The Law Firm of Mathis, Martin and Kidnay can assist you in the area of divorce and domestic relations law in Colorado with our colorado family law attorneys. Domestic relations law covers a broad array of factual and legal circumstances. Below is a brief overview of the major issues in domestic relations law:
Dissolution of Marriage
In a divorce action the Court will enter orders concerning property division and maintenance, and if children were born of the marriage, the Court will enter orders concerning parental decision-making responsibility, parenting time and child support.
For Colorado divorce laws with regard to division of property, a court must first determine if the property is marital or separate property, as a Court only has the power to enter orders concerning marital property. If property is determined to be marital, the Court is required to begin the division of property in a matter the Court deems “just,” so the Court has a great deal of discretion in dividing marital property. Debts and other obligations are considered property.
Maintenance, which was formerly referred to as alimony, may be requested by either spouse in a dissolution of marriage action. Temporary maintenance is available in appropriate cases and such maintenance orders automatically terminate when the divorce is made final. Maintenance can be awarded after a divorce is granted in an amount and for a period of time that the Court deems “just,” so again, a Colorado Court has a great deal of discretion in awarding maintenance.
If children were born of this marriage the Court will enter an order concerning parental decision-making and responsibility. The concept of “custody” of a child no longer exists in Colorado. Essentially, an order concerning parental decision-making and responsibility will determine if the major parental decisions — such as medical care, education, religion, etc. — will be made jointly or whether one parent will be granted the sole authority to make these decisions.
A Court will also issue orders concerning parenting time, which govern the amount of time the child will have with each parent. A parenting time order will address parenting time during the school year, Holidays and vacation time.
A Court must also address child support. In Colorado, child support is determined by a statutory formula, so there is more certainty concerning a child support order than there would be for a maintenance award. In entering a child support order, a Court will also address the issue of health insurance for the child, the payment of uninsured medical expenses and who may claim the child as a dependent for the purposes of state and federal income tax returns.
In Colorado, each County must help a parent establish and collect a child support order, although the County’s involvement is limited to this narrow issue. You may call the child support office in your relevant county to get further information.
Allocation of Parental Responsibilities
If the Mother and Father of the child were not married, but the parents cannot agree on issues concerning the child, either parent may file a Petition for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. With regard to the children, the issues and legal standards are identical to that in a dissolution of marriage action; however, if the parties were not married, the Court cannot enter a maintenance or property division award.
Rights of Grandparents & Step-Parents
In Colorado, under limited circumstances, the grandparents or step-parents of a child may request parenting time with the child. This is not available in all circumstances, and an attorney will need to be consulted to explain this further.
Under limited circumstances, in Colorado, a step-parent may petition the Court to adopt their step-child. Also, if the parental rights of a parent are terminated via a judicial proceeding, that child then becomes available for adoption and a Petition may be filed by an interested party.
Dependency & Neglect
A dependency and neglect action is instituted by the State of Colorado, through the County where the child resides, when the State believes a child is in danger. Although a dependency and neglect action is technically a juvenile case, many of the issues are similar to that in a domestic relation case. The parents of the child are entitled to court appointed counsel, if they are indigent, but if the parents have sufficient financial resources, they will have to seek private counsel.
The following links may provide addtional useful information regarding Divorce & Domestic Relations: