In order to create an effective parenting plan, you have to be realistic about your individual situation. Who has been primarily involved in caring for the children while you and your partner were together? How are you going to handle the logistics of the children after you and your partner separate? By that, I mean how are you going to get them to school? How are you going to pick them up from school? How is that going to look on a summer day? How is that going to look here in Colorado when we have a snowy day and roads are bad? How close are you each going to live to the children’s school? How practical is that going to be for you to be involved in that? What are your work hours like? Can you realistically get the children up, get them dressed and fed, get them to school, and make it to work on time? Can you realistically get to school or daycare after you complete work in time to pick them up?
The first step that you should take is call my office and make an appointment to come in and see me. All you have to pay is for one hour of my time at $285. I will sit down with you. We will talk about your unique situation. We will talk about child support, if applicable. We will talk about maintenance. We will talk about division of assets. Get some legal advice. There’s no further obligation to us, if you decide to go elsewhere, or you ultimately reconcile. Go in and get some legal advice, so you know what your rights are. Other factors to consider are where are you going to live, and where is the other party going to live? Practical things. How are you going to pay to split up households? What is that going to look like? Is one of you going to move out of the marital residence? Are you both going to stay there under some sort of nesting arrangement?
The cost of getting divorce in Colorado is based upon a number of factors. One factor obviously is the filing fee. You have the cost involved in filing your case with the court. If it’s a co-petitioner filing, in other words, you and your spouse filed together, there would be one filing fee. If you are the petitioner and your spouse is the respondent, there will be a filing fee for filing a response. First off, there is the filing fee.
Other factors obviously are attorney’s fees. What do attorney’s fees cost? My hourly rate is $285 an hour. My paralegal time is build at $155 an hour. Support staff time is billed at $50 an hour. We operate in an hourly basis, so what your case is going to cost you here at Lewis & Matthews depends basically on how much work it’s going to take. How involved you are in assisting in the process.
There are a number of different steps you have to look at. The first step is whether it’s going to be a petitioner and co-petitioner filing. In other words, are you and your spouse going to file together? If you are, you’re both going to need to sign off on the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. That does save the cost of the filing fee for the respondent. If you’re not going to do a petitioner and co-petitioner filing, then if you are the petitioner you have to decide how you are going to get the paperwork served on the other party. Most people will waive and accept service. I always call, unless there’s domestic violence involved or some high-conflict situation. I would say 99% of the time someone comes in to see me, we decide to go ahead with the Dissolution of Marriage petition I always call the other side up and say, “Hey, look. I have the paperwork for you. How can I get it to you? I’d like for you to sign a waiver and acceptance of service so that you acknowledge receipt of the documents for purposes of due process. I really don’t want to have to send a process server to your door, or a sheriff to serve you.” The first step is how are you going to file your petition, the next step is how is service going to be perfected.
The answer is yes. Most child custody cases are settled outside of court, and reason why is that people tend to do better with agreements that they’ve entered into voluntarily versus agreements that are forced on them by a third party. Also, all the courts, unless there’s domestic violence involved, will order you to do mediation. You would be ordered to do mediation with a neutral third party. That’s the mediator, and the purpose of mediation is to see if you can enter into a parenting plan that resolves your situation. That is the most efficient and cheapest, really, way to resolve a child custody case.