By Jennie Wray and Angela Arkin
The Harris Law Firm
Colorado law related to families is constantly changing, both in the area of finances and in relation to the best interests of children. But recent decisions from the Colorado Court of Appeals related to financial and property matters are likely to have a substantial impact on the practice of family law going forward. Specifically, there are two significant decisions that all attorneys should know about.
Attorney’s Fees from
Currently, according to the State Court Administrator’s Office, approximately 70 percent of domestic relations cases in Colorado are filed by a party without an attorney. Many parties obtain traditional or unbundled representation during the pendency of the case, but it is estimated that at least 50 percent of the cases are resolved with at least one party who is self-represented. Many parties have expressed that the high cost of legal representation has been a significant deterrent to their hiring a traditional, full-service attorney for their divorce or allocation of parental responsibility case.
Dependent spouses who are in a more traditional marriage, have a lower paying job or are employed only part-time might not be able to afford the same attorney representation as the higher-earning spouse without access to funds from the higher earner (through temporary support), or access to credit or marital assets. Courts can award prospective attorney’s fees, but self-represented parties are not always aware that they can ask for money to hire an attorney. Also, the amounts awarded by the court to the downside spouse might not cover the total costs of the representation.