Why An Experienced Attorney Matters

I want to discuss with you some of the questions that have come up regarding the hiring of an attorney in a divorce or family law case, such as a child custody case. The differences between hiring an attorney who has a lot of experience and hiring an attorney who doesn’t have a great deal of experience. Maybe an attorney that’s come from a different area of the law or someone who’s left a law firm who has been practicing an area that’s unrelated to family law. Family law is a very specialized area. There are a lot of special qualities to family law that a lawyer needs to be aware of to properly advise a client.

If you don’t have that wealth of experience. Then you’re not going to be able to adequately represent a client. Experienced lawyers who practice in this area are dedicated. I take a lot of seminars. Attend a lot of classes all year long. Read a lot of material, books and articles. That’s all meant to stay on top of the latest trends. To stay on top of the latest case law that applies to family law cases. I think there’s an old saying that you get what you pay for. When you are considering hiring an attorney, keep in mind that the cost may be more, but what you’re getting is a dedicated experienced professional who’s going to do their best to fight for you in the most aggressive manner possible.

Contact Shayne Law if you have any questions.

Inheritance

Many cases that we have involving parties who have been married for any length of time deals with the question of inheritances and whether or not an inheritance would be impacted by a divorce or legal separation. An inheritance is the receipt of some sort of monetary estate by one of the parties from either a family member or a third party. Pretty much the law in Colorado is going to define an inheritance based upon the length of the marriage and what did the parties do with the inheritance. Let me give you an example. Let’s assume that in a 15-year marriage that the husband received an inheritance from his parents who passed away and that inheritance involved a 300-acre property in the state of Colorado, and he kept the 300-acres solely to himself, didn’t share it with the wife in any way, and all he did was pay taxes and insurance on the 300 acres during their 15-year marriage.

There’s a couple of rules that may apply and one of them is whether or not the marriage supported the 300 acres in any way. Did the marriage pay taxes? Did the marriage pay for improvements on the 300 acres? What did the marriage do to contribute to the well being of the property? In that situation, that inheritance would probably be called marital property because there was some co-mingling of marital funds with separate inheritance funds as opposed to inheritance funds that sat in a bank account, accrued interest that nobody ever received during the course of the marriage, and stayed separate.

Contact Shayne Law if you have any questions.

Domestic Abuse-Violence Charges

In Colorado, there are certain types of crimes that could affect a child custody case. One of the most common is where there’s been a restraining order entered against the parent, or a parent has been charged with domestic abuse. Domestic abuse would include domestic violence. Another example would be where a parent has a drug problem or a drug addiction and the court has to intervene to make sure that the children are protected from a parent who has abused drugs, has abused alcohol, or any controlled substances.

In situations that I’ve had in the past, where parents have had an alcohol problem, and that parent may have been involved in a DUI or a DWAI, the court has to take into consideration not only the alcohol abuse by that parent, but whether or not the parent who has had a history of alcoholism can safely parent children. Can they drive the children to school? Can they pick the children up from the other parent? If there’s a medical emergency, will that parent be able to get in the car and take the children to the hospital if needed? When these situations occur, you can expect that the court is going to want to know that both parents are fit and capable of providing the children with a safe, loving, nurturing environment.

Contact Shayne Law if you have any questions.

What is Evidence

In all family law cases, one of the most important jobs that a lawyer does with a client is make an assessment of the evidence. The stronger the evidence in one party’s favor, the more likely that the outcome is going to go the way that the client wants. Evidence can be in different forms. Evidence can be through testimony of witnesses, like the parties who come to court and present their version of the facts. Or it can come in the form of documentation. Those are records. Those are reports.

It’s important to understand that it is not the volume of evidence. It’s the quality of the evidence that the law will take into consideration in making rulings in the family court. Let met give you a couple of examples. If there are a lot of police reports in a case … Let’s say that there’s children and that there’s a history of domestic violence or domestic abuse. It’s important for the lawyer to have a really good understanding of what has gone on in the past with domestic abuse and to acquire those police reports so that the client and the lawyer can determine what witnesses need to be called, are there any photographs, are there any other witnesses to the domestic abuse?

That same principle would hold true where a parent has a history of alcoholism and the parent may have gone to rehab a couple of times and may have gone to the criminal court for DUIs. All those kinds of events by a parent would affect … prior activities by that parent, misconduct by the parent, and the stronger the evidence in presenting your case, the greater likelihood that there can be success later on.

Assessing the evidence is a very important role for an attorney and a client. If someone doesn’t have an attorney, either party, but particularly where one party doesn’t have a lawyer and doesn’t know what the role is of the rules of evidence, how to admit records into evidence, what is going to be acceptable evidence, such as what is hearsay and what isn’t hearsay, obviously the person that doesn’t have a lawyer is going to be at a disadvantage. Having a very good background in knowing what evidence gets admitted and how it gets admitted and what are the foundations that need to be laid in order to get evidence before a court is critical to you in your ability to present a favorable case.

Contact Shayne Law if you have any questions.

Financial Experts

In many family law cases, we encounter the issue of financial experts, particularly where the parties have been married for a substantial period of time. They’ve acquired a lot of assets or property. They have a lot of accounts, or maybe where one of the parties has been a self employed business entrepreneur and has developed his or her own business. There’s different kinds of financial experts in many of these cases. I want to talk to you a little bit about that. When folks have a home and they need to determine what the value of that home is in their divorce, they usually need a real estate appraiser to do that.

I had one case where the parties had an extensive art collection from all over the world and they needed someone to give them a value of their art. Another kind of expert we use often in these cases is called a forensic CPA or a forensic accountant. These kinds of experts are familiar with the tax code, they’re familiar with how to calculate present value for the determination of division of property, such as retirement accounts and pension accounts. They can prepare what they call marital spreadsheets which will be a document in a spreadsheet like an Excel spreadsheet that will state what the parties own and what all of their accounts are including bank and retirement accounts and what their debts are, and to determine what the best way would be to divide the marital estate. Experts are extremely valuable in certain family law cases, and I urge you to talk to your lawyer about whether you need those kinds of experts or not.

Contact Shayne Law if you have any questions.