Frequently Asked Questions


Colorado Family Law  Resources

Below you will find some of our most frequently asked questions. If you have a question about family law that is not answered below, please submit it to Shepard Law. You will receive an answer within two business days.

Family Law FAQ's

What is the difference between filing for dissolution of marriage and filing for legal separation?

Procedurally, dissolution of marriage (divorce) and legal separation are exactly the same. In either proceeding, you will be entitled to a determination of maintenance (formerly alimony), child support, parental rights and responsibilities, and division of property. The only difference between the two is that with legal separation, a decree is not entered and you will still remain legally married to your spouse. Religious preferences are often the reason some people opt to file for legal separation rather than dissolution of marriage, but there are other reasons as well. Regardless of what you chose as being the best option for you, Shepard Law is here to help.

My ex is no longer involved in my child’s life. Can I terminate their rights?

Terminating another parent’s rights in Colorado is incredibly difficult. You must prove with clear and convincing evidence (a much higher standard than other court proceedings) that termination is in the best interests of the children. This can be proven through a parent’s incarceration, drug use, physical abuse, or other similar circumstances. You may also have other options depending on your circumstances. Shepard Law has helped clients modify their current parenting plans to better protect children who have absent parents who may be a danger to their children, without terminating their rights. Another option may be stepparent adoption. If your child’s biological parent has been absent for over a year or has not paid child support for over a year, a stepparent may petition the court for adoption. For more information on modification proceedings or adoption proceedings, contact us.

How long will my divorce take?

Once you file for divorce, there is a mandatory 90-day waiting period before the court will enter a decree. The quickest you can get divorced is 90 days from the time the Petition was served if one party filed or from the time the Petition was filed if you filed jointly. However, depending on the issues in your case, especially if children are involved, this process may take much longer.

What will my case cost me?

Family law cases are charged on a flat rate fee scale. Contact us for an initial consultation to determine what your case will cost you. With family law cases, unfortunately, predicting what your entire case will cost you is impossible. Family law cases are charged at an hourly rate. This hourly rate is taken out of a retainer fee that you provide upfront and replenish as the case moves along. The cost for attorney services varies drastically from case to case, and will be explained more thoroughly based on your individual case in your free initial consultation. Shepard Law is one of the few law firms who provide low cost/affordable rates for low income clients. If you feel that you are unable to afford an attorney, please contact us and we can discuss payment options and reduced rates if you qualify.

Can I handle my case on my own or do I need an attorney?

Shepard Law always advises that you get legal advise any time you are involved in court proceedings. Even attorney Tricia Shepard hired another attorney to assist her for her own child custody case years ago as it is always better for you to have an impartial, unbiased, and experienced professional handling something so important to your life. The choice is ultimately yours. If you choose to represent yourself, please visit our Helpful Links page, which includes a link to the Colorado Judicial Branch Self Help page.

Can I get back child support?

It depends on where you file your case. In domestic relations cases filed in District Court, you are entitled to child support dating back to the time you file your case. If you file in Juvenile Court, you are entitled to back child support, including birthing expenses, dating back to the time of physical separation.

What is a CFI? Do I need one for my custody case?

A Child and Family Investigator (or CFI) is either a mental health professional or a legal professional who acts as an unbiased third party in custody cases. They meet with each party involved, the children, and other individuals to make recommendations about what is in the best interests of the children. CFIs are typically excellent resources for high conflict custody cases. Contact us to see if a CFI would be a good option in your case.

If my spouse cheated on me, will the court look at that?

Colorado is a “no-fault” state, so evidence of who is to blame for the divorce is not admitted to obtain a divorce.

How do courts decide who gets the children?

In Colorado, a court’s main concern in awarding parenting time is what is in “the best interests of the children.” Several factors are taken into consideration, including a child’s relationships with others, a child’s adjustment, a party’s physical and mental health, past history of parental involvement, and more.

Who will get decision-making rights in my custody case?

When determining decision-making rights, courts can split decision-making in several different ways. Courts can decide to award one parent sole-decision making or to award joint decision-making or they can award separate decision-making rights for separate issues. The court takes multiple factors into consideration when deciding how to split decision-making, including whether the parents can cooperate and whether the parents have a history of working things out together.

Can I get an annulment?

In Colorado, an annulment is called a Declaration of Invalidity. You cannot get an annulment except for in very specific circumstances, such as if you were mentally unable to understand you were getting married or you entered the marriage under duress. Once you get an annulment, it is as if your marriage never happened. But in order to attain an annulment, you must prove that you would not have gotten married if the circumstances were changed.

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