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.

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.

Different types of contempt


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.

How long will my Divorce take?

How Long Will My Colorado Divorce Take?

Divorce and Family Law Blog (Vol I.1) 

by Craig Franklin Chambers, Esq. The Littleton Lawyer.

July 8, 2016

As a family law and and divorce lawyer specializing in  divorce law, family law, and real estate law in Littleton, Lakewood, Englewood, Denver, Highlands Ranch, and the surrounding areas, this question often arises:  How long will my divorce take?

The answer: it depends. Under Colorado law, there is a mandatory ninety-one day waiting period from the time the Petition for Dissolution is filed and served to the day the Judge is legally authorized to sign the final divorce decree. The judge will usually sign the paperwork within a few days after the ninety-day period, depending on his docket. He often “tickles” dates into his calendar to help him keep track of these deadlines, but the burden is on the parties to prosecute the divorce or the case can be dismissed.

In order for the judge to sign the decree after the ninety-one days, the divorce has to be non-contested. The parties need to agree on all the terms of the divorce. All financial disclosures need to have been exchanged, and a Separation Agreement, an Affidavit of Non-appearance and Decree for the court’s signature need to be submitted to the court.

The Decree is a standard form that recites the necessary facts to meet the jurisdictional requirements  for the divorce. It is the document that actually divorces the parties. The Affidavit of Non-Appearance is  a standard form signed under oath by each party that each has received full financial disclosure and that each understands and is satisfied with the terms of the agreement. Even if the divorce is non-contested, if minor children are involved, the Court may hold a brief “Non-Contested Permanent Orders Hearing” to make sure the parties are truly in agreement and that the terms are fair.

The term “Separation Agreement” is  confusing. Although the term “separation” does not necessarily denote finality, the Separation Agreement is permanent as to financial matters. The term “Permanent Orders” refers to a final order adjudicated by the court after a hearing.The Separation Agreement refers to an agreement or agreements made by the parties without going to court.

The Separation Agreement is final, and financial issues such as spousal support and alimony, division of property, assets, and debts can only be modified in rare circumstances. Children’s issues of parenting time and child support can be more easily modified as the needs of the children evolve.

The Separation Agreement is attached to  the Decree and becomes an order of the court. It  terms are enforceable only by a contempt proceeding. Because it is a final adjudication of the division of the financial aspects of the marriage, it is crucial that each party fully agrees to and understands the terms of the Separation Agreement.

As for the timing of the divorce, after the case is filed, the court will hold an initial status conference and issue a case management order setting forth the court’s requirements for setting a court date.

Usually the case management order  requires full financial disclosures, completion of discovery, and a good faith  attempt at mediation before scheduling a Permanent Orders Hearing. In the interim, temporary issues such as who resides in the marital home, how the bills are handled, and where do the children reside, can be resolved by agreement or by a brief two-hour Temporary Orders Hearing. 

The time period for a contested divorce depends on how complicated the case is and how willing or unwilling the parties–and their lawyers are– to either prepare for or resolve the outstanding issues. Many of these issues are complicated by personal resentment and feelings of betrayal and guilt for the collapse of the marriage. The more issues left unresolved, the longer the hearing is required, and the fewer the dates that are available with the court’s docket.

In a contested divorce, from the time the case is filed and served to a Permanent Orders hearing, usually takes about a year.

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