Colorado Real Estate Attorney and Family Law Blog. (Vol 1.21) December 1, 2013
By Craig Franklin Chambers Esq. 7851 S. Elati Street #204, Littleton, CO 80120
The Littleton Lawyer.
As a Colorado lawyer specializing in family law and real estate law in Denver, Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Arapahoe and Jefferson County, I receive calls from potential clients who are trying to complete legal matters--such as wills, divorces, residential real estate purchase contracts, For Sale By Owner (FSBO) transactions, and leases on their own.
They purchase real estate or divorce forms from the internet, fill them out, and expect the matter to be resolved.
Here are some suggestions if you go this route. First, make sure you get the correct forms. You would be amazed at how many leases or other templates I see from other states.
While some acts, known as Uniform Acts, are adopted in many states, standardizing the type of law, each state has a public policy and history that affects the drafting, interpretation, and enforcement of laws whether statues or case law. Different states have different laws and Colorado real estate transactions are no exception.
For example, a residential real estate transaction in an East Coast state require an attorney for closing. Colorado is a title insurance state, which means that many of the title issues an attorney handles in an "attorney state" are handled by the title insurance company. These disparities are also apparent in landlord and tenant disputes, foreclosure proceedings, wills and estates, and domestic and family law cases.
Second, go to the source for the forms. Many forms are available on the internet and often the consumer is charged a fee. Colorado real estate sales contract forms as created and approved by the Colorado Division of Real Estate are available for free on the CREC website. Colorado divorce forms--and often instructions for filing out the form--- are available for free on the Colorado Supreme Court website.
Third, in completing the form, make sure the language or the agreement is unequivocably clear. You may need a lawyer to explain the forms or agreement. If there is a dispute later on, you are stuck with the forms you filled out or the agreement you entered. It is not a defense later on that you did not have counsel, and courts are disinclined to re-litigate matters that have already been decided. It is far easier to submit the proper document in the first place than to go back into court later and explain why the document or agreement wasn't correctly completed.
If the case goes to trial, even if you are unrepresented, you are responsible to know the court procedures and rules. You can have good facts and lose; you can have bad facts, and win. Some judges are lenient with pro se litigants with regards to the rules and procedures; others are not. In the case of a proceeding, find a lawyer in Colorado who knows the nuances of the practical application of the type law in Colorado. You would be amazed at how many clients of mine have relocated to other states and call me with questions about real estate law, in California, for example.
Lastly, make sure you get the appropriate form for the state where the dispute arises; and, if you have any doubt about the transaction, retain an attorney familiar with the type of law and the court to at least review the document before you agree to it.