You Don’t Have to Leave Teller County to Find a Lawyer

You don’t have to leave Teller County to find a family law attorney.

You don’t have to leave Teller County to find a good attorney: the Law Office of Kirk Garner has an office right here in Woodland Park!

A number of attorneys have an office in Woodland Park, but only a few handle family law cases and general civil litigation. I have over fifteen years experience helping small-town, rural folks with their legal problems. From divorce and child custody cases to small claims court to probate and wills, I have the experience and know-how to handle your case. So whether you live in Cripple Creek, Victor, Florissant, Divide, Crystola, or Woodland Park, call me today to schedule an appointment. You won’t regret it.

Teller County Courthouse

Teller County Courthouse in Cripple Creek

Teller County Courthouse in Cripple Creek

This is the Teller County Courthouse, in Cripple Creek, Colorado.

I love old, historic courthouses. Give me a courtroom in an old courthouse any day. Tall ceilings, wood floors, big windows and creaky doors. I love it! If only the walls could speak, just think of the stories they could tell: about disputes resolved, sentences handed down, and justice served throughout the years.

120425.County-Court-300x169The old courthouses were built when it was important to have natural lighting. It was a practical design, due to the poor illumination provided by early electric lights or gas lights. Not so with most modern-day courtrooms. Most have removed all windows, so as not to distract jurors, witnesses, or the lawyers. Most newer courtrooms are lit with florescent bulbs. If you didn’t look at the clock on the wall, you would have no idea what time it is. 9:01 a.m. looks just the same as 4:45 p.m. I tell you it is depressing! The body needs light. Your internal clock needs the light to be able to adjust its circadian rhythms throughout the day. The absence of natural light leads to depression and, I think, may make judges and lawyers irritable and impatient. Thank goodness for the the good old courthouses like we have in Teller County.

Lighting may be abundant, but oxygen is not. The Teller County seat is 9,500 feet above sea level; nearly two miles above the ocean! The air is thin and dry, and we love it! There are chairs in the courthouse hallways so the lawyers from out-of-town can sit and catch their breath.

If you need a lawyer in Teller County, call an attorney with an office in Teller County: call Kirk Garner today.

Calculating Child Support

How much child support will I have to pay? How much child support will my ex-spouse have to pay? These are common questions that need to be answered so that you can prepare for the future after divorce or separation. The calculation of child support is complicated. The Colorado State Judicial Branch has provided lawyers and parents with a worksheet to help calculate support (which is linked below), however, every case is different. The application of your circumstances to the child support guidelines must be considered carefully to make sure that all rules and exceptions are applied. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you consult an attorney to make sure that you do not shortchange yourself.

In Colorado, child support is governed by section 14-10-115 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. This long and complicated section contains guidelines for child support based upon the income of the parents and the amount of parenting time exercised by each parent. While the amount of support will vary depending on the circumstances of the parties and children, the code contains a formula to calculate the child support that is presumed to be in the best interest of the children. A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet containing the formula is available from the Colorado State Judicial Branch, and can be found here– Child Support Worksheet. Instructions on how to fill out the worksheet can be found here–Instructions.

There are two major elements to the child support formula:

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Now Serving Teller County!

PPCU-300x160The Law Office of Kirk Garner is pleased to announce that we have opened an office in Woodland Park, to better serve clients in Teller County. The office is located on the second floor of the Pikes Peak Credit Union, 720 W. Midland Avenue, Woodland Park, at the intersection of Highway 67 and West Midland Avenue. We have an absolutely magnificent view of Pikes Peak and Woodland Park. There are only a few attorneys who practice family law from Teller County. If you live in Teller County and need an attorney for dissolution of marriage, child support, spousal maintenance, grandparent rights, or a Department of Human Services matter, call us today.

How Alimony Works in Colorado, Part Two

Calculating temporary alimony can be a contentious process.

Calculating temporary alimony can be a contentious process.

In Part I of my series about alimony in Colorado (which you can read here), I discussed how alimony (officially called “maintenance”) is awarded as part of temporary orders while a divorce is pending.  Specifically, that post dealt with the formula that is presumptively applied when the parties earn a combined annual income of $75,000 or less.  In this post, I will continue with the discussion of temporary maintenance (that is, maintenance awarded before the divorce is final) for situations in which the spouses together earn more than $75,000 per year.

When the husband and wife’s combined annual income is greater than $75,000 per year, there is no presumptive formula or guideline for the court to apply.  As such, the amount to be awarded is determined on a case-by-case basis.  Each case is different, and different judges will calculate temporary alimony differently.

Step 1.  Is a spouse eligible for temporary maintenance?

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Testifying in Court

The judge weighs the witness's credibility.

The judge weighs the witness’s credibility.

It can be a scary and intimidating experience to testify in court. Most people don’t have to testify in court very often. It is okay to be nervous. Most people are nervous when they testify.

To some extent, testifying in court is uncomfortable because it is unnatural: Witnesses can’t just come into the courtroom, talk directly to the judge or jury, and say whatever they want. Rather, they have to answer questions posed by a lawyer, while the judge and jury listen to the exchange.

If you are being called as a witness it is either because you are a party in the case or one of the attorneys believes you have important information that the judge or jury needs to consider in making a decision. Whenever I am preparing a witness to testify, I give them the following instructions:

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Uncontested Divorce vs. Contested Divorce

It is more likely for your divorce to be uncontested when you know your rights.

It is more likely for your divorce to be uncontested when you know your rights.

When a prospective client calls to discuss a divorce, one of the first questions I ask is whether the case is contested or uncontested.  This is especially true when people want to know how much I charge for divorce.  Uncontested divorces are much cheaper because there are no issues to be decided by a judge or mediator.  Most people hope their divorce will be uncontested, but in reality there are very few truly uncontested divorces.

The Uncontested Divorce. An uncontested divorce is one in which both spouses want the divorce.  They have discussed the issues: how the property and debts will be divided, whether maintenance will be paid and how much, where the children will live, how much child support will be paid, how much parenting time the non-custodial parent will have with the children.  Whatever the issues the soon-to-be ex-spouses face, they have discussed them and have reached an agreement.  It is very helpful for the agreement to be in writing, to prevent miscommunication and misunderstanding.  Uncontested divorces are rare because if the spouses could communicate and reach consensus, the chances are they wouldn’t be getting a divorce.

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How Alimony Works in Colorado, Part 1.

Temporary spousal maintenance is designed to equalize the finances until the divorce is final.

Temporary spousal maintenance is designed to equalize the finances until the divorce is final.

Alimony is a payment of money from one spouse to another for the purpose of financial support or equalization of incomes. In Colorado, alimony is technically called “spousal maintenance.” There are two kinds of spousal maintenance: temporary and permanent. Temporary maintenance is the payment of money from one spouse to the other before the marriage has been dissolved (i.e., before the divorce is final). Permanent maintenance–what most people think of when they hear the term “alimony”–is the payment of money from one former spouse to the other after divorce.

In this article, I will discuss temporary maintenance when the spouses earn a combined annual income of $75,000 or less. In future articles, I will discuss 1) temporary maintenance when combined annual income exceeds $75,000; 2) permanent maintenance; and 3) other aspect of alimony, including modification, termination, and tax treatment.

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Develop a Divorce Plan to Keep the Goal in Mind

Divorce is a difficult journey. Have a plan for life after divorce.

Divorce is a difficult journey. Have a plan for life after divorce.

Divorce is a difficult journey–don’t let anyone tell you differently.  It doesn’t matter whether the divorce is “uncontested” or “simple;”  it doesn’t matter how good your lawyer is; it doesn’t matter how free from blame from the breakup of the marriage you perceive yourself to be–divorce is always going to be difficult.  Whether you were the spouse who sought the divorce or not.

Sometimes along the journey of divorce, we get caught up in various battles of the day and we lose focus on the ultimate goal. Sometimes it seems the most important thing is the process of ending the marriage:  filing for divorce, gathering documents, mediation, preparing for hearings and trial, and getting it over with!  At other times, the most important thing is getting out of the painful relationship and away from your spouse as quickly as possible.  Others may seek revenge by using the system to punish their spouse for hurtful or abusive behaviors.  The most important thing to focus on, however, is the ultimate goal, the finish line:  life after divorce.

Whether you wanted the divorce or not, whether you feel you have been wronged by your spouse or not, no matter how complex the process may seem, your main focus needs to be your life after divorce.

1.  Make a plan.  Early on in the divorce process–even before separation, if possible–you need to develop a plan of how you are going to live after divorce.  Visualize yourself as single again.

Where will you live? Can you afford to live in the same home you share with your spouse?  If you need to move, what kind of home do you need?  A house?  An apartment?  Will you need to rent for a while or will you be able to buy a home right away?

How will you support yourself financially?  If you are not employed, what kind of job will you seek?  How much income will you need?  Will your spouse be required to pay you child support or alimony to offset your expenses, or will you be required to pay your spouse?  Will your current income, plus or minus child support or alimony, be enough to support you in the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed?

If you have children, how will they been cared for?  Do you foresee the children living with you most of the time, living with the other parent, or do you anticipate sharing custody and parenting time?  If you work, how will the children get to and from school?  Will your work allow you time off to take the children to the doctor?  Will the children need a babysitter?  Are there any family members or friends nearby who would be willing and able to watch the children?  Keep in mind that being a single parenting is usually more challenging than being a married parent.

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How Property Division in Divorce Works

prop-divWhen parties get divorced, all property acquired during the marriage must be divided between them.  Property division is one of the most important issues in a marriage dissolution. There are all types of property that have to be distributed, including real estate, automobiles, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, employment benefits, furniture, recreational vehicles, and personal effects.

Property division is a three step process:

1.  Setting Aside Separate Property.  The first thing that the parties or the court must do is to set aside each parties’ separate property.  Generally speaking, separate property consists of all property owned by a person before they are married, together with property they received during the marriage by gift or inheritance.  Any property exchanged for separate property is also separate property, provided that the exchange can be traced.  Any property received after a decree of separation is separate property.  The characterization of property as separate or marital is very important because the court cannot award one spouses’ separate property to the other spouse.  Some exceptions apply, so if you have any questions, you should consult with an attorney.

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