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Durango Family Law May 23, 2024

Family Law FAQS

At Durango Family Law, we understand that navigating family law matters can be a daunting and emotional process.

Located in the heart of Durango, Colorado, our dedicated team, including attorneys Rachel Brock and Hugh Boles, offers unique legal solutions that reflect the individual goals and interests of our families throughout Southwest Colorado, including Pagosa Springs, Cortez, Dolores, Silverton, Hermosa, Hesperus, La Plata County, Montezuma County, and San Juan County. 

In our mission to provide compassionate support and effective communication, we've compiled answers to some frequently asked questions about various areas of family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, adoption, and foster care. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Family Law Issues 

What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce in Colorado? 

In Colorado, both legal separation and divorce mark the cessation of marital relations, but they have distinct legal outcomes. A legal separation does not end the marriage; instead, it allows couples to live separately while remaining legally married. This means that neither party can remarry.  

A divorce, on the other hand, dissolves the marriage entirely, allowing the parties to remarry if they choose. The legal processes for both involve similar steps, including property division, child custody, and support arrangements, but the final legal status of the relationship differs. 

If you are considering a legal separation or divorce, we strongly recommend that you consult with a local family law attorney who can help you consider your options and navigate the legal processes involved.  

Who determines how assets are divided in a divorce? 

In Colorado, assets are divided according to equitable distribution. This doesn't necessarily mean equally but fairly, as determined by the court. The court considers several factors, including each spouse's contribution to the marital property and the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property becomes effective. 

How does the court determine child custody in Colorado? 

Child custody in Colorado, referred to as "parental responsibilities," is determined based on the best interests of the child. The court considers several factors, including but not limited to: 

  • The wishes of the parents and the child (if old enough to express a preference) 

  • The child's relationship with each parent 

  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community 

  • Each parent's ability to place the child's needs above their own 

Colorado encourages joint custody arrangements to foster frequent and continuing contact with both parents for the child. At Durango Family Law, we stand ready to assist with your child custody case and advocate for your rights as a parent and the best interests of your child.  

What factors does the court consider when deciding on child support payments in Colorado? 

Colorado courts use a formula to calculate child support, which considers several factors, including: 

  • Each parent's gross income 

  • The amount of time the child spends with each parent 

  • Childcare costs 

  • Health insurance expenses 

  • Educational and special needs of the child 

This formula is intended to promote fair child support payments that meet the child's needs.  

Can child custody orders be modified in Colorado, and under what circumstances? 

Yes, child custody orders can be modified in Colorado under certain circumstances, primarily if there has been a substantial and continuing change in the circumstances of the child or the custodial parent. This could include changes in the child's needs, relocation of a parent, or significant changes in a parent's lifestyle that affect their ability to care for the child.

The requesting party must prove that the modification is in the best interest of the child. This burden of proof underscores the value of having an experienced family law attorney in your corner to help make your case for a child custody order modification.  

What are the eligibility requirements for adopting a child in Colorado? 

To adopt a child in Colorado, you must: 

  • Be at least 21 years of age 

  • Pass a criminal background check 

  • Complete a home study process, which assesses your living situation, financial stability, and suitability to raise a child 

  • Participate in adoption training courses 

These requirements ensure that adopted children are placed in safe, stable, and loving homes. 

At Durango Family Law, we understand the emotional weight and complexity of the adoption process. Our attorneys appreciate the commitment it takes to growing your family and providing a loving home for a child, and we are here to guide you through every step of the process.    

What is the process for stepparent adoption in Colorado? 

The stepparent adoption process in Colorado involves: 

  • Obtaining consent from the non-custodial biological parent or petitioning the court to terminate their parental rights if consent is not given

  • Completing a criminal background check 

  • Filing a petition for adoption in the county where the stepparent resides 

  • Completing a home study (in some cases) 

  • Attending a finalization hearing where the court reviews the adoption request and, if deemed in the best interest of the child, grants the adoption 

At Durango Family Law, we provide comprehensive legal support for different types of adoptions, including stepparent adoptions, and our adoption lawyers are committed to making your experience as positive and stress-free as possible. 

What is the difference between an open and closed adoption in Colorado, and which is best for me? 

An open adoption in Colorado allows for some form of communication or contact between the birth parents, adoptive parents, and possibly the child. A closed adoption keeps the identities of all parties confidential, and no contact is allowed. The choice between open and closed adoption depends on the desires and needs of the adoptive parents, the birth parents, and the child.

It's essential to consider the long-term implications of this decision and possibly consult with a counselor to determine the best option for your situation. 

What are the options for foster care in Colorado, and what requirements must I meet to foster a child? 

Options for foster care in Colorado include traditional foster care, kinship care (where the child is placed with relatives), and specialized foster care for children with significant health or behavioral needs.  

To become a foster parent, you must: 

  • Be at least 21 years of age 

  • Pass a criminal background and child abuse registry check 

  • Complete a home study process 

  • Attend foster care training sessions 

These requirements are designed to ensure that foster children are placed in environments that can provide care, stability, and support.  

We at Durango Family Law have many years of experience working with foster children and foster parents as counsel for foster families. Our attorneys are dedicated to offering comprehensive and compassionate legal representation to children, parents, and families in the foster care system. 

The Importance of Legal Support in Areas of Family Law 

Facing family law issues without proper legal support can be overwhelming. With the experienced team at Durango Family Law, you'll find dedicated attorneys who offer creative problem-solving and genuine care for your unique situation. We're not just your attorneys; we're your partners in navigating these challenging times. 

For personalized legal guidance and support in family law matters, whether divorce, child custody, child support, adoption, or foster care, reach out to us at Durango Family Law. Our commitment to our clients' well-being and our innovative approach to legal challenges make us a trusted ally for families across Southwest Colorado. 


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