How Do I Deal with a Vindictive Ex?

Going through a divorce is hard enough as it is, but when your spouse becomes vindictive, the process automatically becomes ten times harder. Vindictiveness can include all kinds of things, like removing your name from bank accounts, alienating the kids, making unfounded accusations, and even making unnecessary request of the court just to make your life a little harder. It can be hard to know the best way to deal with your vindictive ex, but in the end it’s pretty simple.

The Best Reaction is No Reaction

It can be hard not to react when it feels like your ex is trying to knock you down, but it truly is the best reaction in this scenario for a couple of reasons. You’ll save your own emotional energy if you aren’t arguing and fighting over everything your ex does and, if kids are involved, it will stop the kids from seeing the fighting.

Reduce Direct Interaction

Try to interact with your ex as little as possible. Once attorneys are involved, this should be pretty easy, as all communication can go through attorneys. If your ex continues to seek out direct interaction, you can always speak to your attorney about getting a protection order for your safety.

Record Interactions

With direct interaction limited, most communication will likely be digitally. Be sure to save those messages and emails, just in case they might prove useful in court.

Set Boundaries

This is the most important part! Your mental health can take a turn for the worse when dealing with a divorce, a vindictive ex, and every day life. Make sure to set boundaries on what you are and are not willing to do and deal with as you continue through the divorce process. Try not to compromise your own boundaries and don’t be afraid to speak to a therapist to help you out!

Dealing with a vindictive ex is incredibly time consuming and emotional! Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Your attorney and the rest of your “divorce team” will be your saving grace!

What Types of Law Does Divorce Matters Practice?

Just from our name, it’s easy to tell that we excel in divorce law, but what other kinds of cases can Divorce Matters handle? We are a law firm specializing in family law. Family law covers a wide variety of different cases including:


Estate Planning

Divisions of Marital Property

An important part of the divorce process in Colorado is figuring out how to divide marital property. The procedure generally involves two steps. First, it must be determined what marital property is. Second, the marital property must be divided equitably

Spousal Maintenance

In Colorado, neither spouse has an automatic right to maintenance. The court may award maintenance only if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property to meet their reasonable needs and, in addition, is either unable to support themselves through appropriate employment or should not be required to seek employment because of child care responsibilities. Divorce Matters has lots of experience in Spousal Maintenance negotiations and our attorneys are the perfect choice to help you!

Child Custody

When children are involved, the divorce process doesn’t end once the final paperwork is filed. With children come often contentious and painful negotiations about and modification of parental rights, parenting time, and custody. Our team has deep experience dealing with child custody and parental rights issues and we believe it is our duty and an imperative to help couples address custody and rights issues in ways that reduce the impact of divorce and protect children in the process.

Child Support

In Colorado, child support is based on strict guidelines dictated by state laws and statutes. The issue of child support is separate and distinct from the issue of parenting time, and child support payments may not be conditioned upon parenting time. Due to these strict laws, it is important to have guidance from an expert attorney throughout the process.

Post Decree Modifications

Have your circumstances changed since your divorce? Have you lost your job? Has your ex-spouse received a salary increase? Did your ex-spouse fail to disclose financial matters during the dissolution of marriage? Once your divorce is finalized, fortunately, not everything in your original separation agreement or parenting plan is set in stone. Courts recognize that circumstances change, and, sometimes, spouses hide income or assets during the divorce process. Depending on the exact circumstances of your case, you may have a variety of options post-decree. In the following sections, we explore your options in modifying maintenance, child support, parenting time, custody, and decision-making, as well as how you can reopen your property division.

Mediation and Arbitration

Mediation and arbitration are perfect options for anyone going through a divorce. Both options allow the partners to take more control in the divorce, as well as keep the process out of court. Not only does Divorce Matters represent clients through mediation and arbitration, but we also have a mediator on staff!

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence happens to people in all classes, statuses, and ranks in life, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, education, profession, or socioeconomic status. The unfortunate reality is that one in four women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, resulting in an estimated 1.3 million women becoming victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.

Contempt of Court

After having gone through a divorce or once you have some orders from the court, you may at some point find yourself on either end of a contempt of court action if one of the parties is not complying with the orders. If you find yourself on either end of a contempt action, Divorce Matters is here to help!

Unbundled Legal Services

Unbundled legal services are the perfect solution for anyone not ready to jump into full-scale representation. With unbundled services, you can hire an attorney at their hourly rate to help you with specific aspects of your legal troubles, like filing paperwork or gathering documents!

Common-Law Marriage

The state of Colorado allows couples to enter into common law marriage. However, the parameters of common law marriage can be hazy and difficult to understand, just like common law divorce


If your case falls under family law, we can help with your appeal!

Prenuptial Agreements

While there are a million things to plan when a couple decides to marry, often the most difficult to discuss with your future partner is the possible need for a prenuptial agreement. While this subject is not the most romantic or exciting part of wedding planning, a couple contemplating marriage in Colorado may need to consider entering into a prenuptial agreement, or a contract before marriage.

Military Divorce

To thank our Military service members, we even offer 10% off of legal fees! This discount is offered to all active and retired service members, veterans, and military spouses.

Thomas Legal Firm

While Divorce Matters only deals in family law, we do have a sister law firm that offers other services. Thomas Law Firm deals with Criminal matters as well as Civil Law matters, including general litigation, civil rights, workers’ compensation, and business defense litigation.

Tips on How to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship

Domestic Violence is extremely complex and the first thing to know is that it is never your fault for being mistreated. You deserve respect, love, safety, and happiness, no matter what your abuser might say. That being said, it is also not your fault if you are not yet ready to leave your abusive partner. It is an incredibly difficult thing to do and takes a lot of planning. If you are ready to start planning to leave, hopefully, you will find some of these tips helpful in your planning. Just know that you are not alone and you are right in doing whatever you find necessary in your situation.

Protecting Yourself While Still in Your Home

While you are making your plans to leave, it is important to still be able to keep yourself and your children safe.

  1. Know What Triggers Your Abuser: Pay attention to what sets your abuser off. This could give you time to get out of the house before your abuser gets angry.
  2. Find Safe Spaces: Whether the safe spaces are in your own home or with a neighbor, friend, or family member, know where you can go to hide out for a little while.
  3. Know Who You Can Go To: In relation to the above point, it is important to know who you can go to for help. This can be anyone that you trust and know is able to help you.

Make an Escape Plan

  1. Make and Memorize a List of Contacts: If you may have to leave without many of your belongings, it is important to have phone numbers that you can call from a public phone or a borrowed phone. Include all of your trusted friends, neighbors, and family members that you know you can go to.
  2. Gather Important Documents: Gather any documents you will need to start your life over again and keep them in a safe place. You should include your birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license or ID, and some money. If you have children and will bring them with you, you should gather these same documents for your children.
  3. Pack a “Go Bag”: If it is possible to pack a bag and keep it hidden, do so. Pack some emergency cash and the documents mentioned above, as well as the important phone numbers you have gathered and a few changes of clothes. Do not feel bad if you cannot pack a bag like this. It is not possible for everyone, especially if they are leaving abruptly or in an emergency.

Once You Have Left

  1. Find a Place You Can Stay: Whether that place is with someone you know, love, and trust or at a Domestic Violence or Homeless Shelter, find a place that you will be safe from your abuser. They will often try to find you after you have left.
  2. Change Your Passwords: If your abuser has any access to your accounts, change your passwords. You don’t want them to have access to your social media, bank accounts, etc.
  3. Get a New Phone (Or Change Your Number): This is mostly for your own sense of safety. This way your abuser will not be able to contact you. Keep your new phone number to yourself, except when absolutely necessary.

Call an Attorney

Why would you call an attorney? They can offer a variety of services to you to help you in the case of domestic violence. Here at Divorce Matters, we help domestic violence victims obtain civil protection orders (which people know more commonly as “Restraining Orders”), as well as get divorce proceedings started. Both of these services offer protection to a victim of domestic violence by making their abuse known to the legal system. You can learn more about how an attorney can help a victim of domestic violence by watching Ashlee Shaw Gonzales’ Ask an Attorney video. Please know that if you would like to reach out to Divorce Matters, we are more than happy to make our communications to you discreet. Just let us know about your situation and how you would like to communicate with us to keep you safe.

Domestic Violence Shelters in the Area

Not everyone has family or friends in the area who is able to help them escape a domestic violence situation. It is often an abuser’s goal to cut their victim off from their family and friends. If this is you, know that you still have options to help you get back on your feet. Domestic Violence Shelters are a great option and often offer services to help victims get jobs, new clothes, health services, babysitting, and legal help. Some in the Denver area are listed here:

SafeHouse Denver Domestic Violence Services

Rose Andom Center 

Mary’s Center Women’s Shelter

This Is How The Divorce Process Works and How Long It Will Take

When it comes to divorce most would say they want the process to be over as soon as possible so they can move on with their lives. This inevitably leads everyone to ask “how long will it be until I am officially divorced from my spouse?” A great place to start is our Divorce Timeline, which can be found under the Tools tab on our website. However, we also want to give a more general overview of how long the process might take. The specific circumstances and complexity of your case will determine the timeline, but overall, this is what you can expect the process to look like.


When You First File-


Once you have filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the courts in your county, your spouse must be personally served.  Learn more about what to do if you are the one being served divorce papers.

Once your spouse is served, he or she has 21 days (35 for out of state) to file a response. If you and your spouse both want the divorce and sign a petition jointly, the Service/Response step can be ignored. Your spouse may also agree to waive service if you do not file jointly. Just because you sign jointly does not mean the process is complete, and you will still need to follow the rest of the requirements in the process.


Once Your Ex Is Served-


You have 42 days after the date of filing to set up an initial status conference with the court and submit your financial disclosures. The initial status conference is your first court appearance and is an informal way for both parties and the Court to get on the same page about dates and deadlines in your case. It depends on the county and jurisdiction that you are in as to whether they will schedule a time for your initial status conference automatically once you file, or if you or your attorney have to reach out to the court to schedule your own. The timing for this solely depends on your county’s court and its timeline. You also will need to have your financial disclosures submitted within that 42-day deadline as well.


After Initial Status Conference-


You have the option to file for Temporary Orders, which is only necessary if there is an immediate conflict that must be addressed while your case is ongoing. Temporary Orders can help with decision making, child support or spousal support, or who will live in the marital residence during the divorce process. Temporary orders will be replaced by permanent orders at the end of your case. A temporary orders hearing, which is a separate court date, must be set to decide this and it will extend your case.


Once you’ve had your initial status conference, you and your spouse are then required to attend mediation by the state of Colorado. Everyone who files for divorce in Colorado must attend mediation, with a few exceptions. In rare cases where the parties agree to every issue, it is possible to skip mediation, which would shorten your case. Additionally, you may request mediation be waived in cases of domestic violence.




Mediation is a formal settlement conference where the mediator (whom you hire) assists in trying to reach a full agreement between you and your ex. If mediation is successful, you will leave with a signed or partial settlement agreement. Then your attorneys draft the final agreements and file the documents with the court.


If mediation is not successful, you must either come up with a settlement or prepare to go to trial. If you need to go to trial, this must be scheduled with the court and the timing completely depends on their availability and timeline. This can extend your case; therefore, it is ideal to come up with agreements in mediation or a settlement.




Your divorce will be finalized once a judge issues a decree of dissolution of marriage which then severs the marriage, and you are no longer married.




If a party is not satisfied with the final decision made by the court, then an appeal can be made. There are specific time constraints around appeals, so you will want to speak with your attorney if you wish to appeal any part of your divorce decree.


You also may modify certain orders put in place by the courts if circumstances change after the final agreement has been made. Again, you will want to speak with your attorney if you would like to modify any documents or orders post-divorce.


Overall, it can be difficult to determine the exact length that it will take to finalize your divorce because every situation is different. Your timeline will depend on the specific circumstances and jurisdiction of your case.

If you have questions about your particular situation or would like to speak with an attorney today, contact us.

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
Project Safeguard
All counties
Rose Andom Center
All Counties
Fort Carson Victim Advocacy Program
(719) 243-7907
National Domestic Violence Hotline
All Counties

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.

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

Dealing with Child Abuse in Colorado

Child abuse is a serious problem around the nation. According to the National Children’s Alliance, about 700,000 children are abused annually, though many more will be abused at least once during their childhood. Abuse can take many forms, including physical or sexual abuse, or emotional terrorism.

If you are in an abusive marriage, your spouse might also be abusing your children. You have options for protecting both yourselves and your children, but you need to take the proper steps. If you are asking yourself “what to do if my child is being abused by my spouse in Colorado,” we are prepared to assist you immediately.

What is a Protection Order?

This is a court order instructing your spouse to do (or refrain from doing) certain things:

  • Move out of the home
  • Limit or prohibit contact with you and the children
  • Not come within a certain distance of you and the children, including the children’s school
  • Not possess a firearm

If your spouse violates the order, the police will pick them up and take them to jail. A judge can also impose other penalties. Under CRS 18-6-803.5, violating a protection order is a misdemeanor offense and carries penalties of up to $5,000 in fines and up to 18 months in jail. A repeat offender faces even more serious consequences.

How Do You Obtain a Protection Order?

C.R.S. § 13-14-103 states that you can get an emergency protection order from a county or district court. When a minor is being abused, you can get the emergency protection order from either the juvenile or district court. Local law enforcement can also request an emergency protection order. This might happen if you call the police during a violent episode.

The court should have standardized forms that you fill out to request a protection order. The clerk should be able to help you find the form you need. However, you can also work with an attorney, which can make things much easier. If you are being abused, remember to get a protection order for yourself in addition to the children.

An emergency order is only good for a limited amount of time. Your spouse will have a chance to object to the protection order at a hearing before a judge issues a permanent protection order. At the hearing, you will need to present evidence of the abuse, such as witness testimony and medical or police records. An emergency order is often a vital first step since it can be issued immediately and provides peace of mind.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me?

A lawyer can make sure that you file your protection order properly. Many abused spouses also request a protection order when they have finally made the courageous choice to end their marriage. Because you might fear your spouse retaliating, you should make sure you have all of your ducks in a row and get a protection order for you and your children.

Divorce Matters can help. We are a Denver law firm specializing in divorce and family law with years of experience obtaining protection orders for our clients. Please contact us today.

Signs of Domestic Violence, and How to Help

Unfortunately, domestic abuse remains a serious problem in Colorado. According to the latest data provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), approximately 16,700 domestic violence reports are filed with law enforcement in the state each year.

Sadly, the true extent of the domestic violence problem is undoubtedly far higher than the official law enforcement numbers show ”” not only are most domestic violence cases never actually prosecuted, the vast majority of the victims never file a formal report at all.

Here, our dedicated Fort Collins divorce attorneys offer an overview of some of the warning signs of domestic abuse. In addition, we highlight three important tips that friends and family members should keep in mind if they want to help.

The Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse

It is important to remember that every domestic violence case is unique ”” abuse can take a wide range of forms, and different strategies may be required to provide useful help for different victims. Simply put, domestic abuse is extremely complicated. It is not uncommon for victims to be unsure, unaware, or in denial of the abuse. Some of the most common warning signs of domestic abuse include:

  • Controlling behavior;
  • Forced social isolation;
  • Extreme jealousy;
  • Verbal threats and intimidation; and
  • Any form of physical violence.

If you see actual injuries or other signs of physical abuse, you need to take immediate action. Of course, physical abuse can be covered up. Loved ones who suspect a problem should watch for the other warning signs of domestic violence as well.

How to Help a Domestic Violence Victim


  • Be Aware of the Situation


If you suspect domestic violence, you need to follow up on the issue. It is common to have credible suspicions without actually being entirely sure as to what is happening. The victim may even deny the abuse, or they may downplay the problem. This does not mean that you should let it go: You should always keep your eye on the situation and be ready to take action.


  • Help Them Develop a Workable Safety Plan


Dealing with domestic violence is incredibly challenging. On top of the terrible emotional issues, there are often complex logistical matters that must be resolved before a victim can get the help that they deserve. If you want to help a loved one, you must focus on assisting them in creating a workable safety plan. This includes everything from getting them to a safe location to sleep to making sure they have transportation and protection for their kids.


  • Be Ready to Seek Professional Guidance


You should always be prepared to seek professional guidance. You do not have to go through this on your own. One of the best starting points is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. For immediate assistance, you can call 1-800-799-SAFE. Free domestic abuse help is available 24/7/365.

Speak to a Domestic Violence Lawyer Today

At Divorce Matters, our compassionate Fort Collins domestic violence attorneys are committed advocates for our clients. We understand that each case is unique and we offer every person the fully individualized legal guidance that they need and deserve.

To arrange a fully private consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team at (720) 580-6745. With offices in Lakewood, Greenwood Village, and Fort Collins, we serve clients in metro Denver, the Front Range, and throughout the state of Colorado.

Divorcing a Narcissist

We all have heard of narcissists and some of us have probably dealt with one at some time or another. Unfortunately, some of us may be married to one, or maybe in the process of divorcing one.

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be challenging. Narcissists are vain and think of themselves very highly. They are callous and do not care about the feelings of others. They are concerned primarily about themselves. They have a need for constant admiration as if they are a celebrity. They also feel entitled to everything and cannot handle criticism well.

So when you divorce the narcissist, be prepared to see your spouse portray himself or herself at the victim and you as the most horrible person in the world. While this portrayal will likely make you extremely upset, the worst thing you can do is react emotionally. Why? Because narcissists don’t care about the feelings of others. You’re just making things worse for yourself.

A narcissist will try to take the divorce all the way to court to let a judge decide. This seems like a poor strategy, but in the eyes of the narcissist, it’s better to have an unfavorable outcome when someone else has the control than to give up control unwillingly. This may not make sense at all, but that’s how the mind of a narcissist works.

Divorce Tips

So what can you do to avoid your spouse’s drama and get your divorce finalized quickly? Here are some suggestions:

  • Let your lawyer know about your narcissistic spouse. Most lawyers have experience dealing with this type of person, but if not, find someone who is. You need to have the right strategy.
  • Establish goals.What do you want to accomplish in the end? Determine what battles you want to fight, because some are small and not worth fighting.
  • Listen and ask questions. Don’t have preconceived ideas. Learn more about your spouse’s point of view and set reasonable expectations.
  • Document everything. Your spouse will tell lies. You can negate these lies by having receipts and other documents to back up your claims.
  • Be objective. Play devil’s advocate. What arguments will your spouse use against you to make you look like the bad guy? Think ahead so your lawyer can help you avoid hurting your case.
  • Be reasonable. Your spouse wants you to enrage you. Don’t let him or her do it. Don’t think with your feelings. Use law and facts to create an argument that is logical and reasonable.

Contact a Denver Divorce Attorney Today

Being married to a narcissist can be frustrating, but divorcing one can be even worse. Your spouse will try to manipulate you and refuse to settle outside of court. He or she will make your divorce a nightmare. Get help by contacting the family law professionals at Divorce Matters. We can help create an agreement that will allow you to settle outside of court without the drama. Request a consultation today by contacting Divorce Matters online or by calling (720) 463-1232.

You Are Not Invited to Violate a Restraining Order

Civil protection orders, which are called restraining orders, can be issued on a temporary or permanent basis. Many times the parties are not strangers and have or had some type of relationship. It could be any familiar relationship such as husband-wife, boyfriend and girlfriend or similar relationships. When actual violence or threats of violence cause one party to get a civil restraining order, the relationship often does not end. But that does not mean the restraining order can be violated.
Not even if you’re invited. Not by writing, not by text, not even by Fed Ex. Not email, not by snail mail, not by thumbnail. According to the Colorado Court of Appeals, the other party can never consent to the violation of a restraining order. Even if they give consent, it’s not valid. So if your ex- wife has a restraining order with a no contact provision and then tells you its ok to contact her, it’s not. Not even if she sends it to you in writing by certified mail.
Many people find this confusing. How can you violate a restraining order if the other party agrees to it? Because consent of the court is required, not consent of the parties. This is meant to keep an abuser from bullying the other party into consent, which can lead to more bullying.