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5 Tips on How to Save Attorney Fees in a Divorce

Family Law and Divorce Law Blog

By Craig Franklin Chambers. Esquire

Vol.1.4   October 29, 2016

The Littleton Lawyer

In my role as a family law and divorce attorney in Littleton, Denver, Highlands Ranch, and the surrounding areas, I meet people of all economic backgrounds and capabilities. All of them want to get through the legal process efficiently and  cost-effectively. Here are a 5uick tips to save money on attorneys fees.

  1. Shop around for the attorney. Attorneys fees vary by lawyer and by firm. Some offer discounted or reduced fees based on income and other considerations. Some take payments, others don’t. A good attorney should be able to give you a reasonable estimate, based on the facts and level of conflict of the case. Just as you would interview several other professionals before hiring them, do the same before hiring an attorney.
  2. Hire someone you trust. You need to let the attorney do his job. Even though he works for you, you should not micro-manage him. Each attorney has own style and that style should be compatible with your personality. You should trust and be honest with your attorney. Your communications with him are confidential and privileged under the attorney-client privilege. He needs to know the facts to properly strategize your case.
  3. Don’t treat your attorney as a marriage counselor, therapist, priest, or a friend. An attorney charges for his time and his expertise. Not only for his higher education, but for his experience in front of the very same judges and magistrates who will hear your case. Don’t run up phone calls on unrelated or irrelevant matters.
  4. Help the attorney. Help the attorney by being responsive and precise and by creating time-lines and organizing your documents. The case is being presented first in a well-organized manner to other side with the hopes the evidence will convince the other side to settle, and ultimately, to the judge. It is your case, after all, and the simpler you can make the case, the simpler and more compelling the story, the easier and less expensive the case will become.
  5. Be reasonable in your demands and expectations. Understand that getting thorough the divorce with minimum stress is also important, especially in a divorce where children are involved. If there are children involved, they are the first priority. You have deal with your Ex the rest of your life, and you may want to be invited to your daughter’s graduation or wedding or have a relationship with your grandchildren.

Don’t argue over small amounts of money. Don’t make demands that are based on spite. Don’t pursue claims you are unlikely to win. Most importantly, don’t bully the other side and make them look like a victim.

The judge doesn’t want to hear this case anymore than you do, and the judges are generally unmoved by emotional outbursts, hyperbole, or exaggerations.

The party who is reasonable and rationale usually gains the most credibility with the judge.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN INSPECTION AND AN APPRAISAL

Real Estate Law Blog

By Craig Franklin Chambers. Esquire

Vol.1.77  September 22, 2016

The Littleton Lawyer

As a Colorado attorney focusing on residential real estate transactions, real estate and real property law in Littleton, Lakewood, Denver, Highlands Ranch, and Jefferson, Arapahoe, and Douglas  County,  I  often encounter problems with both inspections and appraisals . Many home-buyers are confused as to the difference between the two.

The standard Colorado Real Estate Commission-approved contract provides for the buyer to perform an inspection of the property.  A typical buyer usually performs several inspections, including, without limitation, to a home inspection by a professional home inspector, a radon test, and sewer scope to check the viability of the sewer line. Inspections are usually performed early on in the transaction.

There are no home inspector licenses in Colorado, and home inspectors are not regulated. A home inspector is usually a person with experience in construction who gives you a critical  view of the physical  characteristics  of the home.

Under the terms of the standard contract, the sale is contingent on your subjective satisfaction of the home’s condition; you can terminate the contract based on unsatisfactory conditions, use the condition of the home to negotiate repairs from the Seller or you can waive the inspection requirement,  There are no licensing requirements for home inspectors and what he produces in terms of an inspection report is a checklist indicating the minor and major problems with the home.

The standard Colorado Real Estate contract also has a contingency for the appraisal of the home. The appraisal is usually performed after the home inspection, closer to the closing date. The appraiser is licensed by the Colorado Real Estate Commission, and the appraisal report he provides is performed in accordance with standardized professional guidelines. The appraisal is required by the lender to assure the lender that the lender’s interest is secure in loaning on the home.

Although an appraiser can make conditions on the appraisal regarding the condition of the home as part of the loan process, and although the appraiser views the property, the appraisal is not an in-depth assessment of the condition of the home. The appraiser is only concerned with the overall condition and the market value of the home as based on comparables in the area sold in the past 6 months.

In sum, the inspection is paid for by the buyer to determine if the home’s physical condition is acceptable to the buyer. The appraisal is ordered by the lender to ascertain the value of the home so the lender can give the buyer the loan.

5 Things that Can Change Your Child Support Obligation in a Colorado Divorce

Family Law and Divorce Law Blog

By Craig Franklin Chambers. Esquire

Vol.1.3   September 3, 2016

The Littleton Lawyer

As a family law and divorce attorney practicing in all metro area jurisdictions, including Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Denver, Lakewood, and Arapahoe, Douglas and Jefferson County , I often deal with the issues of child support.

In Colorado, a child support obligation lasts until the child turns 19 or is emancipated. That means that in a typical divorce, child support should be reviewed periodically to insure that the obligation is in accordance with the statutory guidelines.

Child support obligations are based on the parties’ income and the number of overnights each parent has with the child.  Pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-115, a child support order can be changed if there is a 10% change in child support obligation.

Here are five things that can happen that could affect child support.

First, if your income and that of your X changes, either by way of a raise, or a job change, and the child support obligation changes by 10% or more, the child support obligation can be adjusted. Of course, this has to be a substantial and continuing change.  For this reason, it is important to get financial information such as tax returns from your X every year or so you can determine if a 10% change has occurred.

Second, if the work-related daycare costs change, that can result in a 10% change. That cost also needs to be verified at least once a year. Another change, the extraordinary medical or educational costs for the child.

Fourth, if the parties agree on a change in parenting time, that change could affect the child support obligation. And lastly, the legislature periodically adjusts the child support obligation charts for inflation.

The child support calculation charts are available for free on the Colorado Supreme Court website. My  tip is to keep current on these factors and periodically calculate the child support to determine if the 10% change has occurred.

5 PROBLEMS WITH FIX N FLIPS

Denver Real Estate Law Blog. (Vol 1.76)  August 18, 2016

By Craig Franklin Chambers Esq. 7851 S. Elati Street #101, Littleton,  CO 80120

The Littleton Lawyer.  

As a Colorado real estate  lawyer who focuses  in civil ligation, real estate law and divorce and family law in Denver, Littleton,  Centennial, Englewood, Lakewood, Highlands Ranch, and Unincorporated South Jeffco, I often help people with legal problems related to “fix n flips.”

A “fix n flip” or a “fixer-upper” is when an investor buys a home at a discount with hopes of renovating the home and selling the home quickly at a profit.

No doubt some people are good at fix n’ flips. My wife watches shows on tv which make buying and flipping a home look profitable and easy. My own observations as a real estate broker, real estate investor, and real estate lawyer are not quite as positive. Here are a few tips based on my 36 years of experience as a broker and 19 years experience as a lawyer.

  1. Put the Property in an LLC.  As with any investment, you do not want to risk your own home or personal funds. Create an LLC or similar corporate entity for the fix n flip project. This will not necessarily protect you from all kinds of personal liability,  but it does create one layer of protection for your personal assets. Anyone suing you for issues with the property will be suing the corporate entity and not you personally. Make sure and keep accurate records of your costs and do not use personal accounts for any cost related to the project.
  2.  Chose your partners wisely. If you enter into a partnership or a Limited Liability Company  as owners of real property, it is like entering a marriage. If you need a partner,  make sure that the partner you choose is financially stable and has financial needs similar to yours.  Avoid deals where one partner offers labor or services instead of money as his contribution to the transaction.  These will types of business relationships  are usually doomed from the start.
  3. Choose a property in close proximity to your home or office. You will be making many many trips to the fix ‘n flip property from purchase, through the fix-up process,  to closing and if it is an inconvenient location, these trips will grow old fast. This type of investment is rarely passive, and decisions will need to be made as you go through the process. Make sure you are buying the property at a good price, verifying the value with recent sold comparables of similar properties of the same floor-plan in the same area.
  4. Assume the fix up will cost more than anticipated. The best fix and flips only require minor cosmetic repairs, but frequently the contractors are unreliable or their bids are inaccurate. Choose reliable and reputable contractors. Ask for lien waivers from the general contractor as the work is completed. Even with the best contractors, unforeseen problems often arise, and the renovation work will take longer and cost more than anticipated.
  5. Assume the carrying costs, and time on the market will be higher and longer and that the ultimate net sales price will be lower. Realtors and investors tend to be overly optimistic about the ultimate resale price in deals like this, the market is often inconsistent, and buyers often require concessions such as closing costs or a reduction in purchase price.

All of these factors will result in a lower net profit after the close of the renovated property. Also the time for the renovated property to be on the market is likely to be longer than anticipated, because of the market and  because buyers need time to qualify.

If after all of these considerations, the transaction is still worth pursing financially, go for it.

As a last recommendation,  it is a mistake to be too greedy. Once the home is renovated  and ready for resale, the sooner you get out of the property the better, and pricing the home too high only results in higher carrying costs and less profit.

Different types of contempt

TWO TYPES OF CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS IN A COLORADO DIVORCE

Littleton Family Law Blog

August 18, 2016 Vol. 1.2 

by Craig Franklin Chambers, Esq.

The Littleton Lawyer

As a Littleton lawyer focusing on family and divorce law in Littleton, Lakewood, Centennial,  South Suburban, Denver, Highlands Ranch, Roxborough Park, and Unincorporated South Jefferson County, one of the biggest problems a person faces in a divorce is  making sure the other party follows the court’s orders.

In a domestic case, there are often orders regarding child support, spousal maintenance, sale of the marital home and other financial matters. If the party fails to pay the amounts the court order, you need to go back to court to get the court’s orders enforced. I mean, what’s the point of a court order if no one follows it?

Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure 107 allows for a party to file for a contempt citation to ensure the court’s orders are followed. There are two types of contempt under the rule: punitive and remedial.

A punitive contempt –which is rare–is a quasi criminal sanction for offending the “authority or dignity” of the court. It usually applies if you disrespect the court. This is interpreted as repeatedly failing to follow the court’s directives or totally disregarding a court’s order. A punitive contempt is quasi-criminal proceeding that could result in up to 180 days in jail as punishment.

The problems with a punitive contempt are two-fold: first, the standard of proof is that you must prove the contempt by beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the higher and more difficult burden to prove. This is because a punitive contempt is a quasi-criminal proceeding.  Second, if what you are seeking is for the order  to be followed, the punitive contempt does not necessarily order that the person comply with the order. Instead, a punitive contempt  punishes the ex for offending the dignity of the court.

Usually, to enforce an order, say for example, for unpaid child support,  a person requests remedial sanction under the civil contempt section of the rule. A remedial sanction is one which the offending can remedy –or purge the contempt– by simply following the order.

The complaining party in a civil contempt must show that the offending party was aware of the court’s order, has the present ability to follow the order, and intentionally failed to comply with  the order. The judge can order the offending party to jail until he “purges” the contempt. That means, the offending party will go to jail until he pays some of the amount of money he owes as determined by the judge.

It’s not contempt if the party cannot prove the offending party has the present ability to pay. If in the child support example, you fall behind on your child support because you are ill or because you lose your job, the contempt proceeding will likely fail.

Still, the judges have a saying: “If your choice is between paying child support or sleeping under a bridge, pick a warm bridge.”

Judges expect their orders to be followed, and you take the risk of crossing the judge, paying fines, the other side’s attorneys fees, and going to jail for up to 180 days , if you do not fully comply with the court’s order.

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