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Golden Colorado Family Attorneys

Read About Family Law

Family law covers a wide range of legal issues, from divorce to dependency and neglect hearings. Regardless of the type of family law case you have, it is important to hire a lawyer who you trust to help you through these emotional and challenging cases. At Miller Leonard, PC we fight to make sure that you are protected and that your voice gets heard. If you have a family law case in the Denver metropolitan area, we will walk with you, fight for you, and support you.

Miller Leonard, PC handles family law in a variety of matters:

  • Divorce and Separation
  • If there is a way to save your marriage, our lawyers will work to help you find it. But if divorce is unavoidable, we will protect your interests throughout the process.

    If divorce is inevitable, we will guide you through all of the legal issues such as:

    • Marital property division: Colorado is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that property acquired during the marriage will be divided in an equitable manner. However, equitable does not necessarily mean equal.
      Marital property division is complex and requires an attorney who understands financial and tax issues, as well as our state’s laws concerning what is marital property and what is separate.
    • Alimony: Alimony is called spousal maintenance in Colorado. It can be awarded in long-term marriages when one spouse has a financial need and the other has the ability to provide support. However, the amount of alimony
      and how long it continues can be highly contested issues.
    • Child custody and visitation: If you have children, child custody and visitation issues will need to be resolved before you address the financial issues.

    Colorado Legal Separation and Annulment

    In addition to divorce, we handle cases of legal separation and annulment.

    In a legal separation, the parties remain legally married but separated. The assets and debts are divided just as though the parties were divorced, and the court will enter child custody, visitation and support orders.

    In Colorado, an annulment is accomplished by obtaining a declaration of invalidity. There are very limited and specific circumstances which allow for an annulment. Our lawyers will explain the requirements and the legal steps.

  • Child Custody and Visitation
  • Child custody and visitation are called allocation of parental responsibilities (APR) in Colorado. Parental responsibilities include:

    • Decision-making with regard to your child’s education, medical care and religious upbringing
    • Where your child will live
    • How much parenting time (or visitation) the nonresidential parent will have

    Colorado courts consider the best interests of your children over the personal desires of parents. In the court’s view, absent issues such as abuse or neglect, it is the best interest for children to have a loving relationship with both parents. If there are issues such as neglect or abuse, our lawyers can get involved in a dramatic way, seeking emergency motions and protective orders.

    It’s not unusual for parents to disagree over who should have primary residential custody and how much visitation the other parent should have. Our goal in a child custody case is to help you negotiate a parenting plan that works for your family. However, if a negotiated settlement is not possible, we are prepared to represent your interests and the best interests of your children in court.

    Child Custody and Visitation for Unmarried Parents

    If an unmarried couple has a child or children, but later the couple breaks up, both
    parents may have a right to court-ordered visitation and the non-custodial parent would normally have a right to child support. If the parents do not agree on who the father is, paternity must first be established. If you are in this situation, you should schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys to decide on whether to file a paternity case or a custody case. Which one you choose may have significantly different consequences to you.

    Allocation of Parental Responsibility (ARP) – Formerly Called Custody

    • When used: Child lives with someone permanently.
    • Who may purse ARP: Any parent or anyone else over the age of 18, including someone who is unrelated to the child but with whom the parent lived if the child is not in the physical case of one of the child’s parents.
    • Duration: Permanent
    • Lasts: Until the child emancipates, marries, turns 19 (unless still in high school), joins the military, or the court orders a change (get a court order upon emancipation to end the child support).
    • Limitations: Does not move with child if it changes the parents’ ability to exercise parenting time unless the custodian gets a court order; child will not automatically inherit from custodian unless he/she is the biological parent or such custodian provides for child in a will or trust.
    • Benefits: Primary custodian gets court ordered child support; very high standard to ever change decision making authority; parenting are entitled to parenting time (visitation); automatic injunction form removing kids from Colorado until permanent orders are issued.
    • Legal standard to established: Best interests of the child.
    • Legal standard to change or terminate: Endangerment to the child’s physical or emotional health.
    • Statute: Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act: 14-10-123.
  • Child Support
  • In Colorado, child support is determined by a formula that considers the gross income of both parties, health insurance premiums, day care costs, the child’s primary residence and the number of overnight visits the child has with the
    nonresidential parent. However, formulas are only as good as the numbers going into them. It often takes the help of an experienced attorney to ensure that child support is calculated fairly in your case.

    Resolving Child Support Issues in Colorado

    Determining gross income for someone who is self-employed or receives commissions or bonuses can be complex. In some cases, forensic accounting may be needed to ensure that a spouse doesn’t hide income in order to minimize child support payments. These type of cases can be both emotional and complex.

    One of the factors that can affect child support payments is your parenting plan. If you have more than 93 overnight visits with your children each year, the amount of child support you pay may be less.

    The type of child support case you file can also determine the amount of the child support you receive or are required to pay. If you are an unmarried parent, Colorado law may provide retroactive support to the date your child was born. However, you must file the right type of child support case to obtain retroactive payments.

    Child Support Only Case:

    • If you cannot afford an attorney, the local Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEF) handles these cases for a $25.00 up front fee. Go to childsupport.state.co.us.
    • Any parent can do this.
    • Lasts until the child emancipates.
    • It ends by getting a court order when the child emancipates, marries, turns 19 (unless still in high school), joins the military, or the court orders a change.
    • Limitations: The CSEF will not purse ARP (custody) and will not purse interest due to past child support. They also will not purse maintenance (alimony) only cases.
    • Benefits: The cost; CSEF has access to government computer data base and can do things like suspend a driver’s license and do tax refund intercepts.
    • Who qualifies for support: Child is born to or has been adopted by the responsible party; persons who have custody (ARP) of a child.
    • Legal standard to change or terminate: Substantial or continuing change in circumstances (example: child support amount calculated by formula in statue is up or down 10%).
    • Statute: Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act: 14-10-115.
  • Modification of Parenting Plans and Court Orders
  • The parenting plan and child support agreements that worked for you at the time of your divorce or the time the Orders were entered may not be workable now. In Colorado, you can go back to the family court that created your divorce orders and
    seek modifications in certain circumstances.

    Modification of Child Support

    There are several circumstances that may allow you to file a motion to modify child support:

    • You or the other party’s income increased or decreased significantly.
    • You lost your job.
    • Your parenting plan has changed.
    • You have an additional child to support.

    It’s important to file motions to modify child support promptly, as changes generally cannot be made retroactively. Verbal agreements with your former spouse are not normally enforceable and may not change the amount of your child support
    obligation and they should be avoided in order to protect your interests.

    Modification of Parenting Time

    If your work schedule changes, you move to a new residence, or you or your spouse move out of state, your visitation schedule may be changed to something that works with your new situation. If you plan to move out of state, or even a long
    distance from the other parent, you may have to file a motion and first get court approval. We can guide you through this motion to modify parenting time and motion to move out of state.

    Child custody can also be changed if your child is in a situation that endangers his or her physical or emotional health. To change custody, you will have to show the court that the harm caused by a change in custody is outweighed by the harm of leaving the child in the situation.

    Modification of Marital Property Division

    If your ex failed to disclose assets at the time of your divorce, your property settlement case can sometimes be reopened and modified within a limited time. If you are faced with this situation, do not wait – call one of our attorneys before it is too late and we will walk you through the rules of re-opening a property division.

    Enforcement of Parenting Time and Support

    If your spouse denies you visitation rights or is not paying child support, our lawyers can help you enforce those agreements in court. We prosecute and defend contempt of court cases. In some cases, you may be entitled to make up parenting
    time or visitation. Sometimes the parent who is in contempt of court may have to go to jail or pay your legal fees and costs.

  • Paternity
  • Establishing Paternity in Colorado

    In Colorado, paternity can be established either by agreement of the parents or by a DNA test. Courts can also order a DNA test to disestablish paternity if a man thinks he is not the biological father of a child he is supporting.

    Determining Child Support for Unmarried Parents

    Child support is calculated using a formula that considers the gross income of both parents, health insurance premiums, day care costs, the child’s primary residence and the number of overnight visits the child has with the nonresidential parent.
    If you are an unmarried parent, Colorado law may provide retroactive support to the date your child was born and may even provide you with reimbursement of birth expenses The child tax exemption may be awarded to one parent or may be divided. It is important that you address the child tax exemption in court.

    Determining Visitation for Unmarried Fathers

    It’s not unusual for a mother to cut off a father’s contact with his children following the breakup of a relationship. Our lawyers often file paternity cases on behalf of fathers who want to continue to have a relationship with their children. Once paternity is established by agreement or DNA testing, the court will proceed to allocate parental responsibilities, which includes both child support and visitation.

    • When the mothers wants to establish who is the father, ARP (custody) and child support.
    • Who has the authority: A child, the natural mother, a man presumed to be the father, or the department of social services.
    • Lasts: Until the child emancipates, marries, turns 19 (unless still in high school), or the court orders a change (get a court order upon emancipation to end the child support). This does not mean that the person is not your father, it only refers to legal obligation associated with the determination of paternity.
    • Benefits: Primary custodian may receive court ordered child support; very high standard to ever change; parents are entitled to parenting time (visitation); can have joint or sole decision making or divide this up.
    • Legal standard to established: Married to mother; attempted to marry mother prior to the birth, after birth mother marries father; acknowledge paternity in writing and filed with the court of vital records, consent, obligated to pay child support, genetic test of 97% or greater.
    • Key point: If you are a dad, you want to file an ARP. If you are a mom, who is owed support, you want to file a paternity action rather than an APR.
    • Statute: Children’s Code 19-4-105.
  • Adoption
    • When a child may be available for adoption only if the factors listed in 19-5-203(1) are met; it is a lengthy list – will need to check with a lawyer if you want to adopt as you are going to have to commence a legal action to adopt any child.
    • Who can adopt: Any person 21 years or older.
    • Four ways:
      1. Kinship: by a relative
      2. Step-parent
      3. Custodial Adoption
      4. Adoption through an agency or social services
    • Duration: Never ends – child is same as a biological child; emancipates same time as naturally born children.
    • Limitations: Biological parents are grandparents may never petition for parenting time (visitation) from adoptive parents; adoptive parents do not get child support from biological parents.
    • Benefits: Permanent.
    • Legal standard to establish: Best interest of child, plus – if it is a step-parent, kinship, or custodial adoption: Abandonment: 1 year of non-support or no contact (continuous); in an agency or social services case, parental rights have been terminated.
    • Legal standard to change/terminate: Removal from the home by social services via court order or another adoption. Note: If step-parent adopts and you later divorce, the adopting spouse could possibly end up with custody of the adopted child in the divorce case.
    • Statute: Children’s Code 19-5-201.

    We handle three types of adoption in Colorado:

    • Stepparent adoptions: Stepparent adoptions can take place without consent of the noncustodial parent when the child has had no contact or support from that parent for a year or longer. In most stepparent adoptions,
      the biological parent is out of the picture and the stepparent adoption simply gives legal standing to a parent-child relationship that already exists.
    • Kinship adoptions: Relatives who may adopt a child include grandparents, brothers, sisters, half-siblings, aunts, uncles and first cousins. In a typical kinship adoption, the biological parents are either missing or unfit to be parents due to drug use or mental illness. In most cases, the child is already being cared for by the relative. The child is available for adoption without consent of the parents after the child has had no support or contact with the
      biological parents for a year or longer.
    • Custodial adoptions: Custodial adoptions are a way to avoid the astronomical costs of going through an adoption agency to adopt a child who is not related to you. For a custodial adoption, the prospective adoptive parents must have had physical or legal custody of the child for one year or longer. This can be done by agreement with the child’s biological parents.
  • Protection Orders
  • How Protective Orders Work

    Anyone who feels that he or she is in physical or emotional danger or are being harassed can seek a temporary protection order on an ex parte basis. Ex parte means that the other party does not have to be present and a judge can grant the order based on your word alone. The person subject to the protective or restraining order will be barred from calling, driving by, threatening or otherwise contacting you.

    The temporary protection order is good for as long as 14 days, when there will be a hearing to determine whether it should be made permanent. One reason to get an attorney’s help is to ensure that you testify before the court as to the proper
    grounds to make the restraining order permanent. The accused has a right to defend himself or herself at the hearing.

    If You Are Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence

    If someone obtains a temporary protective order against you, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A protective order can affect you in many ways. If you were living with the victim, you can be kicked out of your home and your gun rights can be taken away. If you have children, your custody and visitation rights can be adversely affected.

    Don’t go to Court on your own! An experienced attorney can help protect your rights.

    If you violate a protection order, you will face criminal charges even if the protection order was temporary.

  • Dependency and Neglect Cases
  • Few events are more difficult for parents than to have a child taken from their home. Yet, this is exactly what can happen when the Colorado Department of Human Services begins a legal process known as a dependency and neglect (D&N) action against you.

    If you are ever contacted by social workers concerning alleged abuse or neglect of your children, we can defend you. We represent parents in the Denver metropolitan area.

    What Is a Dependency and Neglect Action?

    Teachers, doctors, nurses and child care workers are required to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect. However, anyone – neighbors, relatives and others – can voluntarily report a parent for child neglect or abuse. Even if the accusation is false, the reporter has immunity from prosecution if it was made in good faith. Allegations of abuse and neglect are taken very seriously in Colorado. Once a report is made, the human services department (frequently called Social Services) may send case workers to your home. The case workers have the authority to remove your children from your home and temporarily place them in foster care or with a relative. Case workers can also begin a court action to terminate your parental rights and place your children up for adoption.

    If the state determines that the allegation against you is founded, it can place you on the Colorado registry of child abusers. If you receive a letter saying your name is being placed in the registry, you should call an attorney right away.

    Should I Talk to the Case Workers About the Allegations?

    If at all possible, call our attorneys before you talk to the case workers. There may be both civil and criminal implications in these cases, so you need legal representation before you make statements.

  • Guardianship
  • Guardianship Power of Attorney:

    • Used when a parent or a guardian temporarily leaves a child with someone else who needs to have the legal ability to make decisions for that child.
    • Anyone over 18 years old can serve as the Guardian.
    • It ends after 1 year or revoked by the parents.
    • It lasts 1 year and can be renewed annually, if desired.
    • Limitation on the Guardian: cannot consent to marriage or adoption; may not able to get child on your health insurance.
    • Benefits: Easy to revoke if it is not working out or there is a change of mind.
    • Established: When both parents or sole legal custodian sign a Power of Attorney form before a Notary.
    • Another benefit: No legal standard to revoke – any reason will do, and anytime.
    • Statute: Uniform Probate Code – Section 15-14-105
    • Form: JDF751 available at the Colorado Supreme Court web site.

    Guardianship by Court Order:

    • Used: When parents place the child with someone for an extended period or permanent period of time. Also used when both parents are deceased.
    • Who qualifies to be a guardian: Anyone over the age of 21, including a parent of the child.
    • How long does it last: Depends on what the court orders- can be temporary or permanent.
    • Ends: A guardianship of a minor terminates upon the minor’s death, adoption, emancipation, or attainment of majority or as ordered by the court.
    • Limitations: Guardian is not automatically entitled to receive child support (must get child support under 15-14-209); and parents are not automatically entitled to receive parenting time.
    • Benefits: Guardian can resign if it does not work out; court can remove and replace the Guardian if needed.
    • Legal standard to establish and terminate: Best interests of the child.
    • Statue: Uniform probation code section 15-14-204

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Miller Leonard, PC

14143 Denver W Pkwy
Golden, CO 80401‎

Phone: (720) 613-8783

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"Miller Leonard PC focuses on family law, federal criminal defense, Colorado state criminal defense, Colorado municipal criminal defense and select civil matters such as defending civil orders of protection or sealing records. We put quality before quantity in order to provide superior legal representation. We serve the state of Colorado including the Denver metropolitan area and Jefferson, Denver, Adams and Arapahoe Counties."