Domestic Violence Resources

We know that being a victim of domestic violence is terrifying and can impact every aspect of your life. Here are a few resources for victims and their families to refer to. We are always here to help; you are not alone.
Family Tree
Jefferson County
303-271-6559
Project Safeguard
All counties
303-219-7049
Rose Andom Center
All Counties
720-337-4400
Fort Carson Victim Advocacy Program
(719) 243-7907
National Domestic Violence Hotline
All Counties
800-799-7233

Suicide Prevention Month

Most people know someone who has struggled with mental health or who has been affected by suicide. September is National Suicide Prevention Month and Divorce Matters wants to show our support by providing resources for you or anyone you know dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts. We can all help prevent suicide, and understanding the issue is the most important way to take part in that. There are risk factors and warning signs to be aware of that might help you determine if someone is at risk of committing suicide.

Whether it is dealing with mental health or going through a tough time in life, we can all take action and provide support to those who might be considering suicide. Changing the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention can help promote healing and give hope to those who need it. Check out https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ for more information and resources on how to get involved and raise awareness for suicide prevention. If you or someone you know is in need of help call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255).

National Dog Day

Wednesday, August 26th was National Dog Day and Divorce Matters just had to show off our love for our fur babies! These furry friends are more than just pets, they are a part of our families. We hope you had as much fun as we did celebrating our pups this year!

Winner of the 2020 Divorce Matters Scholarship Announced

Divorce Matters is proud to announce Sara Vieyra as the winner of the 2020 Divorce Matters Scholarship. Although we had a lot of qualified applicants this year, Sara stood out among them. Our committee was impressed with Sara’s academic involvement, work ethic and empowering essay.

Sara graduated from Arrupe Jesuit High School with a 4.03 GPA and will be attending College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts this fall, which has always been a life-long dream of hers. She will be majoring in English and intends to go to law school after she graduates. Through her internship and accomplishments on Mock Trial as a captain, Sara found her passion for criminal law, and hopes to work for a non-profit law firm after law school to help represent minorities and impoverished communities.

Some of Sara’s achievements and involvement include being an editor for the Atticus Literary and Art Magazine, receiving both the Best Witness award and the Best Attorney award at the Regional Mock Trial Competition, interning at the Denver City Attorney’s Office, and participating with her the Arrupe Girls’ Varsity Soccer Team.

When we asked Sarah what receiving this scholarship means to her and her educational journey she wrote, “One of the main reasons that students don’t go to college is because they can’t afford it and students don’t want to pay off student loans for the majority, if not entirety, of their career. I knew that going to college was going to take a financial toll on my family’s finances, so I educated myself and I took out a loan that would work best for my family and me. This scholarship will alleviate some of my family’s financial burden and will set me up for success financially, professionally, and academically.

I would like to thank the Divorce Matters Scholarship Committee for the grand opportunity they have given me in my journey towards becoming a lawyer!”

It is our honor to award Sara with this scholarship and wish her the very best in her undergraduate education and achieving her goal of becoming a lawyer someday.

We want to thank everyone that applied and wish you all the very best in your academic endeavors!

Front Range Area COVID-19 Return To School Plans

With back to school right around the corner many parents may have questions about what the plan is for their child(rens) school reopening. We have compiled a list of Front Range area school districts and pulled information from their respective websites about what their back to school plans are. For more information, follow the link to your school district’s website included below.

Information listed here is collected from each school districts’ website. Given the nature of COVID-19, this information may change at any time.

Denver Metro Area School Districts

Adams 12 Five Star Schools – All students will begin the school year on August 27th with remote learning and some periodic, small group in-person opportunities. Remote learning will continue for all students through at least Friday, Sept. 25.

Adams 14/Commerce City – August 24th”“October 7th students will begin classes in a remote-learning environment. If COVID-19 incidences permit, the District will transition into a hybrid-learning environment, where in-person and remote learning continue at the same time throughout the week.

Adams-Arapahoe 28J – Students will be learning remotely from home through the first quarter, which ends on October 8. A decision about whether to begin in-person learning at that time will be made.

Boulder valley RE-2 ”“ Boulder is taking a hybrid approach, where students’ families were able to opt out of in-person learning in July. Some students will be going back in a phased approach. To learn more, follow the link.

Cherry Creek 5 – School will begin August 17th, 2020. The impact of the virus in Arapahoe County will determine whether students that signed up for “in-person” will start the school year physically in schools or remotely at home. They will communicate this decision by August 6 after receiving local health department updates. Students who choose “100% online” will start online regardless.

Clear Creek RE-1 ”“ Visit the website for more information.

Denver County 1 – As of July 29th, DPS will extend 100% remote instruction from the start of school on Aug. 24 through Oct. 16. They will also be working toward bringing back small groups of students identified as high priority for in-person learning as soon as Sept. 8.

Douglas County RE-1 ”“ School begins August 24th, with two different options: a hybrid model for students returning to in-person learning or a 100% online learning option.

Elizabeth School District – School begins August 24th, where students will resume in person learning unless their families opt for 100% online learning.

Englewood 1 ”“ Families were given the option between in-person or online learning for their student(s). The first day of school will be on August 27th.

Gilpin County RE-1 ”“ School begins August 10th with two program offerings for students: 100% online learning with Gilpin teachers or a 100% online learning program with pre-made computer courses with a Colorado licensed teacher.

Jefferson County R-1 ”“ August 24th all students begin with remote learning. September 8th Grades PreK-5 students will begin in-person learning and Grades 6-12 will begin a hybrid model. Remote learning option is still available.

Littleton 6 ”“ August 24th all students start school. Grades PreK-5 all students will return to in-person learning. Grades 6-12 will return with a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning. An online learning option is available.

Mapleton 1 ”“ School begins on August 27th, with in-person five-day a week instruction with the option to enroll in 100% online learning.

Platte Canyon – School begins August 17th. Those who enroll in in-person learning attend all classes every school day. A 100% online learning option is available.

School District 27J ”“ School begins on August 25th, with various grades’ orientations occurring in the weeks leading up to this date. Both in-person and online learning options are available.

Sheridan 2 ”“ August 17th is the first day of school with both online and in-person learning options available.

Westminster Public Schools ”“ School begins on August 20th, with both in-person and online learning options available.

Larimer and Weld County School Districts

Ault Highland RE-9 – All Highland Schools will be providing in-person instruction five days each week. The first day of school for students is August 18th.

Briggsdale RE-10 ”“ Briggsdale is returning to in-person instruction on August 18th.

Eaton RE-2 ”“August 18th is the start date for all EMS (6-8) and EHS (9-12) students, August 20th is the start date for GES, BEES, and EES (Exception: EES Kindergarten), and August 21st is the start date for EES Kindergarten. In-person learning will resume at the beginning of the school year, with an online learning option available to families that request it.

Greeley 6 ”“ School begins August 17th, with a return to in-person learning. An online learning option is available for those families who need it.

Park-Estes Park RE-3 ”“ School will begin August 24th with in-person learning. An online learning option is available to families.

Pawnee RE-12 (Grover) – School will begin as normal, on August 17th.

Platte Valley RE-7 (Kersey) ”“ School will begin on August 19th with in-person learning. A remote learning option will be available with administrative approval.

Poudre R-1 ”“ School will officially start August 24th, but the first day for each student’s in person instruction will be staggered depending on which group your child(ren) are in, with the option for 100% online learning available for those families who enroll in it.

Prairie RE-11 ”“ In-person and online school options are available.

St. Vrain RE-1J ”“ School will begin on August 18th for grades 1-12, and August 20th for kindergarteners and will be 100% online learning until the last week of September, at which point the district will reevaluate.

Thompson R-2J ”“ Transition day for grades K, 6 & 9 is August 31st. School begins on September 1st, and there are in-person and online learning options available.

Weld County RE-1 (Gilcrest) ”“ School will begin on August 20th, with in-person learning. All students have the option of remote learning.

Weld County RE-5J (Johnstown-Milliken) ”“ School will begin August 24th, with in-person and online learning options available.

Weld County RE-8 (Fort Lupton) ”“ School begins on August 17th for K-12 and August 20th for PreK with both in-person and remote learning options available.

Weld County School District RE-3J ”“ School begins on August 18th, with in-person learning Tuesdays through Fridays or a full-time online learning option is available as well.

Windsor RE-4 – School will begin August 17th or 18th and will include different plans depending on the grade of those students going back to in-person learning in middle and high school. There is also online learning available.

El Paso County School Districts

Academy 20 ”“ The first day of classes will be August 24th, and parents are able to select in-person instructional time for their children or full-time online learning.

Calhan RJ-1 ”“ 6th grade, 9th grade and new students of middle and high school begin in-person on August 11th, and all other secondary students begin on August 18th. A remote learning option is available.

Cheyenne Mountain 12 ”“ All in-person preschool classes begin on Monday, August 24th. For grades K-6, the first full-day of in-person learning is Wednesday, August 26th, as well as grades 7-12 beginning their first full-day of remote learning. Starting Thursday, September 10th grades 7-12 will begin their first day of in-person/blended learning.

Colorado Springs II– The start date for both in-person and online learning is Monday, August 24th.

Edison 54 JT ”“ They are positioned to re-open their schools to in-person learning for the 2020-21 school year starting August 18th.

Elicott 22 ”“ First full-day of in-person learning will begin on Monday, August 24th. Parents can choose remote learning for their students if they prefer.

Falcon D49 – Will begin the school year on August 17th with remote learning as the primary mode of learning, with a plan for a staggered in-person return, after Labor Day.

Fountain 8 ”“ Will be re-opening for in-person instruction starting Monday, August 17th with safety practices and procedures. Virtual learning is available if parents prefer or children cannot medically attend in-person school yet.

Hanover 28 ”“ There are three options for students to choose from: In-person learning, remote with in-person hybrid learning, or complete suspension of in-person learning and fully online instruction. Classes will begin on August, 18th.

Harrison 2 ”“ Grades K-5th will begin in-person or e-learning instruction as selected by families on Monday, August 17th. Grades 6th-12th begin remote learning on August 17th and will switch to in-person on September 8th based on county recommendations and a successful start of elementary students.

Lewis-Palmer 38 ”“ There are learning options in place for each school level. These include full schedule in-person, full-time online or a hybrid. To find your child’s specific level and options, you can go to the school districts website.

Manitou Springs 14 ”“ Classes will begin on Friday, August 21st. They are following a Transitional Hybrid Model. This model includes two options: hybrid in-person and at-home learning or full-time online learning.

Miami/Yoder 60 JT ”“ Students and staff will return to in-person classes with safety measures. Grades 6-12 begin on Tuesday, August 11th, and grades K-5 will begin on Wednesday August 12th. Remote learning will not be offered.

Peyton 23JT ”“ Peyton School District will be moving to an in-person instruction four days a week for elementary schools, and an alternating schedule for grades 7-12. More information will be forthcoming.

Widefield 3 ”“ The start of the school year will begin on August 24th with a staggered start for PreK-5th grade with a modified in-person model. Grades 6-12 will also begin on August 24th with a distance learning model at home until at least September 8th.

 

 

4 Ways to Enjoy The Great Outdoors This Summer

With most of the state re-opening after coronavirus, here is a list of four exciting things to do outdoors with friends and family all over the state of Colorado!

1. Hike to Hanging Lake

This scenic trail that is just about 3 hours west of Denver, near Glenwood Springs, takes you to a gorgeous canyon with a flowing river and gentle waterfalls. The scenic hike is just over a mile long but it is quite steep and rocky. Make sure to pack sunscreen, hiking shoes and lots of water! Visitors must purchase a permit online at https://visitglenwood.com/hanginglake/#toggle-id-4-closed before arriving.

2. Sloan’s Lake Recreational Activities

Whether you want to catch some fish, take a bike ride or watch a beautiful sunset, the largest lake in Denver has it all. It is open to the public and has some great facilities to take advantage of in the summer. With picnic tables, sports fields and a trail around the lake, there is something to do for everyone! Check out all that Sloan’s lake has to offer at https://www.uncovercolorado.com/public-parks/sloans-lake-park/

3. Weekend Camping Trip

Do you want to escape the hustle and bustle of your everyday life? Take the kids and get away for a weekend by going camping in the great outdoors! Pitch a tent, make a campfire, and relax in the Colorado wilderness. To find a campground and make reservations, go to https://cpw.state.co.us/buyapply/Pages/Reservations.aspx

4. Take a road trip

Want to explore new places you’ve never been before in Colorado or beyond? Hop in the car with your kids or some friends and set your sights on a new adventure. Whether it be the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, the gorgeous mountains in Estes Park, or out to the deserts of Moab, UT, there is always somewhere new to go and more beautiful to see!

We know life can get a little hectic, but it is always important to take some time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors – especially when we live in a state as beautiful as Colorado!

What Happens After a Marital Settlement Agreement?

 

What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?

A divorce settlement agreement can be referred to by many names, depending on where you live. It is a formal written document which lays out the terms both parties involved have agreed to. It can be called:

  • Divorce Settlement Agreement
  • Separation Agreement or Separation and Property Settlement Agreement
  • Custody, Support ,and Property Agreement
  • Mediated Separation Agreement
  • Collaborative Settlement Agreement
  • Property Settlement Agreement (PSA)
  • Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

The purpose of a marital settlement agreement is to document the details of any agreements reached between separating or divorcing spouses, and covers such areas as child custody, alimony (sometimes referred to as spousal support, maintenance, or separate maintenance), child support, the division of property, and any other issues that are relevant to your situation.

What the Process Involves

The steps you take to reach a marital settlement agreement can vary. You do not have to reach an agreement before you separate, but you can. You may also enter into a marital settlement agreement after you separate or after you file for divorce. In many cases, however, the parties involved may not be able to reach an agreement until divorce proceedings are about to begin. However, if you can reach an agreement before a judge intervenes, you can avoid unnecessary turmoil and minimize your attorney’s fees.

If you are able to reach a marital settlement agreement before you go to court, a divorce attorney or mediator can draw up the agreement and submit it to the judge, who will review the terms and ensure that they are fair and equitable. The judge may ask questions of one or both parties for clarification and to make sure everyone is in agreement. Because there is no discovery process in place in a divorce case, the judge will not have the opportunity to decide if your agreement is equitable (“fair”), but only if it complies with the laws of the state and is therefore legal and enforceable.

If you opt to begin the process before consulting an attorney, you can do so by acquiring the proper legal forms at your local county courthouse. Your marital settlement agreement should include:

  • The date you got married
  • The date you separated
  • The names and ages of any minor children
  • The reason (grounds) for your divorce
  • Your current address and living arrangements. This can mean that one or both of you has moved out of the family home, or that you’re currently living “separate and apart” within the home
  • The current situation and location of your children
  • Other assets that you wish to name (e.g., family pets)

Once the agreement is drawn up, both parties need to confirm their agreement in writing, and have your signatures witnessed to make them legal and binding. Assets and debts will need to be defined and divided, a parenting plan to include custody as well as visitation should be included and agreed upon, and finally spousal support and child support will need to be determined and agreed upon. Once you’ve finished the paperwork be sure to check for errors before having it reviewed.

It is important to note that it is highly recommended that this agreement is drafted and/ or reviewed by a qualified mediator or divorce attorney, and not something you or your spouse generates on your own without consulting a legal professional. There are legal terms that must be used and terms that must be specified in order for your marital settlement agreement to be legal and binding; this is not a good scenario to have anything unclear. It is always best to have an attorney working on your behalf.

If your spouse’s attorney draws up the document, you need to have your own attorney review it before you sign, to make sure it was done correctly and according to your understanding of acceptable terms. The document will be entered into court records and become part of the legal proceedings. Once the marital settlement agreement is signed it becomes legally binding. As contested divorces can become lengthy and complicated procedures, reaching an agreement before your case goes before a judge can save everyone time, expense, and stress.

What Happens After a Marital Settlement Agreement?

The marital settlement agreement, while it is a binding contract, is not set in stone. It can be amended if both parties are in agreement with the proposed changes. Areas which are commonly changed include child custody, child support, and visitation agreements. These terms are often modified when a significant change in circumstances occurred after the date of the original order, such as a job transfer to another state which directly impacts visitation arrangements.

Another reason for modifying terms can be that a new arrangement is in the best interests of the child or children involved. Depending upon the wording of your original marital settlement agreement, alimony provisions may or may not be modifiable. Check with your attorney prior to your court date make sure the terms of your original agreement are clear regarding whether spousal support will be modifiable or not.

What is a Post-Decree Modification?

Divorce is a complicated process that is often fraught with emotions and challenges, and one most people want to get through as quickly ”“ and as unscathed ”“ as possible. For many couples who separate and/ or divorce, once their case has progressed through the court system and the final divorce decree has been issued, they believe that all is said and done, all decisions are final, and nothing will change. However, after a divorce settlement agreement is reached and made official by a court in a final divorce decree, it can be modified as circumstances change. This is known as a Post-Decree Modification, or Post-Decree Motion. These motions are filed when a legally separated or divorced couple takes part in post-decree litigation, which means the parties involved are in disagreement about issues after the final divorce decree has been issued and are headed back to court to resolve these issues.

Quite often these disputes are precipitated because one of the parties involved determines that the other party has violated a court order relating to the divorce. An example would be when the party responsible for paying court-ordered child support or spousal support fails to do so. Another valid reason for seeking a post-decree modification involves challenging the financial settlement based upon a failure to disclose debts or assets or concealing information that should have been produced. The parties may attempt to work out their differences on their own but if that fails, the injured party may have to file legal paperwork usually known as a contempt action requesting that the court enforce the original order.

What Issues are Handled with a Post-Decree Motion?

Child support, custody, and visitation arrangements are commonly the subject of a post-decree motion. This can be due to a number of factors including a physical move to a new location, a new marriage for one or both of the parents, a significant change in financial status, living conditions, financial need of the child, and above all, the best interest of the child or children involved. If the agreed upon parenting plan is not working and needs to be modified, parental responsibilities, parenting time/visitation, schooling, health care, and other issues can be subject to change. Attempts to alienate or isolate a child or children from one parent by another is also just cause for a post-decree modification request.

Alimony, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, may also be subject to change due to a change in employment, involuntary loss of job, change in living conditions, remarriage, substance abuse, arrests, or incarceration, a deteriorating mental or physical condition, or other factors. A judge will closely examine the details of the case and determine if anyone is attempting to avoid paying court-ordered alimony or if the requested changes are legitimate and worthy of consideration.

The objective of a post-decree modification is to revise an existing final divorce decree so that it accurately reflects the lives and needs of those it represents, both adults and children. However, circumstances and conditions change all the time, and your original divorce decree may need modification because it does not accurately represent your current situation. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce case, you may have a variety of post-decree options. If your circumstances have changed since your final divorce decree was issued and you would like guidance and help in filing a post-decree modification in Denver, the legal offices of Divorce Matters are open and ready to assist you. Reach out to us today and let us help you achieve an arrangement that meets your current needs.

Do I Need a Will and Powers Of Attorney?

By Attorney Miguel C. Mondragon

Many people believe only married couples with small children and considerable assets should consider an estate plan. In fact, all adults can benefit from a well-crafted last will and testament and power of attorney. These legal documents offer many benefits and allow you to pass assets onto beneficiaries according to your wishes in the event you become incompetent. The most fundamental, and likely the most well-known, estate planning instrument is the last will and testament.

A last will and testament is a legal document that designates who will inherit your assets, when your beneficiaries will receive those assets, who will manage your estate when you die and among other things, name the guardian for any minor children. In the event you die intestate, meaning without a will, your estate will be divided in accordance with the per stirpes laws of Colorado and your children may become wards of the state.

While a last will and testament will ensure your estate and children are taken care of upon your death, a power of attorney will ensure your health care needs and financial assets are managed properly in the event you are declared incompetent and cannot make those decision for yourself. A general power of attorney is a document that grants legal rights and powers by a person, named the principal, to another, named the agent or attorney-in fact, to make decisions on behalf of the principal. The agent has a fiduciary obligation to make decisions based upon the preferences of the principal. A critical component of a power of attorney is ensuring the power of attorney is “durable”, meaning, the power of attorney permits an agent to make decisions for the principal if they become incapacitated.

A general “durable” power of attorney grants the agent authority to manage the finances of the principal in the same fashion as if the principal were making the decision themselves. This means, your power of attorney will have the authority to bank, acquire property, sell assets and manage all your financial and business matters based on your preferences. It is critical that extreme care and caution are used when selecting your attorney-in-fact as there is little to no oversight of their decisions. It is easy for people to confuse the powers granted in a power of attorney verses the powers granted in a conservatorship. Under a power of attorney, the principal retains their rights to make their own decisions alone. An agent only has the power to act along with the principal in accordance with the authorization set forth in the document.

A medical power of attorney authorizes your agent to make medical decisions for you should be unable to do so ”“ for example, if you have become unconscious or mentally incapacitated. This document can become part of an advance healthcare directive. There are many situations that could result in a person being unable to make or communicate medical decisions. These situations can affect not only senior citizens, but younger adults as well. An individual may be rendered unable to make medical decisions as a result of a head injury, stroke, heart attack, mental illness, car accident, or any number of events that can result in a person becoming unconscious, incompetent, or unable to communicate.

A medical power of attorney can be as simple or as complex as the principal wishes to make it. A well-crafted medical power of attorney will cover several scenarios, which include end of life decisions, organ donation and final wishes. Making these decisions yourself and removing this burden from your loved ones is one of the greatest gifts you can do for those you care for and love. However simple or complicated your medical power of attorney is, it is important the documents comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, also known as “HIPPA”. HIPPA ensures your medical information is kept private as well as allowing your attorney-in-fact to have access to critical medical information.

There are very specific legal requirements, many of which are governed under Colorado’s Probate Code (C.R.S. §15-1-101,et al), that must be closely adhered to ensure your estate plan will be enforceable and survive probate as well as ensuring your power of attorney is upheld. Obtaining competent legal counsel is just as important as the documents themselves. If you or someone you know are searching for an estate plan or a power of attorney, please contact Divorce Matters to be connected with an attorney for assistance.

Attorney Brooke Shafranek Answers Your Questions Regarding COVID-19 and How It Affects Your Divorce

Divorce Matters attorney Brooke Shafranek answers questions submitted from the community.

https://youtu.be/vQBnBmm3a0U

Q. Can I still get a divorce? (0:18)

Q. What can I do if I’m experiencing an emergency, such as domestic violence or child abuse? (2:30)

Q. Co-parenting, parenting plans, what happens if we need to deviate or I and my ex disagree? (3:04)

Q. What will happen with the stimulus checks that the government is sending out? (3:53)

Contact us for more information or to schedule a video or phone consultation:  720-542-6142