The Law Firm of Jennifer S. McDonald, LLC focuses on family law cases and working for the best interests of children. See below for more information on specific practice areas.
FAMILY LAW PRACTICE AREAS
Getting divorced is a very personal and often extremely emotional process. The termination of a marriage means that the legal, financial, and emotional aspects of your life must be reorganized. At The Law Firm of Jennifer S. McDonald, LLC, we are experienced in simple and complex divorce cases. We can help you examine the aspects of your life that will be changing during the divorce process, and work to come up with solutions that will help you move past the divorce and on to your new life. Our lawyers work hard to settle cases, but we are always prepared to take your case to court if it becomes necessary.
At The Law Firm of Jennifer S. McDonald, LLC, our mission is to help parents move through the divorce process with their children's well being at the the center of their case.
Allocation of Parental Responsibilities, or child custody, is broken down into two parts under Colorado Law.
1) Parenting Time, and
2) Parental Decision Making
Parenting Time is the amount of time that each parent gets to spend with their children. Our attorneys help parents craft Parenting Plan agreements that outline the number of overnights that children spend with each parent in any week, month, and year. Parenting plans also outline holiday schedules, the logistics of how parenting time exchanges will take place, and any other details that will help the family cooperate and function with as little acrimony as possible.
PARENTAL DECISION MAKING
Parental Decision Making Authority relates to how decisions regarding the minor children will be made after a divorce, or after a custody agreement is reached. The Court has the ability to award one or both parents parental decision making authority over a number of categories including: educational decision making, medical decision making, extracurricular activities for the children, and religious decisions.
Courts in Colorado tend to favor joint decision making between parents. Joint decision making allows, and forces, parents to work together to make decisions for their minor children. There are instances when sole decision making is appropriate.
It is possible for a parent to get sole decision making over one major decision making category, but not sole decision making over all major decisions.
The allocation of decision making authority is very fact specific and you should speak to an attorney about the facts of your case.
BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILDREN
Courts in Colorado consider the best interest of the child, or children, when allocating parenting time and decision making. The Court must look at the "best interest factors" when making their determinations. A lawyer can help you look at the best interest factors in your personal case.
When parents cannot decide what is in their children's best interest, the Court has the ability to appoint a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) to do a brief and focuses assessment of the family, and write a report on what the CFI thinks is in the best interest of the child, or children. A CFI gets to spend more time with your family than a Judge or Magistrate. The CFI report is an investigative tool allow the Judge or Magistrate to make a more informed decision in your case.
The Court can also appoint a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator (PRE) to do a more thorough investigation of your family's situation. This evaluation is often done by a mental health professional.
At The Law Firm of Jennifer S. McDonald, LLC our attorneys are experienced in helping clients establish and modify child support orders. Courts order child support in Colorado for the benefit of your children. The amount of child support is determined by the income of each party, and the number of overnights the child has with each parent. Our attorneys can help you determine what your child support obligation will be.
Most Courts in Colorado require parties seeking divorce or child custody orders to attempt mediation prior to seeking Court involvement in their cases. This is true before your divorce, and also after.
Mediation is an opportunity for parties to work together to try to settle their case outside of Court. A mediator is a neutral party that listens to the needs of each side, and encourages parties to come to agreements. Mediation is a good way to keep your case out of Court. Mediation is private, where Court hearings are public.
In mediation, you get to decide the outcome if your case. If you go to Court, the Judge or magistrate makes final determinations for you.
Mediation can help save you time and money. Attending mediation is a way to resolve your case in a few hours. Going to Court can take years. Hiring an attorney to appear at a contested hearing with you can be very expensive.
Working toward settlement in mediation often teaches parties that they are able to work together, reducing the likelihood that they will return to Court for future litigation. And, mediation allows people to craft agreements that work best for their families, reducing the likelihood that one party will be unhappy with the agreement later.
Our attorneys attend mediation with parties to help encourage settlements, and review agreements to ensure they are in our clients’ best interest. With our extensive family law litigation experience and our conflict resolution skills, we are highly qualified to help your family reach a resolution in domestic relations matters.
Jennifer McDonald is a trained mediator, and is able to serve as a mediator in your case if you wish to pursue mediation as an alternative to litigation. Ms. McDonald cannot serve as both your attorney and mediator on the same case. Give us a call at 303-991-2740, or email us at for more information.
After child custody orders have entered, if a parent wants to move with their children to a location that substantially changes the geographical ties between the children and the other parent, the parent wishing to move must ask the Court’s permission to relocate. This happens if a parent wants to move out of state, and if a parent wants to make a large move within the State of Colorado.
The Court has specific criteria to look at when determining whether or not a relocation is in the child, or children’s, best interest. It is important to speak to a lawyer early if you are considering relocating and want to bring your children with you.
MODIFICATION OF COURT ORDERS
POST-DECREE CHILD CUSTODY MODIFICATION
Families grow and change after divorces, and child custody arrangements, are finalized. Therefore, parenting plans and orders regarding decision making often need to change. Parenting plans that work for two-year-olds may not work for 15-year-olds. Our attorneys are skilled at helping families work to adapt their current parenting plans for new circumstances.
POST-DECREE CHILD SUPPORT MODIFICATION
The financial circumstances of parties often change after a divorce is finalized.
If you change jobs, get a big raise, or change the amount of parenting time
that either parent has, a modification of child support may be warranted.
Any time the financial circumstances of either parent would change a child support
award by at least 10%, child support can be modified.
A lawyer can help you determine whether your changed circumstanced would warrant a modification of child support in your case.
POST-DECREE MAINTENANCE MODIFICATION OR TERMINATION
If the Court orders at least one dollar of maintenance to either party in a divorce, that maintenance order can later be modified or terminated, based on the circumstances of the parties. In order to modify or terminate maintenance, the Court must determine that the parties have had a substantial and continuing change of circumstances that makes the maintenance award unfair.
ENFORCEMENT OF COURT ORDERS
Contempt is a legal remedy for when you think the other side is not complying with the Court’s Orders. The Court has specific criteria that must be met before they find a party in contempt. Our attorneys can speak with you regarding whether or not contempt is your best option to enforce your court orders.
OTHER LEGAL REMEDIES
Our attorneys are skilled at helping parties file for judgments and other legal remedies to enforce their court orders.
MAINTENANCE - SPOUSAL SUPPORT
In Colorado, maintenance is the legal word for alimony, or spousal support payments. Maintenance can be awarded to a spouse in a divorce. The purpose of maintenance is to help the lower earning spouse maintain the lifestyle they are used to, and help the lower earning spouse by giving them some income and time to obtain more education, or develop their job related skills.
If you have been married at least three years in Colorado, when you file for divorce the Court will require that you and your spouse review the maintenance guidelines. The statutes have outlined a calculation that the Court must do when determining whether or not maintenance is appropriate. The Court does not have to award the guideline maintenance amount. But, it can give you a good idea of what the Court is likely to order.
Contact our office today to discuss what the maintenance guidelines say about your particular situation.
A prenup is a contract between parties who are entering into a marriage. The exercise of drafting a prenuptial agreement prior to your marriage is often a great step in starting to talk about important issues like finances, and inheritance. Many people today are opting to get a prenup to protect their spouse from personal debt incurred prior to the marriage. Prenuptial agreements allow parties to create rules regarding how their marriage will operate, rather than relying on state statutes.
It is important to have an attorney for each party when signing a prenuptial agreement in Colorado. The statutes are meant to prevent any undue influence or coercion. We often review and revise prenuptial agreements drafted by other attorneys.
Whether you need to have a prenuptial agreement drafted, or reviewed, we are experienced in helping craft
a prenuptial agreement that will fit your relationship. Give us a call today to talk to an attorney about drafting your prenup.
Today it is not uncommon for families to take many different forms. At The Law Firm of Jennifer S. McDonald, LLC we often work with grandparents who have been raising, or helping to raise, their grandchildren. If you are a grandparent and you would like help getting court ordered grandparent visitation, or you need help getting legal custody of your grandchildren, give us a call today.
Domestic violence can take many forms. Our attorneys are trained on the impact that domestic violence has on victims and children. We have experience working with victims of domestic violence. If you would like information on getting a civil protection order, or how domestic violence may influence the outcome of your divorce or child custody case, give us a call today.