Posted On: October 2, 2010

Divorce In Colorado - Disclosures (Part I)

The Gasper Law Group

(Note: Courtney is no longer with the firm as she was "PCS'd" with her husband who is serving our country in the United States Army. We would like to thank Courtney for her time with us and thank her husband, John, for his service to our country)

So here we are. You or someone you know is either starting a new case, or already underway in the Domestic Relations process. I say Domestic Relations rather than Divorce or Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (Child Custody) because both are considered Domestic Relations cases as described by Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure 16.2, therefore both include Form 35.1: Mandatory Disclosures.

Mandatory Disclosures is a legal description of everyday financial paperwork that everyone has. This includes, but is not limited to, bank accounts, housing paperwork (rental agreements, mortgage payments, buying/selling paperwork, etc), and Debts (student loans, mortgages, credit cards, etc.). I say not limited to, not only to poke fun at our profession, but also to point out that Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure 16.2 (e) and Form 35.1 are quite extensive. Most people do not take the time to read the Instructions thoroughly and therefore it causes a bottleneck in the disclosure process.

Before we delve too deeply into why disclosures are important you must understand the importance of the Financial Statement. The Financial Statement is the main ingredient of you meal while disclosures are the spices that satisfy the palate of the judicial system. The Financial Statement is a calculating spreadsheet of your finances during that particular period of your life. You may submit an updated Financial Statement if you get a promotion/lose your job, or have any other significant monetary change in your life. The Financial Statement is the best way to ‘explain’ to the Court what you are making, spending money on, and what sort of debts you have incurred during your marriage, for example. This is a Statement that the Court will scrutinize when deciding Child Support and/or Spousal Maintenance.

Hopefully you are starting to realize that although calling banks, pulling out your old statements and delving into personal trusts may feel awkward and a violation of some sense of personal space, however the alternative may be an even bigger violation. To not to comply with Rule 16.2 (e) means you may unfairly be penalized (i.e. strict Child Support regulations) when you may have very well received a verbal pat on the back (i.e. less than what you are already paying). This is not to say to that you do all the right things (i.e. comply with Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 16.2 (e)) and you may not be asked to pay more in Spousal Maintenance or Child Support. Weirder things have happened. Some people feel that if they ‘hide’ their uncle’s trusts or ‘hide’ their second income they may not have to pay any sort of Support…this is completely incorrect. The more forthright you are on your Statement and with your disclosures the better your Counsel will be able to represent to the Court your current financial situation and may be able to work with the Court to find some middle ground.

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Posted On: October 2, 2010

Divorce In Colorado - Disclosures Part II

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

For those of you who have not finished your disclosures, please keep in mind that Colorado is an equitable distribution state. What does that mean to you and your future ex spouse? It means that the Court will allocate the division of assets and debts equally between the parties.

That means you will need to disclose every marital asset and marital debt to your attorney. What is martial you ask? Marital is anything acquired or incurred during the marriage. So let’s say for instance that your wife has a credit card for Target and the balance on the account is $5,000.00. That debt is considered marital. On the flip side of that, let’s say that she has a 401 (k) that she’s been contributing to for the entire duration of the marriage. That asset is considered marital too.

When you are gathering your disclosures to bring to your attorney, make sure you have everything together. If you bring documents in sporadically, your paralegal will end up spending a long time reviewing the documents.

In an effort to help you gather your documents easily, I have covered the basic JDF financial affidavit.

Section 1 covers income.

The first question on a financial affidavit is: What is your gross monthly income?
This is your chance to gather your paystubs for the last three months. The second question is do you have miscellaneous income?

Most people don’t have miscellaneous income, but if you do, this is your chance to gather that documentation. (If you have rental income, remember it’s the net that you get from the rental, whatever you pocket after the mortgage is paid).

Section 2 covers the Mandatory and voluntary deductions from your paycheck.

Your paralegal should be able to calculate all that information for you, but please remember to include how many people are covered under your health insurance.

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Posted On: October 2, 2010

The Divorce Process - Discovery: Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

Discovery is used in all different types of law, including Domestic Relations. In all Divorce or Parental Responsibility cases, you are asked to provide a Financial Affidavit and financial disclosures to the other party. Discovery goes beyond the disclosures that you are expected to provide with your Financial Affidavit. Unlike your Financial Affidavit, Discovery is optional and varies from case to case. Discovery is defined as, “the methods used by parties to a civil or criminal action to obtain information held by the other party that is relevant to the action.” In most contested, high asset divorce cases, one party will issue Discovery on the other party. This can be in the form of Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents. There are two types of requests, Pattern and Non-Pattern. Pattern Interrogatories or Requests for Production of Documents are a set of questions or requests that are specifically outlined in the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. They are consistent and the same in every case. Non-Pattern Interrogatories or Requests for Productions of Documents are created by the requesting party. The requesting party is only allowed a maximum of ten (10) Non-Pattern Interrogatories and/or Requests for Production of Documents. Pursuant to C.R.C.P. 34 you have thirty (30) days to respond to discovery requests.

The legal definition for Interrogatory is, “a written question directed by one party to another regarding information that is within the scope of discovery.” When you are issued Pattern and Non-Pattern Interrogatories, you will notice that they are simply a series of questions that require an answer. They will usually request very specific information about your past employment history or certain assets you may possess or have possessed during the length of the marriage. Your answers must be detailed and complete. Interrogatories may also be used in parental responsibility cases and will ask questions pertaining to parenting time and decision making.

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Posted On: October 2, 2010

Restraining Orders - Be Careful What You Ask For!

By Teresa A. Drexler
Attorney & Partner
The Gasper Law Group

Here is the scenario: James comes home from work to his wife Jane and three children under the age of five. Jane is stressed out and James is tired from work. The children are already asleep for the night, tucked in bed sound asleep. Soon an argument ensues and quickly escalates with the parties becoming verbally abusive with each other. Jane threatens to hit James and James leaves the home. The next day Jane decides to file for divorce and considers filing a Civil Restraining Order against James due to the verbal abuse she endured the night before. Jane talks to her friend who informs Jane that if she files a Civil Restraining Order against James and files for divorce at the same time Jane can obtain an advantage in her divorce case against James. Jane decides to file for divorce and file for a Civil Restraining Order. Jane includes the three minor children as protected parties thereby unnecessarily restricting James’ parenting time. Jane knows there is really no fear of James hurting her but decides to file the Restraining Order based on her friend’s advice that Jane will gain an advantage in the divorce case if she does. Unfortunately, this scenario actually occurs in real life more often than you would think.

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Posted On: October 2, 2010

We're Divorcing - Who Gets The Holidays?

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

When considering a parenting plan either to propose to the court as part of a contested hearing or when putting together a stipulated parenting plan, everyone must tackle the sticky issue of holiday parenting time. Most parties agree to “alternating holidays,” but the details of what that means are often much more complex. The following are a list of points to consider when making up a holiday parenting time schedule:

• Start by pulling a copy of the school calendar, even if your children aren’t quite school aged yet. A good parenting plan should last you several years and should account for school attendance. Many school districts are opting for more frequent short breaks rather than what you may have grown up with.

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