVE MY CHILD OUT OF STATE

CAN I GET MORE TIME WITH MY MINOR CHILDREN THAN THE ORIGINAL PARENTING TIME

IS IT STILL EASY FOR AN EX-SPOUSE TO RELOCATE WITH MINOR CHILDREN

HOW DIFFICULT IS ADOPTION

ARE CHILDREN HEARD IN CUSTODY EVALUATIONS

WHAT IF I HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT SAFETY OF MY CHILDREN DURING SPOUSAL CUSTODY

Resources and Advice

An expert, ad-free resource that you may want to refer is a non-profit resource that can be accessed at www.helpguide.org.  There is a great deal of mental health information provided regarding numerous topics on this site.  We are impressed with the recommendations made for children going through the divorce or legal separation of their parents.  For children, divorce can be stressful, sad and confusing.  At any age, kids may feel uncertain or angry at the prospect of their parents splitting-up.  As a parent, you can make the process and its effects less painful for your children.  Helping your kids cope with divorce means providing stability in your home and attending to your children's needs with a reassuring, positive attitude. It won't be a seamless process, but these tips can help your children cope. As a parent, it’s normal to feel uncertain about how to give your children the right support through your divorce or separation. It may be uncharted territory, but you can successfully navigate this unsettling time—and help your kids emerge from it feeling loved, confident, and strong.  There are many ways you can help your kids adjust to separation or divorce. Your patience, reassurance, and listening ear can minimize tension as children learn to cope with new circumstances. By providing routines kids can rely on, you remind children they can count on you for stability, structure, and care. And if you can maintain a working relationship with your ex, you can help kids avoid the stress that comes with watching parents in conflict. Such a transitional time can’t be without some measure of hardship, but you can powerfully reduce your children’s pain by making their well-being your top priority.  Below is a list of child’s wants written by that child.  It is profoundly impactful and critically accurate:

 What I need from my mom and dad: A child’s list of wants

  • I need both of you to stay involved in my life. Please write letters, make phone calls, and ask me lots of questions. When you don’t stay involved, I feel like I’m not important and that you don’t really love me.
  • Please stop fighting and work hard to get along with each other. Try to agree on matters related to me. When you fight about me, I think that I did something wrong and I feel guilty.
  • I want to love you both and enjoy the time that I spend with each of you. Please support me and the time that I spend with each of you. If you act jealous or upset, I feel like I need to take sides and love one parent more than the other.
  • Please communicate directly with my other parent so that I don’t have to send messages back and forth.
  • When talking about my other parent, please say only nice things, or don’t say anything at all. When you say mean, unkind things about my other parent, I feel like you are expecting me to take your side.
  • Please remember that I want both of you to be a part of my life. I count on my mom and dad to raise me, to teach me what is important, and to help me when I have problems.

These words come from a very bright, articulate child.  Most children do not have the tools or capabilities to express themselves and candidly, most children cannot identify why they are feeling as they are feeling.  Please remember the courts in Colorado will always care most about what is in the best interests of your children not what is in your best interest.

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I am amazed how many myths still remain alive in the world of Family or Marital Law in Colorado.  Some attorneys attempt to capitalize on these myths and I think that is unfortunate because it does not properly represent the view of the Colorado domestic court judges.  In the “old days” if a woman wanted to get divorced then she would have to persuade the court that she should be permitted to do so.  If a man wanted to get divorced he did not have to get the court’s permission; it was understood that if “HE” determined “HE” should get a divorce then of course, “HE” should be entitled to do so.  In the “old days” the idea of same-sex marriage was unheard of and discussion ended before it could begin.  Today times are very different.  Colorado is a no-fault state and this means that if one spouse or partner wants to end their relationship then a divorce or legal separation will result even if the other spouse or partner is adamantly opposed.  Colorado has Partners in Civil Union for same sex couples and partners who choose to end their relationship must move through a divorce or legal separation to do so.  The Colorado court judges neither favor men over women nor do they favor women over men.  The idea that a man needs to hire a “father’s rights” attorney in order to be protected in the Colorado courts is not true and unfounded.  The Colorado court judges make every effort to understand the circumstances of the parties and act honestly and fairly.  Colorado is not a Community Property state – it is an Equitable Division state and this is very important to understand.  California, for example, is a Community Property state.  In a California divorce or legal separation, every debt and every asset is divided fifty-fifty regardless of the circumstances of the parties.  In Colorado, an Equitable Division state, the court judges and magistrates will listen to “equitable arguments”, usually made by attorneys but can also be made by either of the respective parties if not represented by counsel.  The purpose of an equitable argument, simply put, is to identify and explain circumstances to the judge in order to persuade the judge that certain debts and/or assets should not be divided on a fifty-fifty basis.  This fact also points to the degree to attention Colorado judges and magistrates give to listening to the explanations and these judges and magistrates try very hard to rule fairly.  There are always exceptions and we have all heard the horror stories of divorce court but I can assure that after practicing Family Law for over 42 years, the horror stories are far and few between.  Legally separating or divorcing is stressful enough without adding unfounded myths to the experience.  If you have specific questions regarding your specific situation, I will be happy to privately and confidentially discuss your concerns with you.  Do not hesitate to call.

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Well, here is the truth of it.  Very seldom are couples “better-off” financially following a divorce or legal separation.  Common sense applies here.  In most all cases, instead of one residence which was the case prior to a divorce or legal separation, there are two residences following the divorce or legal separation.  Accordingly there are two utility bills, two water bills, two cable bills, two grocery bills, and on and on.  In addition, having two residences usually requires the purchase of a second set of household furniture and appliances and window coverings.  All this costs money.  If there are children involved, it is most common for each parent to having clothing for the children at both residences not to mention toys and supplies and computers and on and on.  Although there are ways to minimize the legal expenses associated with a divorce or legal separation the only way to minimize the above increased expenses is by one spouse or partner moving-in with a parent or family member or close friend and significantly compromising his or her life style.  Some couples attempt “Nesting”.  This word is used to describe a living situation in which the children do not move from one parent’s residence to another parent’s residence.  Instead the marital residence the children are familiar with is maintained by the parents and the parents rotate in and out of this residence to exercise the respective parenting time with their children.  Although in concept this approach sounds excellent, in reality the two parents cannot keep “it” going long.  The moving back-and-forth becomes stressful.  Sharing the living quarters and sometimes the sleeping quarters of the other parent becomes problematic.  And when one parent enters into a relationship with a third party, the Nesting plan usually comes quickly to an end.  Quite frankly, with few exceptions, neither party is better off financially following a divorce or legal separation.  The exceptions to this reality relate to a spouse or partner who has a gambling addiction or some other type of spending money problem.  In fact, we have worked with many couples over the years who are very much in love but one spouse has significant issues with the other spouse related to gambling or spending money and putting the joint marital assets at risk.  These couples have elected to jointly protect their assets by getting a legal separation.  Most of these couples continue to live together and carry-on their lives as they have done in the past, prior to the legal separation.  These individuals are almost always better-off financially following their legal separation.  This, is however, the exception not the rule.  Getting divorced or legally separated usually has significant, negative financial consequences, especially if there are children.

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The Difference
It is like your life has been shipwrecked and you are awash in a choppy sea. Every divorce firm will come get you with a life boat (well, some will just toss you a life preserver) and they will head toward a safe harbor. 


What is the difference between our 40 year, small, dedicated family law firm and the others? 
Startups may want to care about you and your family, but frankly they are still learning. Giant firms are more interested in billable attorney hours rather than affordable paralegal hours.

Attack Dog Strategies

Giant firms and 'attack dog' lawyers will promise you they will sink your spouse's boat - but in fact, judges have shown they care very little for that kind of behavoir. You won't find that out until you hear the judge tell your attorney to behave. 
That kind of attorney will shrug their shoulders and say they tried. But that strategy doesn't work with the seasoned and sophisticated Colorado judges & magistrates. 

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Our Rolodex is a Treasure Chest
Here is the big difference: once you get in sight of shore, the startup firms and the giants will point you in the direction of the island. They will tell you to swim hard, stay positive. 
Our firm will row you all the way to shore. We will help you build the hut to keep you and the kids out of the rain; help you build the fire to bring hope to the night and keep you warm. We will help you make starting over easier. 

You will need help with real estate (selling and buying), a new banker, perhaps a new car; help changing schools, changing your will, insurance and beneficiaries, and counselling for you and the kids. As we go through the process we will learn everything about your situation, so we will know exactly what you need and make it available to you.

And we will keep an eye out for your signal fire in case you need us to come back. If and when you are ready, we will even help you remarry. That is the difference between the 40 year, small, dedicated Larry Leach Family Law firm and the rest.

 

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Group Benefits

  • Help Line - Unlimited access to our Help Line - 303.409.3561

  • 25% Discount on Attorney's Fees - All Family Law Matters include

  • Four (4) 1/2 Hour Consultations with an attorney, by phone or in the office every year

  • Advice and Guidance DVD  to watch at home to help you prepare and achieve
    the best outcome of your case

  • Whole Family Discount -  You and your family members are entitle to all benefits

Group Members

  • Credit Unions

    All Colorado Credit Union Members
    including Bellco, Pubic Service,
    Sooper, Eagle Legacy, Electrical Federal,
    Boulder Valley, Premier, CU of Colorado,
    Fitzsimmons,Red Rocks, Columbine,
    Denver Community, Colorado CU,
    Space Age, and Premiere

Government

  • City and County

    All City & County of Denver Employees

  • Law Enforcement

    All Colorado Law Enforcement Employees

  • Fire Department

    All Colorado Fire Department Employees

Group Not Listed?

  • We Want To Help - Our list of Covered Members has grown every year for the last 40 years. If you do not see your Group call Kathy at the office to check

  • Enroll Your Group - Group Enrollment is Easy and Free - Large and Small Groups Welcomed - Call Patti at the office and enroll today!

Professional Service Groups

  • Teachers & Education - All Colorado Education Association Members

  • REALTORS - All REALTOR Board and Association Members

  • Paralegals - All practicing Paralegals in Colorado

  • VETERANS - All Active & Honorably Discharged Veterans

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Pro Se - Do It Yourself

Last year over 50% of the people who got divorced in Colorado did it themselves.  This approach is best for a childless couple, with a clear division of assets and debt and the divorce itself is uncontested.

There are advantages and disadvantages to 'Pro Se' and we have tried to summarize these here.  You will also find the links to all the forms and even the formal flow chart of divorce proceedings.


Advantages

If nothing is contested and you have the time then a Pro Se approach will save money. Most of the forms and processes just require good attention and careful and accurate filling out of the various forms. 

You can click here to access the links we have created to the forms approved by the State of Colorado.  

The best Pro Se divorces usually involve at least some professional legal counsel, if only an hour or two to make sure you are not leaving out anything really important.


Disadvantages

There are three general conditions in which Pro Se is not your best approach:

  1. Divorce specifics are highly contested and/or the parties are very adversarial..
  2. Power imbalance between spouses
  3. Unrealistic or unfair Support expectations or Parenting Time expectations

If the specifics of the divorce are contested, such as how many assets one spouse contributed or how much debt should be shared then a poorly executed Pro Se divorce will create problems down the road and you can never change it, even in court, unless you can specifically prove fraud.

Often in a divorcing couple there may be a power imbalance, that is, one partner tends to be more dominant.  In this kind of situation the less dominant partner may be coerced or intimidated into signing a permanent decree of divorce (that cannot be changed) because they did not know they had an alternative.

Unrealistic or unfair expectations about support amounts or term, or about Parenting Time can lead to difficult and usually expensive return visits to the court, this time with attorneys on both sides.  In almost every instance, it is much more expensive to litigate changes to support or parenting time than the cost to get professional advice or help up front.


Advice 

If you download the forms you need (here) and read them carefully you will see that you can probably do it yourself except the Separation Agreement and the Parenting Plan.  You and your cooperative partner can fill out  most of the forms (except the Separation Agreement and Parenting Plan) in a night or two.  

One exception of course is the Sworn Financial Statement; the form everyone detests.  The court requires that each of you prepare a separate Sworn Financial Statement and this can be time consuming. From this document the Separation Agreement is prepared based on Colorado State Law.

If you then hire a law firm to review The Separation Agreement  and Parenting Plan then you can save some money and avoid almost all the pitfalls that Pro Se 'problem divorces' experience.

It is important to understand that following the entry of the decree in court the Separation Agreement can never be re-opened unless you prove fraud.

Questions?  Give us a call (without obligation of course) at 303 409 3561.

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Advertising

We are committed to the highest quality, lowest cost Family Law.  In today's world it is necessary to advertise.  We try to be accurate and creative in our advertising yet ultimately it is about you so we appreciate your feedback and input.  If you have a good question that we haven't answered we will answer it in text or often video.  We also appreciate knowing what you think about our advertising.

"Of Counsel"

Law Firms that we Trust

Divorce, Separation, Adoption and other Family Law matters make significant changes in your life.  We are honored to assist you in the Family Law issues but there are other changes that you should address such as your Will, Living Will, Estate Plan, Beneficiaries and more. 

Here are some Law Firms that we have worked with for over 30 years, we trust them and you can too which is why we confidently can refer you to them,

You can either retain one of these Law Firms directly or we can retain them for you through our firm (this is called 'Of Counsel' - where they work for you through your agreement with our firm).

Even if you do not retain the Larry M Leach & Associates, PC firm for your Family Law matters we urge you to address these issues.

Estate Plan, Will, Living Will, Trusts

 
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How to Get the Parenting Plan You Want

Critical Information for Parents Facing Separation and Divorce  

IMPORTANT:  Your child/children’s best interests are the judge’s only concern regarding your parenting plan.  Joining the court in advocating for your child/children is a winning strategy for you both.   

Parenting Plan

In 1999 Colorado did away with the old custody laws and became a Parental Responsibilities state.  The most recent laws eliminate the word custody from the statute. Parents are now required to create a parenting plan that incorporates: 

1) Decision-Making

Decision-making, determines how decisions in the major areas of your child/children’s lives will be handled between the parents. These areas may include: health, education, religion, extracurricular activities, discipline, etcetera. If the parties cannot agree on an arrangement the court will order either joint decision-making or sole decision-making in one or all of the decision-making areas. Joint decision- making means that both parties have input, while sole decision-making gives all the responsibility for decision-making to one party. Sometimes the court will award sole-decision making for a specific area, like education, to one party, but award joint decision-making in other areas. 

In general the court views joint decision-making as being in the best interest of your child/children. The court will award sole decision-making when there is evidence that communication between the parties is so poor that joint decision-making is impossible. A history of domestic violence often precludes joint decision-making, as does showing that one parent is controlling and argumentative to the point that joint decision-making is fruitless.  

2) Parenting Time

Parenting time defines the amount of time each parent gets to spend with the child/children. One parent’s address will be designated as the legal residence for school and other purposes; understand that the time the child/children spend with each parent is not affected by the designation of the legal residence. Parenting time can range from a 50/50 split to supervised visitation. In general the court’s view is that children benefit from spending a lot of time with each parent. Restricted parenting is ordered only if there is evidence that it is absolutely necessary to protect the child/children. 

The structure of parenting time can be very strict dictating the date, time, place and duration, or very loose allowing parents a lot of flexibility. Parenting plans address dates and times that are important to the parties involved including weekdays, weeknights, weekends, summer, holidays, birthdays, etcetera.  


 

Parent Preparation

IMPORTANT:  Showing anger or bitterness damages your child/children and your chances with a judge or CFI.  You put yourself at a severe disadvantage when you demonstrate an inability to manage anger,  and/or a failure to prioritize the best interests of your child/children.   

Attorney’s Role

In a contested custody case the court will decide what is best for your child/children based on what the judge learns about you and the other parent. Your attorney’s primary service is in ensuring your presentation to the court is maximally effective.

EDUCATION:  In Colorado all parents seeking a parenting plan are required to complete a court-ordered parenting course. Your attorney may advise that you complete additional classes for which you will receive certifications that can be presented in court.  
PREPARATION:  In court you may need to answer questions from your attorney and from the opposing council. Your attorney will practice with and coach you in an effort to improve your performance and alleviate potential anxiety.
PRESENTATION:  Your attorney will work very hard to present you to the judge in the best light possible, amplifying your strengths and mitigating any weaknesses. Please be thorough in your completion of the questions included in this packet. Your answers to these questions will greatly impact the strength and effectiveness of your attorney’s presentation.

 
Child and Family Investigator (CFI) and Parental Responsibility Evaluator (PRE)

 
When an agreement cannot be reached, one party may motion that a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) and/or a Parental Responsibility Evaluator (PRE) be appointed by the court. In 2015 the guidelines changed, capping the cost of a CFI at $2750.00. There is no limit on the amount a PRE can charge (a retainer of $5000 is common), however PRE’s are subject to more stringent requirements including the ability to perform mental health evaluations. A complete custody evaluation will be done by the CFI/PRE who will make recommendations to the court regarding what should be included in the parenting plan.

IMPORTANT:  Please take the time to watch our CFI/PRE Guidance video. The password is available from your paralegal or by calling our legal helpline (303) 409-3561.   

It is critical that you make an excellent impression on the CFI/PRE. Your paralegal and attorney will explain to you the behaviors and conversations that are beneficial and must take place with the CFI/PRE. Of equal importance is understanding what should never be said or done in the presence of a CFI/PRE. Heeding this advice will keep you from making harmful and costly mistakes. The rules of proper conduct that follow are a good place to start regardless of whether a CFI/PRE is involved. 


 

Please Follow These Rules of Proper Conduct

 DON’T create negativity regarding the other parent. Never put a child in a position in which they have to choose between parents. Children almost always know how parents feel about each other. Children want to help their parents feel better, and often say what they think will please the parent with whom they are speaking.

 DON’T involve your child/children in your divorce. Do not discuss the dissolution details with your child/children. Do not let any of the dissolution paperwork be seen by your child/children. Judges and CFI’s look very unfavorably upon a parent that places their child/children in the middle of a separation or divorce.

 DON’T allow stepparents to be involved in your divorce.  A stepparent should behave in a loving and supportive way toward their stepchild/children, and should never insert themselves into the negotiations between parents. Courts detest third parties escalating conflict.  

 DON’T make your child/children a part of planning or communicating between parents. Never use your children as messengers between parents. Never involve children in determining parenting time. As children get older they may have more input into workable schedules, but there is never a time when a child can choose which parent they prefer to live with.  

 DO show and tell your child/children that they are safe and you are capable and reliable. You are a role model for your child/children. Show them that you are constructive when facing difficulties. Be supportive of the other parent. Tell your child/children that both of their parents love them, and that you (not they) will work out any disputes. Insulate your child/children from your problems.  

 DO be reliable and honest. Create reasonable expectations for your child/children and live up to those expectations. Be on time for all visitation. Never cancel parenting time unless it is an absolute emergency. Make sure you can deliver on any promises you make to your child/children.

 DO support and encourage your child/children’s relationship with the other parent. Prepare your child/children to spend time with the other parent by creating excitement and getting them organized. Encourage your child/children to have a great time. Keep an upbeat attitude.  

 DO demonstrate respect and courtesy toward the other parent. When exchanging your child/children with the other parent let your child/children hear you say something kind. You want your child/children to know there is mutual cooperation. Children will feel safe if they know they can rely on you to behave with integrity and character. 


 

Preparing for a Contested Custody Case

 
Spend as much time as possible with your child/children.

IMPORTANT: If possible, do not move out of the family residence until a temporary order stipulating significant  parenting time with your child/children is in place.

 
Since the courts desire to do what is in the best interest of children, often in a temporary orders hearing the judge will opt for keeping the child/children’s living arrangements consistent with their most recent experience. Make sure your child/children’s most recent schedule includes plenty of time with you. 

In highly contested cases it may take more than a year to establish a permanent parenting plan.  The courts, and if necessary a CFI/PRE, tend to view maintaining the status quo as beneficial to the child/children. It is very important that you maintain consistent and significant parenting time with your child/children.  

Encourage a healthy relationship between your child/children and the other parent.

IMPORTANT:  Never alienate your child/children against the other parent.  The courts view alienation as severely detrimental to children.  

You should not attempt to restrict or impair the other parent’s parenting time without a very good reason. The court will not require supervised visitation unless they find that a child is in physical or emotional danger from the other parent.  

Colorado family law stipulates that the court should look at placing the minor child/children with the parent that will do the most to ensure the child/children’s healthy relationship with the other parent. The courts, and if necessary a CFI/pre, will be looking for a parent that encourages their child/children’s positive relationship with the other parent. You will pay a huge price for trying to alienate your child/children against the other parent.

Help your attorney help you!

IMPORTANT:  The judge must order what he/she believes is in the best interest of your children.  Together we must show the judge that your plan is in the best interest of your child/children.  

In order to build the strongest case possible, your attorney needs as much information about you, your values, and your parenting history as possible. Please take the time to prepare thoughtful answers to the questions on the following pages. 

Thank you in advance for spending your time on these topics. Your effort and honesty in completing these questions will greatly impact our ability to advocate successfully for what you most value.


Preparing for a Contested Custody Case

  1. Outline your child/children’s physical, mental, and emotional state. Please list everything that impacts your child/children. Explain how you positively or negatively contribute to your child/children’s condition. Explain how the other parent positively or negatively affects your child/children.
     
  2. List your goals for your child/children’s future. It is important for the courts, and if necessary the CFI/PRE, to know your short and long term goals regarding your child/children’s development. List the educational, extracurricular, and recreational activities you want available to your child/children.
      
  3. Describe in detail your child/children’s extracurricular and recreational activities. Describe your participation in and encouragement of these activities.
     
  4. Explain why your child/children benefit from your being the primary decision-maker. For all relevant decision-making areas please explain what experience, education, and/or temperament you possess that will promote your child/children’s health and well-being.
     
  5. State all the positive and negative incidents impacting your child/children.
    a) List in detail the positive behaviors and events you have afforded your child/children.
    b) List in detail the negative behaviors and events to which you have exposed your child/children.
    c) List in detail the negative behaviors and events to which the other parent has exposed your child/children.  
    Negative events should include all criminal accusations and convictions, all drug and alcohol issues, and all happenings for which we may need to defend or explain your conduct.
     
  6. Provide details regarding your child/children’s physical environment. Describe in detail your neighborhood, your home, and your child/children’s rooms at your house. Explain how your child/children benefit from time spent in the atmosphere you have created for them. Include a detailed account of any concerns you have regarding your child/children’s living environment at the other parent’s house.
     
  7. List your child/children’s relatives and friends and describe these relationships. Include detailed descriptions of the time and activities your child/children experience with these people. Please include both positive and negative information.
       
  8.  Describe your child/children’s school dynamics. Your child/children’s grades, behavioral history, social development, sports and extracurricular involvement are all important to your case. Describe how you contribute to your child/children’s education and school environment. Include homework help and volunteer activities. Supporting and empowering your child/children can be hard to balance. How are your child/children appropriately, and inappropriately supported and empowered by you and the other parent.
     
  9. List all potential witnesses for your case. Witnesses can be anyone that can shed light on your case: doctors, teachers, therapists, family members, friends, etcetera. Be comprehensive. We do not want surprises.
    a) Provide the full name, phone numbers, email addresses, and addresses for any potential positive witnesses for you and negative witnesses against you.  
    b) Provide the full name, phone numbers, email addresses, and addresses for any potential positive witnesses for the other parent and negative witnesses against the other parent.  
    c) Let all potential witnesses know that we will be contacting them to determine exactly to what they can testify, and if necessary whether their names will be given to a CFI.
     
  10. Gather all potential exhibits for your case. Exhibits may be evidence of misconduct like police records, or evidence of well-being like report cards, church attendance, or a doctor’s evaluation. All potential exhibits need to be received by our office no later than 90 days prior to the final hearing as we need to provide copies to opposing counsel no later than 60 days prior to the final hearing. Again, surprises are bad, please be thorough in providing both positive and negative documentation.
     
  11. Provide a history of all employability problems you or the other parent have experienced.
     
  12. Provide a history of all residences and employers for you and the other parent. A short list of addresses and employers shows stability which the court views very favorably.
     
  13. Provide a history of any mental illness suffered by you or the other parent.  Include the diagnosis, seriousness, and treatment.
     
  14. Provide a history of any physical problem suffered by you or the other parent that could impact the ability to parent.
     
  15. Explain the dynamics within your immediate family.  Describe how the child/children at issue relate to their siblings and/or stepparents.
     
  16. Provide a history of parenting time since the date of separation. If your time with your child/children has been limited, describe all your attempts to increase your parenting time and the reactions of the other parent. If the other parent denied you parenting time, include the reason and the circumstances.
     
  17. Provide a history of your education and the education of the other parent. Include all degrees, licenses, certificates, and any parenting classes either party has completed.
     
  18. Detail any potential parenting conflicts inherent in your or the other parent’s work schedule.
     
  19. Provide a history of earning potential for you and the other parent. Outline which party has demonstrated the greater financial ability to care for the child/children. Include the general work history of both parties since the birth of your child/children, and how that history impacted the stability of the marital home.
     
  20. Make a list of problems you foresee related to parenting time. For example, transportation issues like the loss of a driver’s license or living very far apart should be included.
     
  21. Describe in detail the parenting time schedule you believe is in the best interest of your child/children. Include details regarding school days, weekends, summers, holidays, birthdays, etcetera.
     
  22. Describe any discipline issues with which you are concerned. Do the methods of discipline employed by the other parent concern you? Is the other parent concerned about your discipline philosophy?
     
  23. Describe how you do, will, and could encourage a healthy strong relationship with the other parent. Also, describe how the other parent does and/or doesn’t encourage a strong relationship between you and your child/children.
     
  24. Describe the care your child/children have experienced since birth. List which parent changes diapers, gets up in the middle of the night, treats injuries and illnesses, takes the child/children to doctor’s appointments, picks up the child/children from activities, volunteers at school, organizes birthday parties, tucks the child/children into bed, etcetera. Who has been the primary caregiver at different stages of the child/children’s lives?
     
  25. List the names of all teachers, pediatricians, dentists, coaches, anyone with whom the child/children have had close contact. It is important for you to know the names of these people. If the other parent does not know the names of these people please note that here.
     
  26. Describe a typical week and weekend night before your separation. Include the division of labor between you and the other parent in regards to your child/children.
     
  27. Describe your family. Include the closeness of your relationship with your parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. Explain how the closeness of your family impacts the lives of your child/children. How do your family dynamics compare to the other parent’s family dynamics.
      
  28. Describe any behavior from your relatives, or the relatives of the other parent that gives you cause for concern.
     
  29. Do you or the other parent have problems related to substance abuse? Describe any issues related to drugs and alcohol.
     
  30. Describe anything you have witnessed the other parent do to demean or belittle you in front of the child/children.

 
If you have further information to add please do so.    

If you are serious about having the judge approve the parenting plan you believe is in the best interest of your child/children, take the time to complete this questionnaire in great detail. The importance of this task cannot be overstated.  

Your attorney will very skillfully present you to the court in the best light possible. The quality of that light depends entirely upon you being forthcoming and detailed in your responses to the preceding questions. Withholding information because you think it will hurt your case, will hurt your case. A complete and compelling presentation by your attorney is the only way to persuade the court. Building a complete and compelling case requires your very candid and thorough responses to all of these questions.  Thank you again for taking the time to do your best work on this questionnaire.


 

How the Court Makes Decisions in a Contested Custody Case

 
The following information is based upon Colorado family law statutes and more than four decades of experience practicing Colorado family law. Understanding how the court views your case will reduce your level of frustration and help you provide effective information for building your case.

Some elements the court will consider:

  • The physical, mental, and emotional needs of your child/children  These needs vary with the age and development level of your child/children.
     
  • Independent preferences When child/children are mature enough to express reasoned and independent preferences, those preferences will be taken into consideration by the courts.
      
  • Interactions/relationships between your child/children and people that affect their well-being When you encourage a healthy relationship between your child/children and the other parent the court looks favorably upon you. Disruption of normal healthy relationships during or shortly after a separation can be very detrimental to your child/children.
     
  • Your child/children’s adjustment to their current home, school, and community  Stability in areas unrelated to parents is important to your child/children, though alone this is not a basis for denying or restricting parenting time.
     
  • The proximity of your home to the other parent’s home  Logistics are necessarily affected by how far parents live from each other. Parents cannot co- parent in different cities the way they can in the same neighborhood.
     
  • A history of child abuse or neglect and/or a history of spousal abuse  Please note that allegations and suspicions are not enough. In order to restrict parenting time there must be credible evidence of abuse.
     
  • Past patterns of involvement with your child/children exhibited by you and the other parent  The court will determine whether mutual decision-making will afford your child/children a positive and nurturing environment. Values, time commitment, mutual support, ability to compromise and a record of putting your child/children’s need first will influence the court’s decision. Your history of conflict resolution with the other parent will affect the court’s determination.

 
Thank you

 
Thank you in advance for taking the time to provide the information upon which we will build your very strongest case. We are grateful for the opportunity to advocate for you and what is best for your child/children.