Family law is a diverse area of legal practice that deals with many family-related topics, including divorce, adoption, paternity, emancipation, custody and more. Navigating family matters can be complex. A competent family law attorney can assist you at court hearings, help negotiate with a spouse or former partner, and draft documents for the court regarding custody, property, and money that may be at issue.
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.
This article will provide brief descriptions of a few of the many areas that come under the umbrella of family law. You can visit our topic-specific pages on divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and protection orders for more specific information.
Family Law Attorney in Colorado Springs, CO
Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC has decades of combined experience with a wide variety of legal issues, including many areas of family law, and can help guide you through a frustrating and complicated process. Whether you are getting a divorce, in a paternity dispute, engaged in a custody battle, or involved in another family-related legal proceeding, Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC can help. We will work with you to serve the interest of you and your family,
In most cases, retaining an attorney early on the process leads to far more favorable outcomes. Don’t hesitate to call us at (719) 328-1616 today. Together we can arrange a free, confidential strategy session to discuss your specific needs and come up with a plan that will work best. The first thirty minutes are free.
Divorces can be contentious and stressful. You may be concerned about being able to see your kids or worried about who will get the house. Property and parenting concerns are some of the many issues that have to be decided during a divorce, and an experienced family law attorney is essential in navigating the court process.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
There are several ways to dissolve a marriage, including annulment, separation, and traditional divorce. Each type has its own pros and cons and its own specific set of legal requirements. You may wish to read our divorce page for information on the divorce process, what to expect, and how divorce law works.
Child custody can often be the most contentious and frightening issue facing couples whether currently divorcing or never married. The commonly-used terms “custody” and “visitation” have actually been replaced in the Colorado statutes and are now referred to as “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.”
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 Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC 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.
There are many considerations involved in a custody case. Paternity may have to be established first before parenting time is divided. Courts favor equal time for both parents but will look at the “best interests of the child” to determine where a child should live and how much visitation time, if any, will be granted to the other parent. Please check out our child custody page for a detailed look at custody law and what to expect from the court process.
Divorced or separated couples are usually worried about how a child will be supported financially. Those seeking child support may be concerned about getting enough money to provide for the child, and those having to pay may be panicking about how they will afford it. The amount of the payment is calculated using a complicated formula that can be overwhelming to look at, but a skilled family law attorney can answer any questions you may have.
Understanding the child support laws in Colorado is important whether you want to put a payment arrangement in place, modify existing payments, or hold someone responsible for not paying. Our page on child support is a good place to start to learn what you need to know.
After or during a divorce, annulment, or legal separation, you may need financial support if you have been dependent on your spouse for money. For example, you may have raised the kids while your partner worked. Colorado has laws designed to ensure that neither spouse is left in a dire financial situation after or while going through a divorce.
Usually payments are available for a limited amount of time until a spouse is able to become financially independent. You can visit our page on spousal support for more information about types of payments, how payments are calculated, and more.
If you have been the victim of abuse or threats from a current partner, an ex, or a stalker, you can obtain a protection order to prevent them from contacting you or coming around you. Protection orders, commonly called restraining orders, can be temporary or permanent. Once in place, they can accomplish things like force an alleged abuser from staying in your home, coming by your place of work, or contacting your family or children.
Whether you want to put an order in place, extend one, or you have been subject to an order and want to contest it, a Colorado family lawyer can help. To educate yourself on the relevant laws, visit our page on protection orders.
Other Family Law Topics
Our lawyers at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC 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.
- 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 Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC, 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.
Additional Resources for Family Law
Colorado Department of Human Services: Child Welfare – Access the Colorado Department of Human Services to view information regarding child welfare. The webpage lists services that the Division of Child Welfare offers such as prevention and intervention services and child protection services. The site also offers a hotline number if you suspect child abuse or neglect.
Child Welfare Information Gateway: Child Abuse & Neglect – Click the link to visit the official website for Child Welfare Information Gateway. The website defines child abuse & neglect and lists risk factors that contribute to it. Access the page to view characteristics of perpetrators, including those who commit certain types of abuse.
Colorado Springs, CO Family Law Attorney
If you are going through the process of a divorce, a dispute over child custody , or any other family law matter, our family law attorneys at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC can serve you. Family law covers many different areas involving family relationships, including, among other things, divorce, custody, alimony, and child support. Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC has many years of experience dealing with all kinds of family law matters and can assist you no matter what kind of issue you are facing.
We work with clients in Colorado Springs and across the surrounding areas of El Paso, Pueblo, Teller, Douglas, Denver, Elbert, Fremont, Pueblo, Lincoln and Arapahoe Counties. Getting an early start on your case can make all the difference and help you secure the most favorable outcome, so don’t hesitate to call us at (719) 328-1616 today to schedule your first initial consultation with the first thirty minutes free of charge.