Divorced with Kids: Tips for Back to School

Resolve to make each school year better than the last.

Resolve to make each school year better than the last.

It is that time of year again: teachers are decorating their classrooms, parents are shopping for school supplies, and students are enjoying the last few days of summer vacation.  The new school year is about to start.  What are you going to do to make this a great year?

Back-to-school season is even more stressful when your child shares two homes.  Your child’s education is tough enough already–meeting teachers, tracking homework, signing and filling out permission forms, keeping track of extracurricular activities–without having to deal with the extra chores involved in split custody.  Here are a few tips to get your child’s school year off to a good start–

1.  Keep a positive attitude. Your child may be reluctant for the summer to end and for the back-and-forth of regular visitation to resume.  When you keep a positive attitude, it makes it easier for your child to make the adjustment.  Your child will feed off of your emotions.  Don’t let them sense that you are uneasy about your ex-spouse’s visits.  Instead, help your child to look forward to spending time with their other parent.

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Facebook, Infidelity, and Court

An interesting article appeared in SmartMoney today, entitled “Does Facebook Wreck Marriages? This short article examines whether social media–and Facebook in particular–put marriages at risk of affairs.

Author Quentin Fottrell identifies three dangers. First, users who would otherwise remain faithful to their spouses can easily become tempted by the people they interact with online. “The social network is different from most social networks or dating sites in that it both re-connects old flames and allows people to “friend” someone they may only met once in passing.”

Second, even if an affair was not caused by social media, Facebook may lull users into a false sense of security, where they feel safe to post information that might tip off a significant other. “It could be something as innocuous as a check-in at a restaurant, he says, or a photograph posted online.”

Finally, when couples find themselves in divorce court–whether there was an affair or not–information from social media can and will be used as evidence to determine child support, alimony, and even custody. The article quotes attorney Randy Kessler, the current chairman of the family law section of the American Bar Association, that “any pattern of behavior that’s recorded on Facebook relating to parenting skills, excessive partying or even disparaging remarks about a spouse that violates a court order could be admissible in court.”

I encourage you to read the entire article, and to exercise extreme caution in your social media activities.

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.

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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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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Advice for Parents in the Military

Thank you for your service!

Active military duty is hard on families.  Too often, marriages are a casualty of war.  When our servicemen are deployed for long periods of time, it is not uncommon for husbands and wives to grow apart.  Even when marriages survive, relationships with children can suffer.

If you and your spouse are having marital difficulties, and you anticipate separation or divorce, don’t forget the children.  Your efforts to maintain contact with your child during duty and deployment will directly affect the amount of parenting time you are granted when the divorce is final.  It could even determine whether the other parent is permitted to move out of state with your child.  Here are a few suggestions:

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Keep a Visitation Journal or Calendar!

22888gfb1yh0sed1Honore: We met at nine
Mamita: We met at eight
Honore: I was on tim
e
Mamita: No, you were late
Honore: Ah, yes, I remember it well. We dined with friends
Mamita: We dined alone
Honore: A tenor sang
Mamita: A baritone
Honore: Ah, yes, I remember it well!

(“I Remember It Well,” from the musical Gigi, 1958)

“He said, she said.”  That’s what we call a dispute between two parties when the only evidence is one parties’ word against the other.  When there are two sides of a story, the judge must determine which party to believe: Which party is more credible?  Is there any other evidence which will corroborate a party’s story? Continue reading

About Kirk Garner

Kirk Garner was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1967.  He was raised in and around Lubbock, Texas, and graduated from Shallowater High School in 1985.  Kirk graduated from Abilene Christian University in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.  The week after graduation, he married his wife of now more than 25 years.  They have three daughters.

Kirk graduated from Baylor University School of Law in 1995.  During law school, he served on the Baylor Law Review, and was a member of the international legal fraternity Phi Delta Phi and the Harvey M. Richey Moot Court Society.

Upon graduation, Kirk Garner was admitted to the Texas Bar, and practiced law in Winnsboro, Texas, for fifteen years.  He had a general small-town practice, including family law, civil litigation, probate, and criminal defense.

In 2010, Kirk obtained his license to practice law in Colorado.  He and his family pulled up stakes and moved to Colorado Springs, where they had always wanted to live.

Kirk Garner opened his Colorado Springs law office in 2010. The Colorado Springs office is devoted to all aspects of family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, adoption, and grandparents’ rights.

In 2011, Kirk Garner added a second office in Woodland Park to better serve his clients in Teller County.  The Woodland Park practice is more of a general-civil, small town law firm. In addition to family law and dissolution of marriage, the office handles civil litigation, probate, and other matters. Have a case in Teller County? Call Kirk Garner today to see if he can help.