When you first begin considering divorce, it’s easy to think the whole process is about support, custody and division of assets. As a seasoned Colorado Springs divorce attorney, you can trust me when I say that there is much more to divorce than sorting out the legal details of ending a relationship.
We have often seen our Colorado Springs family law clients caught off guard because they fail to actually think about how they will handle the emotional fallout that comes from a changing family landscape, angry in-laws, and damaged relationships.
Financial and legal issues may be somewhat predictable; and if not a Colorado family lawyer can help make sense of them. However, your feelings at the end of a relationship won’t be so clear-cut as you negotiate the emotional end to a marriage. The overpowering emotions that come up in a divorce usually linger long after the final divorce decree arrives in your mailbox.
The attorneys at the offices of Marrison Family Law in Colorado Springs are often asked questions about how common law marriages are recognized and ended in the state of Colorado. People are sometimes confused about whether or not the relationship they are choosing to end is legally considered a common law marriage.
They may wonder why they need to go through the legal process of getting a divorce when they never were officially married in the first place. If you’re one of those people looking for answers about common law marriage in Colorado, read on and I’ll try to answer your questions.
Everyone understands that kids soak up everything, particularly when their parents are splitting up.
They’re like little emotional sponges, picking up the subtle changes in their parents’ feelings, their discomforts and concerns about the coming separation that can linger in a house during the process. That's why it is important to help your children through your divorce in the best way possible.
The most important thing to keep in mind when involving your children in your divorce is that you shouldn’t tell your kids most of the details about the process.
The bare truth is that the legal process of separation or getting a divorce in a contested matter can be harsh and intrusive, filled with hard questions, depositions, and financial disclosures that most kids would not understand.
Much of how kids come out of the process depends on how parents treat their children during the journey. Whether a parent is staying with the kids, or plans to see them through monthly or bi-monthly visitation or parenting, they need to stick to the parenting method that they feel is in their child’s best interests.
As Colorado Springs divorce attorneys, we navigate this process daily with clients, and believe there are important things that every parent should remember that will help most kids get through these difficult times, and even help them to thrive after the divorce is finalized.
This is the final article in a 5 part case study reviewing a battle for child custody in Colorado. If you'd like to review this series from the beginning start with Child Custody Case Study - Part 1 or review the case study facts.
Judge Bristol changed both Maggie Bright's residential custody and decision-making authority without applying Colorado law necessary when prior court orders are modified.
Was there any way that Judge Bristol's decision complied with Colorado law for modifications?
When any Colorado trial court first wades into the muck that is contested child custody when parents separate, the rules applied to key issues like decision-making and residential custody are vastly different than if those decisions are changed years after the parents' separation is finalized.
At first glance, however, that difference in Colorado law didn't seem to apply to Maggie Bright's case.
THE COURT AND CASE EVALUATOR CASUALLY DISREGARDED AND EVEN TWISTED AROUND REPORTS OF CHILD ABUSE AGAINST THE FATHER
When a child is abused by a parent, most people have a difficult time even getting their heads around the idea. How could a grown person commit such an act against an innocent child, particularly one that is so young and trusting?
Maggie Bright had those exact thoughts when she presented her evidence of child abuse to the court. When she presented her testimony before Judge Bristol, she was sure that the facts, her supporting evidence and suspicions would at least get a fair hearing. But they didn’t.
Marrison Family Law first had to figure out why Judge Bristol and the evaluator Dr. Holmes ignored her abuse claims. Was she a bad witness? Did the state do an incomplete abuse investigation? Was the father’s evidence that strong? There had to be some reason, and answers needed to be found.
This is part 3 of the Child Custody Case Study. To have the best understanding of this case study please refer back to the previous articles starting with this one - Child Custody Case Study: The Facts
Part 3 covers how the court failed to give Maggie Bright enough parenting time, and ignored a public policy to facilitate frequent and regular contact between parents and their children.
When Judge Bristol came back with his bombshell orders of April 1 and April 20, 2012, there was not a single earlier decision about custody, parenting and decision-making that was left untouched.
Maggie Bright was shocked. But in the midst of this shock, her attorneys at Marrison Family Law saw judicial error and opportunity. They strongly suggested that Judge Bristol’s decision was an abuse of discretion and against public policy when so little parenting time was awarded to Maggie, and so heavily restricted for little apparent reason.
Courts can’t just make up the rules as they go along. Our entire system of justice is based upon the idea that a judge will look at the evidence that both sides present, hear the evidence from any other witnesses, and then make a decision based upon that evidence, not personal speculation.
The appeal filed by Marrison Family Law in Colorado Springs claimed that the trial court essentially picked its “favorite” party here, the father. Judge Bristol ignored evidence presented by the evaluator, and gave no credibility to information presented by Maggie Bright.
By doing that, he basically abdicated his role as an impartial judge, and became a supporter, or an advocate.
Every judge knows that most cases where two parents have gone to court for custody will cause some discomfort to any children of the parties.
There is no way around it, which flows from the child’s uncomfortable and growing understanding that there will now be a drastic change in the cozy family dynamic that used to occupy every minute of a child’s day. Even the best Colorado Springs attorneys can only go so far to stanch the tears rolling down the face of a child whose relationship with his mother and father will change forever.
Every day, hard-working mothers and fathers with good intentions go into family court hoping that they will be heard. And every day, many of those same people walk out of court, shaking their heads, trying to figure out why they lost custody, or why their visitation rights were dramatically reduced.
The case of Bright v. Smith is just such an example where a loving mother was left trembling and in tears after a Colorado trial court allowed her child to be taken 1000 miles away and only permitted her to see her son under close supervision.
Financial insecurity is a major problem for many divorced women, particularly those who haven’t worked outside of the home in many years. For this reason, it’s not uncommon to see these women paying close attention to Colorado’s latest legislation about spousal maintenance. In some cases, Colorado’s new spousal maintenance laws will work in your favor but, like child support, they are subject to certain calculations and formulas and based on the combined income of the parties. If you find these formulas aren’t working in your favor, you may want to consider mediation before scheduling court date.