Family Law Process

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What type of family law case do you have?*
Divorce with kidsDivorce without kidsChild custody DisputePost-Decree DisputeProtection OrderOther
Case Description*

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Duty of Disclosure

There is an affirmative duty of disclosure in all Colorado divorces under C.R.C.P. 16.2. This means that both parties are obligated to disclose all relevant information to each other even if the information is not specifically requested by the other party. This duty applies both to financial information and information that might be relevant to a child-related case. Below is a list of documents required for disclosure in an Aspen divorce or Vail child-custody dispute:

  1. Sworn Financial Statement (“SFS”) and, if applicable, Supplemental Schedule – a link to the Colorado Supreme Court approved form for a SFS is here. The Supplemental Schedule can be found here.
  2. Income Tax Returns
  3. Personal Financial Statements
  4. Business Financial Statements
  5. Real Estate Documents
  6. Credit Card Statements and Personal Debt Documents
  7. Investments
  8. Employment Benefits
  9. Retirement Plans/Accounts
  10. Bank Statements
  11. Pay Stubs and Income Documentation
  12. Child Care Expenses
  13. Insurance Policies
  14. Extraordinary Children’s Expenses

For things like tax returns and financial statements, people are required to produce the last 3 years. The last month’s statement must be disclosed for credit card, investment and bank accounts. The most recent pay stub is required for salaried employees. For self-employed individuals, a separate statement of net income for the last three months is necessary along with a summary of gross income and necessary business expenses. We recommend clients start gathering financial materials as soon as possible to allow adequate time for me to organize and review them.

If you do not have a particular type of document contemplated in Form 35.1 — for example, a business financial statement — that is fine. You need only disclose documents in your possession or control. However, you should view the list as a minimum for an Aspen or Vail divorce.

If there are documents regarding your finances that would be helpful to understand your financial circumstances, those should be produced whether listed or not and regardless of whether requested. We will discuss whether it strategically makes sense to disclose those additional documents depending on your case. As a general rule, it is far better to disclose more than required or requested. Lack of disclosure, delayed disclosure, or partial disclosure is not only contrary to the rules but it can create suspicion which will result in the cost of the case growing exponentially. Either party may be able to re-open a case for as long as five years after it is completed if it is determined that lack of disclosure had a material impact on the outcome.


Sworn Financial Statement & Financial Analysis

Your SFS is a very important document. The general idea is to give a snapshot of your current assets and debts, as well as your income and expenses. If you do not know much about your assets/debts, or you do not have any income, it is okay.

If you will be seeking maintenance or support, a full accounting of your expenses will ultimately be vital in determining that issue. 

Similarly, if it is likely that you will be paying maintenance or support it is essential to accurately disclose and explain your income.

We use a premium software program to analyze the financial aspects of a case. The program, Family Law Software, allows my clients to upload their financial information via the web. Clients can also download a copy of the program that has limited features, but allows for revising and editing their financial info. We are able to produce a draft Sworn Financial Statement at the click of a button. We will review your draft, schedule a meeting, answer any questions and strategically advise you on certain aspects of your SFS. We can also run various models to give you an overview of possible maintenance, child support or property division scenarios.

Your SFS and mandatory disclosures need to be complete no later than 42 days after service of a petition or the filing date of a post-decree motion involving financial issues. Therefore, you must upload as much data as possible to Family Law Software substantially before that deadline if we are to have adequate time to complete an accurate SFS.


Mandatory Initial Status Conference

An initial status conference will be scheduled around the same time that your SFS and mandatory disclosures are due. For Vail divorces and cases in Eagle County, you must attend this conference in person. Currently attendance by the parties to an Aspen divorce or child-custody dispute in Pitkin and Garfield is not required and the attorneys can conduct the conference by telephone. The purpose of the conference, which is usually with the Family Court Facilitator, is to discuss issues that may arise during the course of the proceedings. The actual conduct of the conference varies so much from each jurisdiction that we will advise you about what is likely to occur depending on where the conference will be held.


Temporary Orders

There may be issues – parenting time, child support or maintenance, for example – that require prompt attention during the pendency of your case. The judge has authority to make temporary orders on particular issues until either (a) the parties reach a final agreement or (b) the case is fully presented to the court at trial. Upon a filed motion, the judge will set a short hearing to consider the arguments of each party. With the general exception of the rare circumstance when the safety of children is allegedly jeopardized, you can expect the hearing on temporary orders to be set 2-3 months out.


Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”)

Depending on the jurisdiction, you may be required to engage in ADR to resolve your dispute before a temporary orders hearing. Parties may voluntarily engage in ADR as well. The most common form of ADR in Family Law cases is mediation. You should expect a one- to two-day meeting with a neutral mediator. Ryan, Amy or Georgina will attend any mediation with you unless we both agree that you’re fine on your own. The opposing party will also be at the mediation, but we typically request that they be in a separate room to reduce the inevitable stress and friction. The mediator will seek areas of potential compromise, and everything discussed at mediation is confidential. Mediation is non-binding; you will not be forced to agree to anything. We will strategically advise you throughout the process, including which mediators are best for your case and analysis of the settlement terms.


Expert Witnesses

It may be necessary to retain an expert to assist with your case. An accountant, real estate appraiser or a doctor may be helpful in resolving disputes over property valuation or parenting time. Due to the increased cost involved with bringing in an expert, we will recommend hiring someone only if we deem it in your best interest. 

If parenting time or decision-making authority is disputed, the court may appoint a Child and Family Investigator (“CFI”) to make recommendations based on inquiry into the circumstances of the dispute. A CFI is a neutral party who typically observes each party during their parenting time and, if appropriate, interviews the child or children. The CFI may also consult with friends and family in making recommendations for the best interests of the child or children. The cost of a CFI is capped at $2,750 unless there are extraordinary circumstances. Courts routinely require parties to split the cost of a CFI $1,375 each. The CFI will issue a written report with recommendations on allocation of parental responsibilities. The whole process takes approximately 3 months.

Another option for a parenting dispute is a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator (“PRE”). They are similar to a CFI, but typically are professionals that are better educated and trained to investigate high-conflict or complex cases. They are more expensive than CFIs. Costs range from $7,500 to $20,000.


Trial and Timing of Trial

If you do settle all issues in your case, it will be set for a trial. In Family Law, a trial is called a Final Orders or Permanent Orders hearing. The trial will be in front of the assigned judge for your case; there are no jury trials in Family Law. Final Orders can be on all or just a few disputed issues in the case. For example, if you reach an agreement on the disposition of marital property, we may still go to Final Orders on the amount of child support or some other issue. Many people are surprised at how long it usually takes to get a trial date. Depending on how many days are needed for Final Orders, you should expect a setting no earlier than 6 months from when we request a date. We generally advise clients to expect a divorce to take a year. A dispute on maintenance or child support will likely take less time. The timing of each case will vary depending on the issues, parties, judge, and, if pertinent, opposing attorney involved.