When you are trying to work through difficult matters involving intimate relationships, child custody, or other complicated personal issues, a compassionate family lawyer is the advocate you need. A professional who can take your side but is removed from the emotional aspects of the situation could be an invaluable ally.
Even when they represent one side in a bitter dispute, family lawyers work for the long-term good of the family by assuring that everyone’s rights are protected. Seeking help from a Loveland family lawyer could insulate you from the drama and allow you to move on more quickly.
The first contact many people have with a family lawyer is when they decide to seek a divorce. Although Colorado allows couples to negotiate their own divorce agreements, getting professional help is advisable.
Even when a couple is communicating well and believes they are in accord about what should happen, sticking points that could block an agreement often arise out of nowhere and trigger emotional discord. When the parties have representatives trying to reach an agreement on their behalf, the negotiators are not susceptible to the emotional triggers that could disrupt discussions between the divorcing couple.
Colorado does not use the term “child custody.” Instead, it considers the universe of duties associated with parenting—providing home, food, clothing, education, medical care, discipline, supervision, protection, and emotional support—and calls it “parental responsibilities.”
Ideally, courts seek to divide parental responsibility evenly between both parents. In practical terms, however, school-age children usually need to reside with one parent or the other during the academic year, unless the parents reside close to each other. The parent who lives with the children during the school week has primary physical custody. The law considers parents to have joint parental responsibility as long as the children spend 90 nights per year with the other parent.
Sometimes one parent seeks to exclude the other from the children’s lives. Courts usually consider this only when there is credible evidence that a parent abused the child in some way, has a condition such as addiction that impacts their ability to keep the children safe, or the parent has committed domestic violence in front of the children. Resolving such allegations requires the help of an experienced attorney.
Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-115 provides a formula for the amount of child support the parent who does not have primary physical custody must pay to the other parent. Parents could come to an agreement privately, but a judge must approve it. The more closely a private agreement comes to the statutory formula, the more likely it will receive judicial approval.
Child support is a benefit for the children, not the other parent. A parent cannot withhold child support because of the other parent’s behavior. Similarly, child support and visitation are separate issues. A parent must pay child support even if the other parent is improperly interfering with visitation. When facing these situations, the appropriate response is to consult a lawyer about possible action—withholding child support is illegal, counterproductive, and unfair to the children.
Colorado has a law setting forth a formula for alimony, which it calls spousal maintenance. The amount is based on a percentage of the couple’s adjusted gross income and the term of the maintenance obligation is tied to the duration of the marriage. Either spouse may receive maintenance from the other spouse.
Maintenance is not automatic. A spouse must request maintenance and demonstrate that they lack the resources to support themselves. A judge will look at the totality of each spouse’s financial circumstances and contributions to the marriage when deciding whether to grant maintenance. A savvy legal professional could help a divorcing spouse determine whether maintenance is appropriate and present persuasive evidence supporting their position to the judge.
Family issues can be extremely challenging. It is best to let an experienced Loveland family lawyer handle all the legal elements for your situation. Work with a law firm that is always focused on finding a solution that supports the best interests of you and your children. Call the Colorado Lawyer Team today.