Colorado Divorce Law 101 (2021 Edition)

Rebecca Goldmanis
Jennifer McDonald
Jennifer Alldredge
Cheryl F. Smith
Beth Andersen
Dorothy Walsh Ripka
Rebecca Goldmanis | Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.
Jennifer McDonald | The Law Firm of Jennifer S. McDonald, LLC
Jennifer Alldredge | Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio, P.C.
Cheryl F. Smith | Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio, P.C.
Beth Andersen | Andersen Law PC
Dorothy Walsh Ripka | Cordell & Cordell - Greenwood Village

On-Demand: November 15, 2021

Colorado Divorce Law 101 (2021 Edition)
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Program Summary

Session I- Colorado Child Custody – Allocation of Parental Responsibilities - Rebecca Goldmanis

This presentation will cover the basics of child custody in Colorado which is now broken into two discreet categories, parenting time and decision-making authority. The session will briefly address the standards used in Colorado for both an initial determination and a future modification. We will explore the specific factors the court must address when entering orders related to parenting time and decision making and how experts can be utilized to assist the court or the parties in resolving these issues. If time permits, we will also discuss when a court has jurisdiction to enter initial child custody orders in Colorado.

Key topics

  • Parenting Time
  • Decision Making
  • Best Interests Standard
  • Endangerment Standard

Session II- Spousal support /alimony - Rebecca Goldmanis

This session will address spousal support/alimony, now known as maintenance in Colorado. We will address how to calculate maintenance, the tax ramifications of a maintenance order, the modifiability of any such order, and what factors the court can consider when determining whether or not to award maintenance. Although the session will not specifically address financial disclosures and required sworn financial statements, it will address the implication of these documents on any award of maintenance.

Key topics

  • Maintenance calculations
  • Modifiability
  • Factors to be considered in a maintenance award

Session III- Pleadings and Filings – Jennifer McDonald

An overview of the pleadings and filings necessary to complete your Colorado divorce case, from beginning to end. Ms. McDonald will walk through documents every party needs to file with the Court, as well as the Court orders that are issued in every divorce case. She will discuss what should be included in any settlement agreements, and what documents constitute the "final orders" in a divorce case in Colorado.

Key topics

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
  • Child support worksheets and Maintenance Advisement
  • Separation Agreements
  • Decree of Dissolution

Session IV- Equitable Distribution – Jennifer Alldredge and Cheryl Smith

Central to every dissolution to marriage is the complex issue of “equitable distribution.” Colorado is an “equitable division” state, meaning that the Court must divide a marital estate equitably rather than equally. After setting aside any separate property to either party a Court must first determine if an interest is “property” or “mere expectancy” interest. Once identified, marital property must be valued and divided equitably pursuant to the statutory factors identified in C.R.S. 14-10-113.

Colorado is an equitable division state. Equitable does not necessarily mean “equal.” The webinar will explain C.R.S. 14-10-113.When someone gets divorced they get ICED – you need to Identify the Assets/Debts, Classify the Assets/Debts and Equitably Divide the Assets/Debts. C.R.S. 14-10-113 describes what is considered separate and marital property and how the Court considers the assets and debts when dividing the marital property.

Key topics

  • Financial circumstance and how it relates to equitable division
  • Constitutes “marital property” and what is separate property and who has the burden of proving the same
  • What happens when separate property is comingled during the marriage or when separate property creates income during the marriage
  • What methods are used in dividing assets once a determination deemed “equitable” is reached
  • Determine how to identify assets and debts in a marriage using the Sworn Financial Statement as a guide
  • Tracing Separation property and the law regarding what a litigant need to do in order to prove an asset is separate property
  • Pitfalls in C.R.S. 14-10-113 including commingling of assets, “gifts to the marriage” and similar issues that arise in divorces

Session V- Unbundled Legal Service – Beth Andersen

Maximize your clientele and protect your flexibility by practicing unbundled legal services. Colorado allows attorneys attorney to coach, files pleadings, negotiate, and even attend court on an unbundled discrete legal representation basis. Learn how to incorporate this popular representation style into your practice.

Key topics

  • Engagement letter and retaining clients
  • How to handle court with a limited entry of appearance
  • Ghost writing
  • Ethical Issues & protections

Session VI- Premarital Agreements - Dorothy Walsh
Attorneys can expect to learn about the benefits and pitfalls of marital agreements in Colorado.

Key topics

  • When should one be prepared?
  • What should be included
  • How can one be challenged?

This course is co-sponsored with myLawCLE.

Date / Time: November 15, 2021

  • 12:00 pm – 4:50 pm Eastern
  • 11:00 am – 3:50 pm Central
  • 10:00 am – 2:50 pm Mountain
  • 9:00 am – 1:50 pm Pacific

Choose a format:

Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program "live" in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for "live" CLE credit.

On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 5 business days after the original recording date and are viewable for up to one year.

Closed-captioning available

Speakers

Rebecca Goldmanis_Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C._myLawCLERebecca Goldmanis | Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.

Rebecca Goldmanis is a partner at the law firm of Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C., an AV rated Castle Rock law firm specializing in the areas of family law and estate planning. Rebecca limits her practice to the area of family law. As a former deputy district attorney for the First Judicial District Attorney’s office, Rebecca has extensive trial experience, including jury trials and trials to the court. In that capacity, Rebecca served as a special prosecutor for the city of Broomfield as well as an instructor at the Jefferson County Police Academy. After transitioning from criminal law at the District Attorney’s office over 16 years ago, Rebecca began working with families to address parenting time issues, division of property and maintenance, and various other challenges facing families as they navigate the dissolution process. After working in various areas of the law, Rebecca found a true passion for the area of family law and has focused exclusively in that area for nearly 15 years. Representing men and women alike, Rebecca believes that understanding all sides of these complex family matters helps ensure her ability to advocate zealously for all of her clients.

Rebecca is a past president of the Douglas/Elbert Bar Association and also served on the board as Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. Rebecca sat on the board of directors for the Women’s Crisis Center, and has spent years representing parties struggling as victims of domestic violence. Rebecca spent several years continuing her work with the Douglas/Elbert Bar Association awarding college scholarships to children in the Douglas and Elbert County areas for excellence in academics, dedication to service and financial need. In addition to the Douglas/Elbert Bar Association, Rebecca is a member of the Colorado Bar Association and the Family Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association. Rebecca was initially selected as a Super Lawyer’s Rising Start in 2017 and 2018 and has been selected as a Super Lawyer in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. Rebecca is also a Fellow of the Colorado Bar Association.

In addition, she is a member of the Colorado Bar Association Family Law Section. Rebecca presented at the 2017 Family Law Institute regarding family trusts in divorce. Ms. Goldmanis’ co-authored an article entitled “Attorney’s Fees” in the Spring 2020 edition of the ABA’s Family Advocate. She also wrote an article entitled “Children’s Environmental Health” which was published in 2003. She is now an attorney for Douglas County (including Castle Rock and Parker) ,Arapahoe County, Elbert County and all surrounding Colorado counties. Rebecca received her JD from the University of Colorado School of Law. She served on the board for the Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy.

 

Jennifer McDonald_The Law Firm of Jennifer S. McDonald, LLC_myLawCLEJennifer McDonald | The Law Firm of Jennifer S. McDonald, LLC

Jennifer McDonald is a family law, divorce, and child custody attorney. She is also a trained Child and Family investigator (CFI). Ms. McDonald has extensive experience in divorce, child custody, parenting time, child support, maintenance, modifications, civil protection orders, juvenile, paternity cases, mediation, domestic appeals, and dependency and neglect cases. Ms. McDonald is an active member of the Colorado Bar Association, Colorado Women’s Bar Association, and the Family Law section. She is also a member of the Arapahoe County Bar Association. Ms. McDonald is dedicated to helping people navigate the complex issues related to divorce and child custody. She works hard to ensure good outcomes for her clients and for children.

 

Jennifer Alldredge_Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio, P.C._myLawCLEJennifer Alldredge | Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio, P.C.

Jennifer Alldredge is an Equity Shareholder at Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio, P.C. specializing in litigating and negotiating family law cases. Jennifer prides herself on focusing on her clients’ needs, developing personalized solutions that help them navigate difficult situations such as divorce and child custody. Jennifer provides expert guidance and compassionate advice to individuals during an emotional and life-changing time. Jennifer provides a clear, efficient and reasoned approach to help clients move through the divorce process in a supportive way. First and foremost, Jennifer listens to her clients and identifies their priorities. She then uses her advocacy and interpersonal skills to achieve what is in the best interest of her clients and their children. Jennifer’s clients have openly recommended her, referencing her warmth, responsiveness and ‘out of the box’ thinking as being critical elements to the positive resolution of their situation.

Jennifer is a member of the Family Law Section of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, the Colorado Collaborative Divorce Professionals, and the Metropolitan Denver Interdisciplinary Committee. She is also a past board member of the out of Court Divorce Center and the Board of the Littleton Historical Museum. She is also a member of the multi-cultural, multi-generational network of women, Ellevate; and the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys. Additionally, she is a resource for UntangletheKnot.com.

Jennifer contributed and presented at a two-day Court Compass convening with IAALS (Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System) at the University of Denver in 2016. She is a member of the Leadership Team for the Family Law Portal Project sponsored by the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, Honoring Families Initiative; and is a volunteer with the Florence Critteron Family Law Clinic and the Arapahoe County Pro Se Clinic. Jennifer acted as a moderator for the “What Family Court Judges Want you to Know” Continuing Legal Education course on November 4, 2016 and is presenting a section of a CLE on December 14, 2017. Jennifer has also been a student coach for the family law class at Denver University, College of Law for a number of years.

 

Cheryl F. Smith_Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio, P.C._myLawCLECheryl F. Smith | Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio, P.C.

Cheryl F. Smith earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science at Lehigh University and her J.D. from New York Law School, where she earned the public service certificate and was on the Dean’s List. Prior to joining RWO in Colorado, Cheryl worked in boutique law firms in New York City. Cheryl was licensed to practice law in New York in 2006 and was licensed to practice law in Colorado in 2014. Cheryl practices in the area of domestic relations. She understands that going through a divorce is difficult and approaches every case with the client’s best interest as her main focus. Her work in family law matters includes dissolution of marriage, legal separation, pre-marital agreements, post-nuptial agreements, parenting time issues (custody), child support, drafting and reviewing marital agreements, high conflict matters, high asset cases and modifications of orders and agreements.

Cheryl litigates complex matrimonial and family law matters while putting the client’s goals and needs first. Every effort is made to achieve resolution never losing sight of the fact that some matters may require judicial intervention. Cheryl is a member of the New York Bar Association, the Denver Bar Association and the Colorado Bar Association. She also serves on the board of Colorado Children’s First, a nonprofit which is aimed to assist children in abusive situations. She is a member of the Junior League of Denver where she testified in front of the legislature in support of full-day Kindergarten which was passed.

Cheryl received the distinction of Superlawyers Rising Stars from 2017-2020. She also received Top 100 Lawyers in 2017 and Top Ten Under 40 in 2017.

 

Beth Andersen_Andersen Law PC_myLawCLEBeth Andersen | Andersen Law PC

Beth Andersen, owner of Andersen Law PC, has been practicing unbundled legal services in family law cases in Colorado for several years, well before the practice was popular. She immediately commenced court appearances on a limited appearance when this practice was first allowed. She was part of a team trained by the Colorado Bar Association to present trainings on Unbundled Legal Services. She served on the Access to Justice Committee for Jefferson County, trained several local nonprofits, and represented hundreds of clients on an unbundled basis. Her practice illustrates that practicing unbundled legal services in a Family Law case can be profitable, rewarding and a great way to land top clients who eventually convert to full-service representation.

 

Dorothy Walsh Ripka_Cordell & Cordell - Greenwood Village_myLawCLEDorothy Walsh Ripka | Cordell & Cordell – Greenwood Village

Dealing with gender stereotypes against men in family law is nothing new for seasoned divorce lawyer Dorothy Walsh Ripka. Her experience with a biased child custody evaluator highlighted everything Ms. Ripka and Cordell & Cordell fight for with respect to father’s rights. In the custody battle between the mother and the father, the original custody evaluator’s report was filled with stereotypes and anti-dad biases and recommended the mother have primary custody.

Ms. Ripka found an unbiased evaluator for a second opinion that ultimately ended up favoring the father and the judge awarded primary custody to the dad. “It shows that we don’t accept the norm,” she said. “We keep fighting about what is truly in the child’s best interest and not just accepting societal norms that the child should automatically be with the mom.” Ms. Ripka said it’s her responsibility to help clients cope with what can be an emotionally and financially challenging situation. It is crucial for men to hire an attorney they feel comfortable talking to so that there are no secrets.

“I want to make sure clients know what they say is not being judged,” Ms. Ripka said. “Nothing you tell me will shock me or is probably even the worst thing that I have heard today.”

Agenda

Session I – Colorado Child Custody – Allocation of Parental Responsibilities | 12:00pm – 12:25pm
1. Parenting Time | 12:00pm – 12:07pm
2. Decision Making | 12:07pm – 12:14pm
3. Best Interests Standard | 12:14pm- 12:20pm
4. Endangerment Standard | 12:20pm – 12:25pm

Session II- Spousal support /alimony | 12:25pm – 12:50pm
1. Maintenance calculations | 12:25pm – 12:35pm
2. Modifiability | 12:35pm – 12:42pm
3. Factors to be considered in a maintenance award | 12:42pm – 12:50pm

Break | 12:50pm – 1:00pm

Session III – Pleadings and Filings | 1:00pm – 1:50pm
1. Petition for Dissolution of Marriage | 1:00pm – 1:15pm
2. Child support worksheets and Maintenance Advisement | 1:15pm – 1:30pm
3. Separation Agreements | 1:30pm – 1:40pm
4. Decree of Dissolution | 1:40pm- 1:50pm

Break | 1:50pm – 2:00pm

Session IV- Equitable Distribution | 2:00pm- 2:50pm
1. Financial circumstance and how it relates to equitable division | 2:00pm – 2:05pm
2. Constitutes “marital property” what is separate property and who has the burden of proving the same | 2:05pm – 2:10pm
3. What happens when separate property is comingled during the marriage or when separate property creates income during the marriage | 2:10pm – 2:20pm
4. What methods are used in dividing assets once a determination

a. Deemed “equitable” is reached | 2:20pm – 2:30pm

5. Determine how to identify assets and debts in a marriage using the Sworn Financial Statement as a guide | 2:30pm – 2:40pm
6. Tracing Separation property and the law regarding what a litigant need to do in order to prove an asset is separate property | 2:40pm – 2:45pm
7. Pitfalls in C.R.S. 14-10-113 including commingling of assets, “gifts to the marriage” and similar issues that arise in divorces | 2:45pm – 2:50pm

Break | 2:50pm – 3:00pm

Session V- Unbundled Legal Service | 3:00pm – 3:50pm
1. Engagement letter and retaining clients | 3:00pm – 3:15pm
2. How to handle court with a limited entry of appearance | 3:15pm- 3:30pm
3. Ghost writing | 3:30pm – 3:40pm
4. Ethical Issues & protections | 3:40pm – 3:50pm

Break | 3:50pm – 4:00pm

Session VI- Premarital Agreements | 4:00pm – 4:50pm
1. General history of the marital agreements in CO | 4:00pm – 4:25pm

a. Prior to 1986
b. 1986-June 30, 2014 under the CMAA

2. Current law under the UPMAA (effective 7.1.2014) and case law | 4:25pm – 4:50pm

a. Scope

i. Maintenance
ii. Property
iii. Debts
iv. Attorneys’ Fees
v. Child related issues
vi. Domestic Violence
vii. All issues addressed

b. Conscionability

i. Standard

1. Maintenance
2. Attorneys’’ fees

c. Effective Date
d. Financial Disclosure

i. Fair and Reasonable
ii. Property
iii. Fiduciary Duty

e. Grounds to challenge

i. Voluntariness/Duress
ii. Disclosure
iii. Independent legal counsel
iv. Lack of access
v. Waiver
vi. Court approval

f. Unenforceable provisions
g. Choice of Law
h. Amendments
i. Equitable Defenses
j. Termination