RESOURCES


Kids 24/7  provides lots of information and tools to help stay engaged with your kids, and suggestions to help find the paretning resources you need.

Family Survey


Welcome to the Single Parent Survival Guide! Our goal with this guide is to provide an overview of everything you’ll need as you navigate the divorce process. We recommend starting this Survival Guide with our Family Survey, to see where you already have things covered and where you need additional support to be the best parent and co-parent you can possibly be. You can come back to the Family survey at any point to update information and answers, and find places in the guide where you need resources.

This information is for your use only. We do not use it, share it with anyone or save it. This guide is designed for your use and education. While much of the content is relevant to connecting with your kids, please do not complete it with your child.

You must be logged in in order to send your family survey results to yourself

You

This section is focused on you and your needs. When answering think about yourself first.

Logged in user email:

Do you have a temporary or permanent parenting plan?
Yes - TemporaryYes - PermanantNo

Do you believe your co-parent agrees with the current parenting plan?
YesNo

Are you currently paying or receiving child support?
YesNo


On average how many overnights a week do you spend with your child?
1+None


Are child support payments made on time?
YesNo

How much do you owe in back support?

Are you currently employed?
YesNoCollecting Unemployment

Do you have transportation?
YesNoShare a Care

Do you and your co-parent maintain separate residences?
YesNo

Do you need assistance transitioning to separate households?
YesNo

Question: Do you have a budget?
YesNo

I need help with:

Kids

This section is related to information and interaction with your kids.

Logged in user email:

Have you met with your child’s teacher/counselor/principal?
YesNo

Face to Face meeting with doctors?
YesNo

Face to Face meeting with kid's friends?
YesNo

I need: (check all that apply)
To know who my child’s doctor is and how to reach themUp to date immunization records for my childTo organize a list of babysittersTo organize a list of your child’s friends and their parentsContact information for extended family members close byUp to date records about on-going medical needs for my child

Complete the Emergency Contact Exercise

Are your kids active?
YesNo

Do your kids have free time and time with friends?
YesNo

Is your kid's weekly schedule planned out?
YesNo

Do you engage in appropriate guidance & discipline?
YesNo

Do you do homework with your children?
YesNo

Are you concerned about their work in school?
YesNo

Do your kids have reported lower grades?
YesNo

Do you and your kids have a regular time to talk to each other?
YesNo

Do you discuss activities and interests that your kids are interested in?
YesNo

Family Eats around the table?
YesNo

I think my kids would benefit from counseling?
YesNo

I think my kids are coping well with the separation/divorce.
YesNo

Other Parent

This section is related to your co-parent. When answering think about your co-parent in each situation

Logged in user email:

Do you and your co-parent have a respectful co-parenting relationship?
YesNoNeeds Improvement

Do you and your ex agree about parenting style?
YesNo

In front of our children, my ex and I speak:
Supportively of each otherNegatively of each other

Do your kids have freedom to communicate directly with other parent?
YesNo

Legal Team

This section is to help you focus on legal needs and resources.

Logged in user email:

Where are you at in your divorce?
The divorce is finalWe’re separated but haven’t started the legal processWe haven’t started yet

Are you familiar with how divorce works?
YesNo

Has your judge or magistrate appointed a Child and Family Investigator?
YesNo

Do you have?
A lawyerA mediatorNone of the above

Does your Ex have a lawyer?
YesNo

BILL OF RIGHTS


Going through divorce or separation, especially as a parent, can be emotionally taxing and draining as you begin the process of navigating parenthood from a different lens. Being an involved and supportive parent is vital to your children’s well being  and as such you have the following “rights” as a single Parent.

1. You have the right to reasonable telephone contact with your child when he/she is in the care of the other parent.

2. You have the right to speak with your child privately and to expect the other parent not to eavesdrop on phone calls or read correspondence and e-mail between you and your child.

3. You have the right to notice of all school functions and extracurricular activities and to participate in these activities.

4. You have the right to participate in the decision of who will be providing day care and after school care for your child. You have the right to the name, address, and phone numbers of all babysitters and care providers for your child and to meet and speak with these individuals.

5. You have the right to reasonable notice when your child has been sick or injured.

6. You have the right to the name, address and telephone number of all physicians providing care to your child. You have the right to meet with the physician, to copies of your child’s records, and to participate in all decisions regarding non-emergency medical care.

7. You have the right to receive prior notice of and to participate in the decision to take your child to a psychologist or a licensed mental health worker. This includes the right to the name address and phone number of the counselor and copies of the counselors curriculum vitae and any other information relevant to the counselor’s credentials.

8. You have the right to be on the emergency pick up list for schools, childcare, and extracurricular activities.

9. You have the right to copies of your child’s school records, medical records, and in most cases, mental health records.

10. You have a right to an itinerary whenever the other parent will be spending time with the child away from their home. This includes dates of departure and return, travel, hotel and flight information, the names, address and telephone numbers of persons who will be traveling with your child, and phone numbers where your child may be reached during their trip.

11. You have the right to expect the other parent not to discuss your disputes with your child, or in front of your child.

12. You have the right to expect the other parent to encourage the child to love you, visit you, telephone you, and not to speak badly of you in the presence of the child.

13.You have the right to expect the child and the other parent to be consistently on time when dropping off or picking up the child and to a phone call when the other parent is going to be late.

14. You have the right to speak with (or at least correspond or e-mail) the other parent directly regarding your parental rights and scheduling contact. The child or others should not be used as messengers.

15.You have the right to expect the other parent to be reasonably flexible with the time sharing (visitation) schedule upon reasonable notice for special events.

Biggest Fears of Divorced Parents:

  • How this will affect their kids.
  • Losing their kids.
  • Losing what control they do have.
  • Not getting the same consideration as their co-parent and to lost their children to the other parent.
  • Exposing their kids to bad things or people that could possibly harm them/ feeling out of control of what is happening to their kids when you aren’t with them
  • Being deprived of the opportunity to develop positive, close relationships with their children. As a result their children and they themselves will suffer for the lost bond.
  • Losing contact with their kids.
  • To be an active part of their kids’ lives.
  • The best for their kids despite the circumstances of divorce or separation. Regardless of that I think all good involved parents want the same, opportunity and the best for their kids.
  • To have a strong bond with their children and to have the world know that both parents are equally important.
  • To know that their kids respect them and will adjust through the turbulence of the divorce. Finding new ways to balance a new lifestyle. Eventually finding a new partner who will love their kids.
  • To be viewed as equally capable of parenting, and is respected, appreciated, encouraged and nurtured in their role as a parent, regardless of gender.
  • Legal advice, strategies to interact with their co-parent, and parenting advice.
  • Help and support to be the best parents they can be.
  • They need knowledge, ignorance is a dangerous thing.
  • To have a strong bond with their children and to have the world know that both parents are equally important.
  • Help in how to be a better caretaker for the kids. Legal help and advice.
  • Support from friends, family and society.
  • A community to walk with them… easy and affordable materials to use for dealing with legal issues…a place to hang out with other parents and their kids… someone to help them stay connected to their kids.

How to talk with your kids, friends and family

As you go through the divorce process, here are some common divorce words and definitions you can use to explain different part so the process to your children. It’s also important to be thoughtful about the language you use about and with your ex-spouse – your kids pick up on everything you say so keep your language nonjudgmental, factual and neutral as much as possible.

Language to Learn to Use Instead of Negative Comments and Reactions


  • Your mom and I feel differently about..You need to talk to your mom about that.
  • I have a hard time dealing with your mom sometime. Bear with me.
  • No, I don’t love your mom, but I did when we married and had you. That’s what is important. Your mom has many good things about her.
  • I can’t answer that. You’ll have to ask your mom.
  • I don’t know why your mom feels/acts that way.
  • Don’t ever believe that because your mom or I fell out of love with each other that we won’t love you anymore. We will always love you. I’m not sure how to answer that. Let me think about it and we’ll discuss it later.
  • I know you miss your mom right now.
  • Perhaps she can’t help herself right now. It’s nothing you did.

A New Relationship with your EX


Work at developing a new kind of language – nonjudgmental, factual and neutral – when you discuss the children and make plans. Be civil and as amicable as you can.

Stick to the topic. Avoid the temptation to bring up old grievances (even if she does) or matters that have nothing to do with the kids.

Discuss money issues and parenting issues in separate phone calls. Don’t use exchanges of the kids to address issues.

Avoid blaming when problems arise. It’s easy to go there, automatic even. Instead concentrate on solutions and compromise.

Don’t jump at the opportunities to make your ex look bad. It will be tempting…don’t do it!
Figure out before you talk to her what it is you want specifically. Try writing out your ‘speech’ so you’ll stick to the topic and cover your important points.

Don’t contact or email your ex when you are angry! Delay responding to her angry email. ALWAYS edit your responses before sending.

Pick you timing carefully. Listen and watch for cues that you need to back off. If you aren’t getting anywhere, back off and try again another time.

Your ex’s character flaws will not disappear (nor will yours). The things that bothered you (her) will still bother you (her). Accept this and work on acceptance that “good or bad, right or wrong, this is the way it is.”

Approach your ex as a business partnership. You are partners in a business. The assets are your children.
DO NOT put negative comments on facebook, twitter, or any social networking site!
Follow up verbal agreements with a written agreement. This is what we agreed to…

Beyond keeping language nonjudgmental and neutral, your child can greatly benefit from hearing compliments and positive language from you about their other parent, here are some ideas and great examples we’ve heard in our work.

It can be challenging for both parents and children to express their emotions to one another. Sometimes it can be easier to write out your thoughts and feelings before saying them out loud. Share this Letter to Parents template with your child for them to express their emotions.

For more tips on parenting children of divorce, check out our recommended resources.

Talking with your older children about divorce

*Information taken from Dr. Conklin’s Blog

Dr. Deanna Conklin-Danao shares on her blog that while most of the concerns regarding the impact of divorce on children are focused on younger children living at home, divorce also impacts older children. College aged children often have a strong reaction to divorce that parents are unprepared to handle.

This issue is gaining increased relevance as more older couples are undergoing divorce, leading to many children receiving the dreaded “freshman call” announcing that their parents are getting a divorce. If you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce, here are some helpful tips for helping your college aged children deal with this major life change:

If you are divorcing at this time in your child’s life, keep the following in mind:

Concept of home is lost – College may be the first time that your child is on their own. While most kids relish the independence of college, in many ways home becomes more important as a base of familiarity and stability. With the news of divorce the idea of home may be lost. He may worry that he won’t have a place to go over the break or be sad about the loss of his childhood home.

Feelings of guilt – While younger kids tend to worry that they are the cause of a divorce, college aged kids often have feeling of guilt that they could have done something to help save their parents’ marriage. These feelings can exist even if the child knows that the marriage was troubled.

Shock – While many college aged kids have the maturity and insight to understand may see troubles in their parents’ marriage, one study found that college aged kids often romanticized their parents relationship and felt they grew up in the “all-American family”. For these kids, the news of an impending divorce can be a complete surprise.

Cynicism – Another common reaction is for college aged kids to become cynical about their own relationships, especially romantic relationships. They think, “If I thought my parents were fine, what else do I not know?”

Armed with knowledge about common reactions, there are steps you can take to ease this transition for your kids.

Plan the conversation – Don’t call your child at college and don’t tell them over the holidays. If possible, find a break when they will be home and you can all sit down and have the conversation. Do not blame the other spouse and recognize that this will be upsetting. “We have decided to get divorced. We realized we have been fighting a lot and can no longer live together. We understand that even though you no longer live at home, this will affect you and you will have lots of questions and feelings that we can talk about.”
Minimize the conflict – Consider using Collaborative Divorce or Mediation to have a divorce process that supports putting your kids’ needs first and address your child’s concerns, such as college tuition, directly and honestly.

Don’t confide in your child – Even though your child is of adult age, they still need to be kept out of the middle of your divorce. Confide in your friends or see a therapist so that your child doesn’t get caught in the middle.

Maintain relationships with both parents – This is still really important, although it will no longer be court-ordered in a visitation schedule like it is for young kids. Encourage your child to spend time with your ex-spouse and don’t say negative things about them.

Remember that your college aged child is adjusting to a lot at this stage of life, including living on their own for the first time. Being thoughtful about the announcement and process of divorce will ease the transition for your child and allow them to focus on creating their own life instead of taking care of yours.

Transitional Assistance

For parents who need to find new housing as a result of separation or divorce, Colorado provides many resources to help renters and homebuyers.

The Colorado Division of Housing offers a Housing Choice Voucher program to help families access affordable housing. Tenants receive funding based on their income and can choose any type of housing including apartments, townhomes and single-family homes.

The Colorado Housing Assistance Corporation (CHAC) provides support for homebuyers, especially first time homebuyers, and helping residents prevent foreclosure on their current properties. Their mission is to help make home ownership affordable to those with low to moderate incomes.

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) offers home purchase and refinance loans, down payment assistance, closing cost assistance and homebuyer education classes.

In-home care, in which your child’s caretaker comes to your home, is in many ways the most convenient for parents. In-home sitters range from trained nannies, who may have training in child development and first aid, to women who, although not trained formally, have had many years’ experience caring for children, including their own. Or you might opt for an au pair, a young person, usually a woman in her early twenties, often from abroad, who lives with your family.

You can advertise for a nanny or sitter in your local paper or on community bulletin boards, or you can register with an agency. Word-of-mouth, however, is often the best source. Ask everyone you meet who has had a sitter; someone whose child no longer needs full-time care may be delighted to have a sitter she values highly go directly to another family. Good sources for finding sitters who are no longer needed by a family include local nursery schools. Many parents post the names and numbers of their sitters who are soon to need new jobs.

When you interview a prospective sitter, be prepared with your questions; have them written down, since it’s easy to forget what you wanted to ask. Request proof of identity, current address, and names and phone numbers of references. Check the references, making sure to ask why the sitter is no longer working for that family and whether the former employers would hire the sitter again. Following are questions to ask the sitter that will help you evaluate her as a potential caregiver:

  • What kind of childcare experience has she had? Ask her to explain the best and worst experiences. The details can be telling.
  • What is her attitude about working mothers? Does she approve of mothers leaving their infants with others?
  • How does she handle issues of discipline? Be specific. Ask her what she would do if your baby cried for an hour or more. What if your toddler was defiant or inattentive to her? What if your child broke her watch or another prized possession?
  • How does she feel about TV? Would she watch TV herself while your child was playing or napping? Would she offer television as a regular activity?
  • How does she feel about the rules you’ve set for the children? If her philosophy differs from yours, can she comfortably follow your standards?
  • How much does she like to mingle with other sitters, parents, and kids? Does she enjoy taking the kids outdoors to play?
  • What does she know about good nutrition? Does she limit snacks to good-for-you foods?
  • Find out what she would do in an emergency such as your child suddenly becoming ill or a fire in the building.

Take the following steps to assure your child’s safety and your sitter’s safety as well.

Take her through the entire house including the basement, and explain the security system, if you have one, in detail. Point out the location of anything she may need to know, such as the cabinet where you store extra light bulbs.

Write down your address and directions to your house. This is crucial if she has to give instructions to help locate your home in an emergency.

Discuss your fire and other emergency evacuation plans. Be sure she understands that her first responsibility is the children, and that she should get them out immediately in the event of fire or to the safest place in the house during a storm. Go over the escape route, all exits from the house, and how the locks work, and point out potential hazards.

Show her the location of key light switches and circuit breakers or fuse boxes in the event of a power outage. Keep a box with a flashlight, battery-operated radio, candles, matches, blankets, and bottled water in the house and tell the sitter where it is.

Post emergency numbers, numbers where you and your spouse can be reached at all times, numbers of your child’s doctor, numbers of trusted friends, neighbors, and relatives she can contact in an emergency.

Care.com is a commonly used website to find babysitters, or you can ask trusted family and friends for recommended babysitters or child care providers they use. If you will be taking your child to an early childhood center, you can use this checklist to make sure the facility meets your needs. If you need help finding a childcare facility near you, visit the Colorado Shines Childcare Directory.

If you need financial support for childcare, you can apply for child care assistance through the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) if you are eligible (low income families who are working, seeking employment or participating in training or education).

If you have lost health insurance coverage as a result of your divorce, you may be eligible to shop for a new insurance plan outside of the open enrollment period. If your employer doesn’t offer health insurance benefits, you may shop for a health plan through the state health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado.

Depending on your income level, you may be eligible to enroll in Health First Colorado, which is Colorado’s medicaid program. Health First Colorado has year round open enrollment, meaning you can apply for the program at any time based on your income level. To find a health provider near you, click here.

To find health insurance resources for your children, click here.

Going from a dual income to a single income can have a significant impact on your budget. Researchers estimate divorcing individuals would need more than a 30% increase in income, on average, to maintain the same standard of living they had prior to their divorce. About one in five women fall into poverty as a result of divorce. Three out of four divorced mothers don’t receive full payment of child support. Most men experience a loss in their standard of living in the years after a divorce, as well, a loss generally about 10%–40%, depending on circumstances (cite)

It’s best to begin with a basic budget template, which you can download here, to assess your current income and expenses. While most budget templates will be fairly basic, you can also reference this example that includes a budget worksheet and questions to consider specifically for individuals getting ready for divorce.

Once you’ve developed a basic budget, there are lots of financial apps to keep yourself on track and resources to learn about financial literacy to achieve your financial goals. There are even financial tools to support divorced families, such as ExExpense, a family expense tracking and management tool for divided households. The tools helps keep track of and document any shared expenses between co-parents.

If you have experienced domestic violence, there are programs that can help. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911.

 

 

If you are struggling with substance abuse issues, there are a number of resources available to help.

 

Colorado Works is the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program that helps participants become self-sufficient by strengthening their family’s economic and social stability. The program is available in all Colorado counties and is delivered through local departments of human or social services. To apply, submit this application to your local county office.

The state also offers the Colorado Program Eligibility and Application Kit (PEAK), an online service for eligible Coloradans to apply for the following services:

  • Food assistance
  • Cash assistance
  • Medical assistance
  • Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Child Care Assistance
  • Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY)
  • Parents as Teachers (PAT)
  • Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) for first-time moms
  • Head Start
  • Healthy Steps
  • School Nutrition Programs
  • Preschool Special Education
  • Early Intervention Colorado for Infants, Toddlers and Families (EI Colorado)
  • Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)
  • SafeCare Colorado

Other assistance resources available to families include tax help, and families in the Denver Metro Area can participate in the C.A.R.E. Program which provides on-site resources and assistance for basic and emergency needs such as bus tickets, food certificates, motel and hotel vouchers, car seats, hygiene products, snacks, water and clothing.

Career Assitance

When developing your resume, you need to gather information on the dates of previous employment, accomplishments for each position, and current references. It can be helpful to get feedback from someone to ensure overall effectiveness and clarity of information. Resumes should also be tailored to each job you apply to make sure the required job qualifications stand out on each version. Fore more resources, visit the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for more guidance and resume templates to download.

Colorado Workforce Centers provide a variety of free services to assist job seekers including but not limited to job listings, computer and internet access, and career counseling and training. Training can include apprenticeships and grants to pursue educational opportunities. Career Services Specialists at your local Workforce Center can walk you through a skills assessment to learn what type of career or occupation is a good fit for your skillset. Visit their website for a list of locations, hours and contact information.

The Connecting Colorado website is part of a state and county-run system for job seekers and employers. You can post your resume, apply for a specific job, or do a self-directed job search through their database.

If you need extra coaching and personalized support during the job search process, visit the Colorado Career Development Association for a list of career counseling and coaching services. If you are in need of professional clothing for job interviews, Dress for Success provides professional attire for women and the Denver Rescue Mission also provides gently used work clothes for men and women.

Support Groups and Mental Health Services

Going through a divorce can bring up many feelings of anger, sadness, grief, regret, and fear of the unknown and transition, among others. If you are struggling to cope with emotions, know that it is completely normal to grieve the ending a relationship that had been a key part of your life up until now. There is no set timeline for healing and coping, so take the time you need and get the help you need.

Shannon Harrison, therapist, explains how no one plans to get a divorce, and you have no idea how it will affect you. “Be incredibly gentle with yourself,” she said. “If you feel like taking a nap, take a nap, or if you feel like going for a walk, then go for a walk … this is a place you haven’t ever been. You should give yourself a lot of space and listen to your body.”

Find Community: Feeling like you are a part of something can drastically improve your mental health. If you’ve always wanted to try a certain hobby, now is the time to do it! Throw yourself into something, discover new things about yourself, or revisit passions you’ve forgotten. Take a free class at your local community center or university, join a sports league or volunteer. Find a place where you can truly feel like yourself and can think about something other than your divorce.

Physical Health: It’s common for those going through life challenges to have chest pains, stomach aches, and other pains. Your body can sense when you aren’t mentally healthy. Physical pain and tiredness are often the result. The same areas of the brain that is activated when you feel physical pain is also activated when you feel emotional pain. Strive to be healthy mentally and physically.

Physical Exercise: Physical exercise can be beneficial to release endorphins and fight stress. Consider joining a gym or taking daily walks. Find some type of movement that you enjoy. A good habit is trying to set aside 20-30 minutes each day to be active, whether it’s lifting weights, playing a sport, running, riding a bike, or yoga.

Healthy Eating: Physical health isn’t just about being active, it’s also about maintaining a healthy diet. Making the effort to cook and buy healthy foods may seem like an inconvenience when dealing with your divorce, but it has a profound impact on your overall health. Try to eat three meals a day, drink plenty of water, and reach for brain-boosting foods such as leafy greens, whole grains, and fruit, over salty snacks and sugary sweets. Trust us, your body and your mind will thank you.

Spiritual Health: If you believe in a higher power, spending more time in prayer can be refreshing when going through a divorce. Make it a priority to go to a place of worship and connect with people who can uplift you. If organized religion isn’t for you, make it a point to tap into your spirituality by setting aside time to meditate. Even taking time to do something that helps you free your mind of stress and worry, whether it’s writing in a journal or reading a book, can help you reconnect with your spiritual side.

Finding Comfort in Your Divorce: Looking back on your relationship and recognizing that it was unhealthy and it didn’t serve you well can put your emotions at ease. Without anger, try to consider the more difficult times and how a divorce can be freeing and the right thing for both of you. Maybe you’ve found hope in being yourself and having the freedom to be happy in life. Maybe your divorce is better for your children than being in a hostile environment with unhappy parents. One day, you might even find a new partner who is invested in being in a happy and mutually beneficial relationship. Rather than holding on to the past with grudges against your former spouse, look at your divorce as an opportunity to live for yourself and look forward to your future.

Talking about your feelings in a safe place can keep you from internalizing stress and hurt. Speaking with a friend, family member, or a therapist is part of the healing process and can help you cope with the end of your relationship. When you hold in your feelings and isolate yourself from those you love, you can increase your stress levels, make it harder to concentrate, and allow your divorce to get in the way of your life at work and home. It can be incredibly helpful to have at least one person you trust and can talk with if you are initially uncomfortable in a group setting, whether that’s someone you know personally or a licensed therapist that you seek out. You can find a list of divorce therapists in Colorado here. Mental Health Colorado also provides a comprehensive list of resources if you are or a family member is in need of additional support or someone to talk to.

If you are struggling with anger, you may want to ask yourself some of the following questions to see if you have an anger management problem. Based on your results, you may want to talk to a licensed therapist to find strategies for managing anger in effective ways.

If you are feeling lost, remember you aren’t alone in going through your divorce. Draw upon and band together with others who have experienced or are currently going through a divorce and understand what you’re feeling. Create or find an open, honest community where you can voice your feelings, but also listen to the problems others are facing. This open conversation is key to realizing and remembering that you aren’t alone in your experience. A support group can validate your emotions and help you realize there are others going through the exact same situation as you are. Not only can your support group aid in normalizing your feelings, but they can be a powerful resource to get through the complexities that come with divorce. (cite)

 

• Do I lose my temper easily and quickly? Do small things set me off such as a text from my ex, children running around the house or spilling my coffee? Do I have a low tolerance for frustration? Is it difficult for me to take things in stride?
• Do I show inconsistent behavior that is intimidating to others? Is my behavior so unpredictable that one minute I’m feeling good — and the next I become explosive?
• Are family and friends afraid of me? Do they often tell me to calm down? Do people say they “walk on egg shells” around me? Do they avoid giving me bad news for fear of my reaction?
• Have I hurt people close to me because of my anger? Have I lost friends, family or even my job because of my outbursts? Do people distance themselves from being close to me?
• Have I tried to control my anger, but failed? Am I unable to control how I react to my ex, even though I have tried several different approaches?
• Do I find myself explaining or justifying my aggressive behavior toward my ex or the kids? Do I usually blame them for enticing or provoking me to anger?
• Is it difficult to express myself without cursing, swearing and blaming? Am I defensive when talking about the divorce and usually believe the problem “isn’t about me — it’s them”?
• Does anger cause me to become destructive? Do I frequently break things or become violent towards family members or friends? Do I pound on the table, punch a door or throw things to make a point? Have I hit, bit, pushed or forcibly held my ex because of my rage?
• Does my anger spiral out of control? Once I get angry, is it difficult for me to de-escalate? Does it seem to take over and take a while before I can settle down?
• Do I have difficulties with authority figures and the courts? Do I purposefully refuse to complete assignments or follow directions, as a sign of rebellion?
• Do I frequently argue at home? Is it difficult for me to have a conversation without getting angry? Do I get upset when others disagree with me? Do I believe others have the power to make me feel stupid or inadequate?
• Is my body language intense? Do I communicate with clenched fists, a tightened jaw and a glaring stare?

These are all signs of anger management issues that need to be addressed. Divorcing parents who have been ordered by a judge to take an anger management course can now take these classes online. There are eight and twelve-hour courses available that provide the tools, skills and strategies to change our state of mind, perceive circumstances differently, catch ourselves before our anger explodes, harness our anger in more productive directions and create more inner peace in our lives. Those who haven’t been court ordered to take such a course will still benefit from learning these skills. Mastering them will not only make life more rewarding, it will improve relationships with our children as well as our ex and other family members — bringing more acceptance and respect from them.

Co-parenting after divorce is always challenging. Bringing emotional baggage from the past into play through angry displays, intimidation or violence will deliver dire consequences in the courts and legal system, not to mention severed relationships with our children. Parents who learn to control their anger and make better choices when emotionally charged enjoy the privileges of co-parenting more affectively and successfully. They discover how to still get their needs met, but without the struggle, turmoil and negative outcomes.

Anger management courses are available in many communities, as well as online. An internet search using the terms anger management and your city should deliver numerous results. Making the investment in ourselves will reap rewards that will pay off for a lifetime!

Co-parenting

When filing for legal separation or divorce with children in the marriage, you are required to complete a parenting plan that outlines the following information:

    • Allocation of parenting responsibilities and decision-making
    • Parenting time and scheduling for the school year and summer, including transportation and drop-off/pickup arrangements
    • Holiday planning
    • Relocation plans
    • Financial Obligations and child support agreements
    • Medical, dental, vision and mental health financial agreements
    • School, sports and extracurricular financial agreements
    • Child tax exemption, as only one parent may claim a deduction for each child on his or her income tax return

If you separate quickly, you may need to create a temporary Parenting Plan at first to make sure you and your ex-spouse are in agreement for what to do in case of an emergency. Over time, the two of you will complete a Permanent Parenting Plan to submit to a judge, though it should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that all of the information is correct.

Co-parenting means that both parents play an active role in their children’s day to day lives. The key to the success of co-parenting arrangements is how well the parents function. What works best for some single parents may not work well for others. Talk with other single parents for ideas. Then decide on the best parenting arrangement for you, your former spouse and your children. Co-parenting will not work if there is a history of addiction, family violence or other circumstance that would limit a parent’s functioning. Studies show that some benefits of co-parenting include:

  • Both parents and children can learn effective ways to communicate.
  • Both parents recognize and respond to their children’s needs.
  • Children develop feelings of stability.
  • Children continue relationships with both parents.
  • Children are less likely to feel divided loyalties, abandoned, or that they have to meet the social and emotional needs of their parents.

Parents must decide what aspects of parenting to share. This often depends on custody arrangements and the ability to discuss issues with a former spouse without conflict and in a businesslike way.

Think about:

  • What decisions need to be made
  • How you will make the decisions
  • How and when you will talk to your ex-spouse
  • How you will arrange and share schedules
  • Who will arrange caregiving when neither parent is available
  • How you will handle discipline
  • What will happen in an emergency

Children can adjust to a variety of living patterns, including living in two homes. How well children adjust depends on whether parents can minimize their conflicts, stop arguing and focus on their children’s needs. When parents can’t agree, tell the children that there will be separate rules in each home. It may be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that your children need you to be a strong, positive influence in their lives.

As part of your Parenting Plan you are likely going to be required to complete a parenting or co-parenting class satisfy legal requirements of divorce. Eligible classes are designated at the county level, which you can find and download here.

Online classes may also be an option and can be effective prior to mediation and ideal for divorce, separation or never married couples who have been court mandated to attend a co-parenting program. It is also helpful for those interested in improving personal skills, and growing as a parent. Classes are intended to focus on children and help them successfully transition during your divorce or separation. All parent education classes are designed to meet court-ordered co-parent education requirements, but it’s best to check with the court prior to completing an online class to ensure it meets necessary requirements for your county. (Online Parenting Programs)

Resolve conflicts without putting kids in the middle. This requires being objective about your children’s needs (and not confusing them with your own) and compromising when the situation warrants. Stick with a conflict until it’s resolved; don’t let a problem fester and then punish the other parent passive-aggressively or be difficult in unrelated situations

Treat the other parent with respect. This goes a long way toward easing your relations with your former partner. It also provides a good model for your children; more than we are willing to admit, our children imitate our behavior. Disrespect toward the other parent will be played out by the child. It’s important for a child’s healthy development to have respect for authority figures, including both parents

Observe appropriate boundaries. When it comes to your kids, it’s sometimes difficult to tell yourself what they’re doing with the other parent “is none of my business.” But if an activity won’t harm them physically or psychologically, it probably is none of your business. Recognize it’s okay, maybe even good, for children to learn different ways of doing things. It’s almost certain that the other parent won’t do everything your way.

Communicate regularly with the other parent. There’s lots to share. When children are small, the other parent needs to know the basics when parenting responsibilities are being transferred. Has the child eaten? Gone to the bathroom recently? Does he or she need more sleep or a bath? When children are older, both parents need to know about school activities, sports events and trips out of town. It’s good to get into a regular habit of checking in with each other on the days when parenting is shared. A worst-possible scenario is that lack of communication could lead to a child not being picked up after school or day care, or important medical treatment being disrupted.

Demonstrate positive conflict resolution. Don’t try to hide conflicts when they arise. Children generally know more about what’s going on than we give them credit for. Use conflict as an opportunity to show kids how to resolve issues in a responsible manner. Paul puts it this way: “Don’t step into the ring without taking time to cool off.

Share with your co-parent what you need from him or her to do a good job of parenting. In our case, a regular schedule is important to Paul. He likes to know he has time he can count on with his son, Frequent schedule changes are disruptions he finds particularly irritating, especially when it involves “telephone tag.” I like to know I can depend on Paul to pick up Nick when he says he will. Everyone has different requirements for support. Be sure to be clear with the other parent about yours, and take time to inquire about his or hers. In our experience, guessing hasn’t been very productive.

Don’t allow all of the parenting tasks to fall to one parent. Typically, things that are out of balance don’t work well. Work at sharing parenting chores as equally as possible. Don’t hoard tasks and act like a martyr, and don’t expect the other parent to be in charge of all of the communicating, all of the extra purchases for your child or all of the discipline.

Be consistent – to the extent possible – in disciplining, feeding and caring for your child. This makes transitions from one household to another easier, thus minimizing the outbursts from children after visits with the other parent. Respect each other’s parenting approaches, and recognize that while consistency is optimal, differences are okay. Children are able to distinguish that something that’s okay at Dad’s house may not be okay at Morn’s, not because one parent is bad or wrong, but because the two parents are different.

Help your children recognize the other parent with appropriate gifts or cards. These express your children’s sentiments and make them feel good about themselves when they’re praised for their thoughtfulness. Take the time to help your children make or pick out holiday and birthday gifts for the other parent. Recognizing Mother’s and Father’s Day are particularly important because other relatives aren’t involved in celebrating these days.

Don’t punish your in-laws by keeping your kids from them after a divorce. Your in-laws are probably as disappointed as you and your former partner about the dissolution of your relationship. Grandparents can be a child’s greatest cheerleaders; don’t hurt your children and yourself by cutting off visits with them. In many cases, grandparents also provide back-up child care; this-isn’t something any single parent should give up willingly

Children Section


With the changes that come from parents separating or divorcing also comes the need to create structure and set new or reinforce existing ground rules and expectations for your child. Setting expectations and rules may feel counterintuitive after going through the hardships of divorce, but with structure comes the opportunity to thrive for children especially. We also encourage you to write out your plans together with your child, whether for the week or month ahead, or just what you are going to do that day. This shows them you are accountable and will stay true to your word during a time full of instability and uncertainty for your child.

Just as we outlined parents’ rights in divorce, children also have rights that need to be considered to help them feel loved and supported throughout the process.

CHILDREN’S RIGHTS


Just as we outlined parents’ rights in divorce, children also have rights that need to be considered to help them feel loved and supported throughout the process.

The right to love and be loved by both of your parents without feeling guilt or
disapproval.

The right to be protected from your parents’ anger with each other.
The right to be kept out of the middle of your parents’ conflict, including the
right not to pick sides, carry messages, or hear complaints about the other
parent.

The right not to have to choose one of your parents over the other.
The right not to have to be responsible for the burden of either of your parents’
emotional problems.

The right to know well in advance about important changes that will affect your
life; for example, when one of your parents is going to move or get remarried.
The right to reasonable financial support during your childhood and through
your college years.

The right to have feelings, to express your feelings, and to have both parents
listen to how you feel.

The right to have a life that is a close as possible to what it would have been if
your parents stayed together.

The right to be a kid.

Creating structure, expectations, and ground rules

For children living life on the fly isn’t so easy, especially when Mom and Dad live in different homes. Two homes involve juggling a schedule that may or may not be predictable, dealing with different parenting styles, different rules, different places, different people and different ways of being a family.

In addition to dealing with a multitude of differences, shifting back and forth between homes has the potential to create some serious emotional angst for kids.  Johnny comes back from Dad’s bouncing off the walls and testing limits, while Melanie spirals into a never-ending whine fest after being with Mom for the weekend. The outcome is you get stuck picking up the pieces and trying to get life back on track. The worst part—it starts all over again the next time they leave.

  • Help your child clearly understand your expectations of his/her behavior.
  • Discuss consequences of misbehavior before it occurs. Have the child help set the
    consequence.
  • Give praise often so your child knows how well he/she is doing.
  • Realize problems can be expected when your child is hungry, bored, tired, or
    frustrated.
  • Give your child safe choices.
  • Don’t wait to deal with your child until you have been pushed past your limit.
  • Teach your child appropriate behavior by modeling appropriate behavior.
    Understand that misbehavior is often a sign of an unmet need. Look deep and recognize the cause ofthe misbehavior and deal with that also.
  • Step in immediately if a child is harming him/herself or others.
  • Let your child know why he/she is being disciplined.
  • Be consistent in disciplining your child to avoid confusion. It is helpful for both parents to agree on discipline styles and expectations.
  • If you and the mother disagree on discipline styles and expectations, help your child understand and adjust to the inconsistencies. Explain that in the “real world” there can be different expectations and standards.
  • Use calm, positive words instead of threatening language.
  • Be sure consequences fit the behavior and that they are realistic and enforceable.

1. Children tend to function best when they know what to expect. Moving between Mom’s house and Dad’s house literally feels like transitioning between two worlds whether it is every other week or once a month. When kids don’t have an opportunity to regroup often their anxiety levels go through the roof.  Kids will manage those feelings by acting them out; regression, yelling, disrespect, blatant misbehavior…you name it and if it is at this transition time they need your guidance.

2. To offset transitional stress kids need predictability and emotional space. One way you can help kids cope is by creating a consistent environment that helps children shift gears more easily. For example, pick up and drop off occurs at the homes or school. Avoid public places which can add to kids guilt and shame about the divorce.

3. Pay attention to when your kids are having a difficult time shifting gears.  For some it may be that the anxiety hits right before leaving your home, for other kids it could be when they return after spending time with the other parent. It can also be helpful to notice what other contributing factors are at work. For instance, do your children react the same way every time they come back from spending time with Dad or only after they’ve been away for a weekend?  Does where make a difference? Do they respond differently when Mom picks them up from school as opposed to your house?

4. Create a transition ritual. It involves forming a structured and predictable environment for your child every time they enter or leave your home.  Example: say Natalie goes into meltdown mode every time Mom drops her off for the weekend. One way Dad could help Natalie is by choosing an activity they could do together as soon as she crosses his threshold.  Perhaps Natalie loves to color and draw.  When Natalie arrives she and Dad could spend 30 minutes coloring together.  While coloring, they could chat about Natalie’s week with Mom and what the rest of the weekend with Dad will look like.  Natalie has a chance to decompress and Dad has a way to help Natalie transition into their routine. Keep in mind it’s best if the activity matches your children’s personality and energy level.  For active kids, you might consider going for a walk around the block, shooting hoops or playing in the backyard.  Kids who are more low-key might do better engaging in an activity like drawing, putting a puzzle together, reading a book or playing a game.  For older children, mealtimes can be a special way of gathering.

5. Stay consistent. To see the benefits of structuring transitions it’s important to stay consistent. Be sure to plan by scheduling an adequate amount of time. Further do your best to engage children in the ritual every single time or at least until you see some significant changes in how they are handling things. Whatever you choose to do with your kids, do your best to keep it relaxing, tension free and enjoyable. Not only will transitions smooth out, but you may also discover some treasured memories get created along the way.

It’s also important to consider the different elements of a positive parent-child relationship and how your actions can show your child you care, push them in a positive way to continuously improve, help them achieve their goals, treat them with respect and connect them with people and places to broaden their horizon. Download the framework and action steps here.

One area that is especially important to set boundaries and ground rules is with the internet, partly because it is rapidly changing and growing and issues arise before we can even think them possible. Depending on the age of your child, it may be important to set ground rules for internet use with a family contract. Use the example here as a starting place.

Education


For many children, school is the one place that provides them with structure, consistency and a space relatively free from family-related turmoil. For others, it is one of the only places where children feel as if they have some control over their lives. For most, it is the place they spend the most extended time with any adult. At all grade levels, the school environment and the professionals in it have a significant role in the lives of these children. For some children, their comfort and freedom at school may result in top notch academic performance or involvement in extracurricular activities. For others, school becomes a place to act out their inner turmoil through behavioral and academic difficulties. Teachers and other educators are in a unique position to understand children caught in custody disputes and to support them as they experience these unusual emotional pressures in daily living (cite).

As a parent, we highly recommend getting to know your child’s teachers and other school staff, and while not necessarily airing all of your relationship details with them, being open about where you are in the divorce process and how you perceive it to be impacting your child. You, your co-parent and your child’s teacher can all be a great team in advocating for the best interests of your child if you keep those lines of communication open.

It is also important to discuss divorce with your child’s school so that you can set expectations regarding school communication. Both parents should receive communication from the school with updates about their child, school newsletters, access to school portals, notices of upcoming events, and report cards. Both parents should be listed as emergency contacts, or match emergency protocol outlined in your Co-Parenting Plan. Even after these initial conversations with teachers and school administrators, make sure that you stay actively involved in your child’s education by helping with homework on a regular basis and attending school events when possible.

If your child has not yet entered school or you are looking to make a change, it can be helpful to know your options about the types of schools in Colorado. Colorado offers a school of choice program to support the expansion of quality education choices for Colorado families. This means that families can apply to any public school in their district, even if it’s not their neighborhood school, and choice in. The Colorado Department of Education oversees three types of public schools – traditional, innovation and charter schools. While all three receive public funding for their schools, innovation and charter schools have more individual school autonomy in how funds are used and flexibility in their approaches to learning. You can learn more about education issues in Colorado through the Colorado Parent Magazine.

You can learn more about each type of school on the Colorado Department of Education – Schools of Choice Office website. If you would like to learn more about the Colorado school choice and open enrollment law, you can download a fact sheet here. If you are interested in private school options in Colorado, visit the Association of Colorado Independent Schools. Greatschools.org is also a great resource providing parents with information on school ratings and quality to ensure they find a school that is the best fit for their child and family.

If your child is struggling in school, they may need some additional support in certain subjects. Begin by asking your child’s teacher or school administrators what programs they offer for support in certain subjects. You can also set up personalized tutoring or academic coaching through a program such as Sylvan Learning Centers or Lively Minds Tutoring.

Health And Wellness

If you don’t have established medical providers for yourself and/or your child, or if you have recently moved and need new providers in your new town, city or state, now is a great time to find those providers. The below resources are specific to Colorado, and in addition to the lists provided, we recommend asking trusted friends, family, and even visiting a review site such as Yelp or Emily’s List to gain a better sense of recommended providers. Some action steps you can take include learning about the health, growth and development of your child and staying up to date on current health and wellness trends in Colorado through the Colorado Parent Magazine.

If your child needs health insurance coverage, the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) is a publish low cost insurance provider for children of families whose income is too high to qualify for Health First Colorado (the state Medicaid plan), but don’t earn enough to pay for private insurance.
If you need health insurance coverage for yourself, visit out Self-Insurance section.

In case of an emergency, you’ll always want to begin by calling 911. However, it’s good to know where nearby hospitals and urgent care locations are so that you know where to go when your child is sick and needs attention immediately. Make sure your co-parenting plan outlines protocols and responsibilities for how to address medical emergencies for your child.

If your child has a chronic disease, or even just allergies, make sure you consider how their ongoing care needs will be addressed in both households. Here are some of the questions you and your co-parent may want to discuss and document if applicable:

  • Where will medicine be stored? How will your child transport medicine between households?
  • Which parent is in charge of medical decisions? If both parents need to sign off on medical decisions, how will that communication be handled in case of an emergency?
  • Which extended family and/or friends can give your child medicine?

Make sure you are prepared to perform basic first aid and CPR at home or any other time you are with your child, and have a basic kit at home to respond to minor injuries and illnesses.

Mental Health and Coping


According to a study reported on in the New York Times, “It is no small question. The nation’s divorce rate reached record levels in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. “During that time, the article continues “a quarter of all Americans age 18 to 35 were barely 16 years old when they went through one of life’s most painful experiences — their parents’ divorce.

The study “highlights the many ways that divorce shapes the emotional tenor of childhood.”
The article goes on to say that about half of those from divorced families agreed that they had a “harder childhood that most people,” compared with 14 percent from married families.

“The effects of divorce may not seem so important in a hard-nosed statistical analysis of outcomes, but in a subjective way, they may be very important,” said Andrew Cherlin, a family demographer at Johns Hopkins University. “Many adults with very successful lives still carry the residual trauma of their parents’ breakup.”

Kids 24/7 supports families going through this very difficult time to see them through with the tools necessary to traverse the often rocky and uncertain terrain of divorce.

Help your child identify their feelings and validate their emotions – it’s a difficult time and we can’t expect our children to handle challenges perfectly every day, especially when such an important part of their life – their parents – feels in flux. Below are some suggested activities and strategies to help your child cope with their feelings. The age ranges are suggestions, but you as a parent know best what will and won’t resonate for your child.

Resources for your child: Help your child identify their feeling, and validate their emotions. Make sure to talk with and show your child ways they can deal with their anger in healthy ways.
Insert Coping skills wheel image.

Resources for your pre-teen or teen: While your teen may not be as inclined to talk through all of their feelings with you, it’s still important to acknowledge their emotions and feelings and make sure they have positive tools to help them cope. Below are workbooks and handouts for kids to work through, either with a parent or independently.

All Ages: Regardless of your child’s age, encourage them to think through activities that make them calm or happy to use when things are feeling stressful or difficult. You can download and print the resources below, or make you own list to keep as a reminder in your own home.

If your child needs additional one-on-one support from someone, you can seek out a counselor or therapist in your area who specializes in working with children and divorce.

Similar to the way support groups can be beneficial for parents going through divorce, programs for kids, like the High 5 program from Kids 24/7, can help kids manage the stress and anxiety that comes with significant family changes.

Research shows that kids of divorce, without support, experience depression and intense stress, face shame, guilt and fear, have behavior issues, academic problems, are more likely to participate in high-risk substance and sexual behavior. They are also at a higher rate for abuse and 50% move into poverty following the separation.

Additionally, “36% of mental health problems in early adulthood, 30% of teen pregnancies, and 23% of school dropouts could be prevented by eliminating the negative effects of divorce.” according to unpublished 2006 raw data by Wolchik S., MacKinnon D, Sandler.

According to the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology & The Journal of Primary Prevention . . .”In one experimental and multiple quasi-experimental trials, CODIP(Children of Divorce Intervention Program) has been shown to reduce a range of adjustment problems (e.g., anxiety, classroom problems) and improve divorce-related perceptions. Positive effects emerged for children in kindergarten through sixth grade and in suburban and urban populations. The effects were maintained two years after participation. CSG has shown positive preventive and treatment effects on self-esteem, social skills and adjustment problems in two quasi-experimental trials with children and early adolescents.”

Kids 24/7 offers a CODIP based curriculum for its High 5 Groups. Lauren, age 10, attended a recent four-session High 5 Group and says…“These activities that we have been doing in class really help us let out our anger.” We really do have fun at High 5, but tell a child that they are going to class to talk about their feelings and you are met with an definite “NO!” Who likes to talk about their stuff? Even adults shy away from it.

The unique thing about the High 5 Groups is that while we talk about family changes and challenges of divorce or separation, kids see that they are NOT ALONE. This, in and of itself, is the most amazing realization. They form friendships with kids their own age who are experiencing the same things in life that they are. How cool is that?

Stay tuned to meet another kid of High 5 and hear what they have to say!

Engagement

When family dynamics change, it’s important to stay connected with your child so they know they are still loved and cared for in the midst of a divorce or separation. This is especially true for parents who don’t see their children every day. Some ideas to stay connected even when you are apart from one another can include:

  • Sending your child a photograph of a special moment when the two of you were together
  • Sending your child a photograph of where you live, especially if it’s in a different state or country
  • Send your child their favorite book, or a book personalized with their name.
  • Record yourself reading your child’s favorite book so you can read aloud to your child from afar
  • Send your child letters with little surprises included such as stickers, artwork that you created, or a newspaper or magazine article they might find interesting.
  • Make and send a card for all big holidays and events such as birthdays and graduations.
  • When you are together with your child, asking them specific questions to get to know them and their world better is a great way to engage and show them that you care.

When you are together with your child, asking them specific questions to get to know them and their world better is a great way to engage and show them that you care.

How well do you know your child? Here are a few questions to help you know your child
better:

  • Who are your child’s male/female heroes?
  • What is beautiful about being a member of his/her cultural group?
  • What are your child’s most treasured possessions?
  • Who are your child’s closest friends?
  • What causes your child the greatest stress?
  • What was your child’s most prized accomplishment this past year?
  • What was your child’s biggest discouragement this past year?
  • What are your child’s “favorites” – favorite color, favorite food, favorite movie, favorite book…?
  • What member of your extended family does your child like the most?
  • Ask your child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
  • Give your child the opportunity to learn more about his/her interests.
  • What college does your child want to attend?
  • What is something that really upsets your child?
  • If your child had $20 to spend, what would he/she buy?
  • What does your child like to do with you?
  • What is the most important thing you need to discuss with your child in the next six months?
In addition to questions, sometimes kids just need to hear words of encouragement from you.

10 Encouraging Things to say to your kids today! Sometimes all it takes to encourage a child is to say a few simple words. When a parent looks their child in the eye and says just a few words, it can make all the difference to them in that moment and maybe for a lifetime. Use these encouraging phrases everyday. Kids remember consistency, no matter how small, and overtime these simple phrases will not only encourage your child, they will open the door to build a better relationship between the two of you.

  1. I love you.
  2. You are enough.
  3. You are important.
  4. I believe in you.
  5. That’s a great question.
  6. It’s good to be curious.
  7. Your words matter.
  8. I see you thinking it through.
  9. You are valuable.
  10. I am listening.

For more ideas, download this comprehensive list of things to say and do to admire your children.

Communication Strategies

Getting your kids to open up can be challenging. It becomes much easier to encourage dialog is to make a habit of cherishing daily conversations with your kids. Conversations build connection. When children feel connected to their parent, they are more likely to feel well, engage with you and be cooperative.

The more our children feel they can talk to us about the little things, the more likely they will be to open up about the bigger issues.

We give our children an amazing gift by being simply present when they talk to us. When we withhold judgement and just listen to our children with the intent to discover, support and connect, magic happens!

To raise resilient, happy children, It’s important to listen to our children often. Being invited into the child’s world allows us to be helpful and supportive parents.

  • If you wrote a book, what would you name the main character & where would he go?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • If you could design a t-shirt, what would you draw or write on it?
  • What was your favorite part of your day/school/activity…?
  • What is your favorite memory about being ___ years old?
  • If the story of YOU became a movie, how would the movie end?
  • Do you have any jokes to tell me?
  • What’s the funniest thing you saw today/this week?
  • How would you describe a perfect day for you?
  • If we had an airplane to take us on vacation right now, where would you want to go?
  • If we could go to (insert name of favorite place) but couldn’t use a car to get there, how do you think we could get there?
  • If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, where would you go to get it and what would it be?
  • If you could change anything about school what would it be?
  • If you could change anything in the world, what would you change and how?
  • Who is your favorite tv/book/story character and what do you like about him/her?
  • If you could eat lunch with (insert favorite character’s name) where would you go and what would you eat together?
  • If you could wake up tomorrow with a superpower, what superpower would you have?
  • If you could have any 3 wishes granted, what would they be?
  • If all your clothes could only be one color, what color would you choose?
  • If you could change the lunch menu at (school/home) what would you change?
  • If you could change your name, would you want to & what name would you choose?
  • What are you proudest of in your life?
  • Where is your favorite place to be?
  • What is something you never thought you could tell me but maybe want to tell me now?
  • Is there anything you have always wanted to ask me but didn’t? Want to ask me now?
  • What is your biggest dream?
  • What is your biggest worry?
Making sure you take the time to really listen to what your child is saying is one of the most effective ways to stay engaged and know what is going on. Parents can be better listeners by:

  • Using active listening: when you really tries to understand the message of your child by giving your full, respectful attention and avoid making judgments
  • Showing attention: positioning your body close to your child and maintaining eye contact
  • Using non-intrusive encouragers: this doesn’t mean to interrupt your child, but rather to give signals to continue such as nodding, smiling, or saying “uh-huh,” “ok,” or “I see.”
  • Using open-ended questions: asking questions to help you understand what your child is trying to say, or go into greater detail. Questions should not challenge, redirect, provoke or threaten what your child is trying to say.
  • Respond reflectively: reflect back your child’s ideas and/or feelings in a neutral, non judgmental way to check that you understand them accurately.
    • Adopt an open posture. Crossed arms and legs can suggest, “I’m not listening to you.” An open posture may show your child that you are interested in what he/she is saying.
    • Put yourself on your child’s level – kneel, lean towards the child. This can communicate, “You have my attention, and I’m listening.”
    • Stay relaxed. If you fidget nervously when your child is talking, he/she may think you’d rather be somewhere else.
    • Listen for your child’s feelings and needs.
    • Be available and listen when your child needs to talk.

Watch your child. Learn to read his/her non-verbal behavior: posture, body movements, and gestures. Notice frowns, smiles, and raised eyebrows.

  • Listen to voice quality and pitch, emphasis, pauses, and inflections.
  • The way in which your child says something can tell you more than what he/she is actually saying.
    Actively give your child non-verbal feedback. Nod. Smile. Look surprised. These small signals can mean more than you realize.
  • The last step to listening is speaking. But, before you give your response, restate in your own words what your child has told you. This proves that you were listening, and it gives the child the opportunity to say,
  • “Yes, that’s it exactly” or “No, what I really mean is this…”
  • Keep in mind that one of the goals of communication is to increase understanding

Asking your child, “how do you know that I love you?” is a good way to get a sense of their primary love language, opening the door to kids feeling loved, safe and more likely to talk, engage and learn. Download the Five Love Languages chart to see where your child may fall.

Friend Time and Friend Rules

Friendships take on new meaning and importance as your child grows. Close friendships involve intense feelings, learning how to trust, learning to criticize with honesty, and feeling secure outside of the family.
With more friends and a wider range of interests and activities, your child may begin to spend less time at home. By knowing your child’s close friends, you will learn a lot about your child.

  • Talk with them on the phone.
  • Meet them at neighborhood or school events.
  • Find out what they and your child do together.
  • Review “house rules” with your child prior to the visit.
  • Let your child, the friend, and the friend’s family know that an adult will be there.
  • Know what’s going on by seeing, hearing, and talking with them about what they are doing. Be informed, but keep a low profile.
  • Find out about the friend’s “house rules” and who else will be at home, like parents, another adult, brothers, or sisters.
  • Ask about what they plan to do during the visit.
  • Talk with your child about things that are important to you: no guns, violent TV and video games, alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Take this time to review behaviors that are healthy and those that are dangerous.
  • If your child does not have his or her own cell phone, be sure to have the telephone number of where he or she can be reached, and that the friend’s parents have your contact information.
  • If there is a change of plans, you need to be told.
  • Talk with them on the phone.
  • Meet them at neighborhood or school events.
  • Greet them when dropping your child off at their home.
  • Share contact information
  • If your child has a cell phone, talk about its proper use.
  • For emergencies, your child needs to know, and have written down, your home, work, and cell phone numbers.
  • Agree on rules, like curfew time, and enforce the agreed-upon consequences when a rule is broken.
    When plans change—and they will— let your child know that you need to be contacted for approval of any changes.
  • Have a backup plan. If you cannot be reached, your child also needs the contact information for an adult relative, neighbor, or family friend who can be called.

Friends Are Important: Tips for Parents (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)

Activities

As you plan your time together with your child, some questions to keep in mind and prepare are:

  • Have I child proofed my house (depending on their age)?
  • Have I child proofed my car?
  • Do they have a bedroom or safe space to sleep?
  • Have I set up parental controls on the computer?
  • Do I have a babysitter to contact if needed?
  • Do I have healthy food available for my child, and I am aware of their allergies and dietary restrictions?
  • Have I shared with my company/work about my family commitments?
  • Do I have a phone number and directions to the nearest hospital in case of an emergency?
  • Do I know the protocol in my co-parenting plan in case of emergency?
  • Am I aware of any school or extracurricular events or responsibilities that are a priority for my child?
  • Have I planned fun activities to do together? If you aren’t sure where to start in that area, we have tons of ideas for you below!

“What should we do today?” How many times do parents get asked that question? As a single parent, the choices can be more limiting due to time, money or transportation. That said, there is always something fun you can do with your kids so plan ahead!

You can also find more free and cheap happenings around the Denver area on the Denver Free Fun Facebook group. Colorado Parent Magazine also provides lists of things to do around the state to keep your child active and engaged.

  • Cook and eat a meal together
  • Go for a walk together
  • Plant a garden
  • Help with their homework
  • Explore and celebrate your family’s culture by sharing stories about your ancestors, looking up your genealogy and creating a family tree
  • Learn about other cultures by reading stories about different and interesting places
  • Read together
  • Discuss with your children some goals for the school year – theirs and yours
  • Listen to your child’s favorite music. Ask them what they like about it.
  • Discuss an area in which you and your child disagree – and listen to what they have to say!
  • Laugh together

*Colorado Fathers’ Resource Guide

If you need ideas for fun things to do with your children, check out this list of nearly 200 activities sorted by age. Be a Fan of Your Kid has creative ideas for a full day of fun for parents and kids to do together download here.

In the midst of our stressful lives, taking time to catch your child being good and giving them affirmations and encouragement to help reinforce positive behaviors. Download this list of great things to say to your kids when you catch them being good.

Participating in extracurricular activities is a memorable part of childhood, and nowadays there are activities for just about any interest area a child could have – from soccer to art, or coding to music – there is something for everyone! Start by asking your child’s teacher or parents of friends what activities in your local area they know about and recommend. You can also visit the Coloradokids.com website for a directory of kids sports, clubs, camps and programs across the state.

You can also sign your child up for after school programs such as your local Boys & Girls Clubs that offer a variety of activities such as art, tutoring, cooking classes, sports, technology and leadership programs for school age kids. The YMCA also provides quality before and after school care for kids as well as day camps and summer programs.

Summertime often requires different childcare needs for families, especially if your child is school age. Make sure you are aware of school closures over holidays and summer so that you can plan ahead accordingly.

In Colorado, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and other local day camps are great resources for daily care in the summer. However, you may also want to think of fun summer-specific activities to do with your child, either right in your backyard or as a part of a summer vacation. When planning vacations, make sure that any variations to your co-parenting plan are discussed as soon as possible to avoid any miscommunication.

Summer is also a great time to plan memorable warm-weather activities for you and your child. Operation Summer provides a list of fun family activities, including but not limited to:

  • Visiting a water park
  • Going to a baseball game
  • Camping and hiking
  • Throwing a neighborhood party or family reunion
  • Enjoying your own backyard or local park with a cookout, sprinklers, volleyball, etc.

These places offer rides, games, food and fun!

Adventure Golf & Raceway
Three-hole miniature golfs courses, electric go-art track and bumper cars. adventuregolfandracewya.com

Bandimere Speedway
See stockcar racing and special events.
bandimere.com

Boondocks Fun Center
Miniature golf, go-karts, bumper boats, bowling and arcade.
boondocks.com

Elitch Gardens Theme Park
Seventy acres amusement park and water park in the heart of downtown Denver.
elitchgardens.com

Gateway Park Fun Center
Go-karts, kiddie train, mini golf, batting cages and arcade games.
gatewayfunpark.com

Lakeside Amusement Park
Old-fashioned amusement park, known for low prices and its location to a pretty lake.
lakesideamusementpark.com

Santa’s Workshop North Pole
Christmas-themed amusement park with rides, shows, activities, arcade and visits with Santa.
northpolecolorado.com

Platte Valley Trolley
Open-air trolley car that travels the scenic South Platte Greenway.
denvertrolley.org

Tiny Town & Railroad
Kid-sized buildings and a tiny train to ride around the town.
tinytownrailroad.com

JANUARY
Jan 6-21, 2018 National Western Stock Show nationaionwestern.com
Jan 13, 2018 Lafayette Quaker Oatmeal Festival lafayettecolorado.com
Jan 22-29, 2018 International Snow Sculpture Festival gobreak.com

FEBRUARY
Feb 7-11, 2018 Winter Carnival, Steamboat steamboat-chamber.com
Feb 8-11, 2018 High Plains Snow Goose Festival highplainssnowgoose.com

MARCH
March 9-11, 2018 Monte Vista Crane Festival mvcranetest.org
March 23-25, 2018 Denver March Pow-Wow denvermarchpowwow.org

APRIL
April 8, 2018 Arvada Kite Festival arvada.org

MAY
May 19, 2018 Thornfest cityofthorton.net
May 26-28 Boulder Creek Festival bcproductions.com

JUNE
June 2-3, 2018 Capital Hill People’s Fair peoplesfair.com
June 2-3, 2018 Denver Chalk Festival larimerarts.org
Date TBD City Park Ice Cream Social cityparkalliance.org
June 9-July 29, Colorado Renaissance Festival colroadorenaissance.com
June 15-17, 2018 Greek Festival thegreekfestival.com
June 16-18, 2018 Dragon Boat Festival cdbf.org
June 23-24, 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival cherryblossomdenver.org

JULY
July 6-8, 2018 Cherry Creek Arts Festival cherryarts.org
July 13-15, 2018 Colorado Black Arts Festival colbaf.org
July 13-15, 2018 Colorado Irish Festival coloradoirishfestival.com
July 13-15, 2018 Denver County Fair denvercountyfair.org
July 26-29, 2018 Arapahoe County Fair arapahoecountyfair.org

AUGUST
Aug 1-5, 2018 Adams County Fair adamscountyfair.com
Aug 3-5, 2018 Colorado Scottish Festival scottishgames.org
Aug 3-12, 2018 Boulder County Fair bouldercountyfair.org
Aug 10-19, 2018 Western Welcome Week westernwelcomeweek.com
Aug 17-18, 2018 Palisade Peach Festival palisadepeachtest.com
Aug 24-Sept 3, 2018 Colorado State Fair coloradostatefair.com
Aug 31-Sept 3, 2018 A Taste of Colorado atasteofcolorado.com

SEPTEMBER
Sept 1-3, 2018 Boulder Creek Hometown Festival bceproductions.com
Sept 8-9, 2018 Festival Italiano belmarcolorado.com

OCTOBER
Oct 12-14, 2018 Annual Pumpkin Festival botanicgardens.org
Oct 31-Nov 11, 2018 Denver Film Festival denverfilm.org

NOVEMBER
Nov 2-10, 2018 Denver Arts Week denver.org
Nov 30-Dec 1, 2018 Parade of Lights denverparadeoflights.com

Carson Nature Center
ssprd.org/nature

Celestial Seasonings Tour
celestialseasonings.com

Colorado State Capital
leg.colorado.gov

Garden of the Gods
gardenofthegods.com

Denver Mint
usmint.gov

Dick’s Sporting Good Park
dickssportinggoodspark.com

Hammond’s Candies Tour
hammondscandies.com

National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesa Laboratory & Visitor Center (NCAR)
scied.ucar.edu/visit

Red Rocks Amphitheater & Visitor Center
redrocksonline.com

South Suburban Parks and Recreation
ssprd.org/Parks

Legal Overview


If you are the spouse initiating the divorce, you are the “Petitioner” and your spouse is the “Respondent.” If you are the Petitioner, we will prepare a “Summons” and “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” and hand deliver (serve) it to your spouse. We will also file these papers with the court, which initiates the divorce proceedings.  If your spouse initiates the divorce, you will receive a Summons and Petition for Dissolution, and we will file and serve an Answer to the Petition on your behalf.

Within 42 days after the Petition is filed, the court will require the parties to attend an “initial status conference.” This is a chance for the court to meet the parties, address any preliminary issues or concerns, and ensure that the case proceeds smoothly.  The court will also determine whether a temporary orders hearing is necessary to address whether one of the parties is entitled to temporary maintenance, child support, or use of the marital home, and whether temporary parenting time orders are necessary.

No later than 42 days after the Petition is served on the Respondent, the parties must exchange financial and other information with each other (called “disclosures”).  The parties may also engage in “discovery” during which they can request additional information in writing (“interrogatories”) and ask questions of the other party under oath (“deposition”).

At the temporary orders hearing, the court will determine the whether one party should pay for the other party’s and children’s support during the divorce process.  The parties present evidence of their income, sources of support, needs and obligations.

In Colorado, there is a mandatory 91-day (13 weeks) waiting period between the time the Petition is served on the Respondent and the time when the court may grant the divorce.  This is a minimum waiting period, and cases often take longer.  If the parties cannot agree on all issues, the court will usually order the parties to attend a “mediation” to try to voluntarily resolve the disputed issues with the help of a mediator.  If the parties cannot resolve their differences at mediation, the court will decide the disputed issues at a “permanent orders hearing.”

At the permanent orders hearing, the parties present witnesses and evidence regarding the disputed issues, and try to persuade the court to rule in their favor on these issues.  Ultimately, the court decides the disputed issues based on what the court determines is most equitable or fair.  After the court issues its ruling, either party may request that the court reconsider or revise some or all of its decisions, and either party may appeal the court’s ruling to the Colorado Court of Appeals or, in some instances, to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Understanding Legal Definitions and Processes

  • Pro Se: a Latin phrase meaning “for oneself” or “on one’s own behalf”. Filing pro se works when the action is uncontested, a proceeding in which there are no disputes. Uncontested means that: both the husband and wife agree to the divorce; both agree to the division of property and debts, and, if applicable, they agree on custody and related issues regarding the children.
  • Pre Decree: includes anything that occurs prior to the finalization of the divorce. It can include mediation, evaluations, drafting of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Drafting the
  • Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, drafting the Marital Settlement Agreement. It can also include pretrial motions (orders of protection, restraining orders, petitions for temporary custody, etc) and pretrial conferences with a judge.
  • Post Decree: includes anything that occurs after the divorce has been filed, if changes or issues arise that need to be resolved in court
  • Colorado Judicial Branch Glossary of Terms
  • The Post-Divorce Parenting Glossary

It is entirely possible to file for divorce on your own and complete the process without the help of an attorney. However, before you decide to go this route, make sure to consider some of the following questions to see if this is a good route for you and your ex-spouse:

  • Are you and your ex-spouse in agreement on all issues (division of property, custody, support, etc.)?
  • Do you have complete information about your family’s assets and debts, and they are fairly straightforward?
  • Do you believe the custody and shared parenting time arrangements are fair and reasonable?
  • Do you have the time and temperament to research state and county law, gather documentation, and follow through with court filings and appearances?

https://www.divorcenet.com/states/nationwide/dnetart-01.html

If the answers to the above questions are all yes, then this may be a good route for you. For more information about Pro Se divorce, read through this overview of the process, as well as 6 tips for handling divorce without an attorney.

Pursuing divorce with a lawyer

Many people consider hiring an attorney to represent their interests if mediation is not working or was never an option. (see information under mediation).

Making decisions for the future of your family when your marriage is ending is not an easy task. It may be difficult to remove harsh emotions from the equation. Additionally, you and the other parent may be unclear as to what should be in the plan or how best to arrive at certain decisions.
These are sensitive and important matters, and you want to do it right the first time to avoid unnecessary headaches and heartaches in the future. If you are not able to work through the details with you soon to be Ex and/or a mediator, you will need to hire and work with an experienced family lawyer. There are attorneys that represent you and there are attorneys that represent themselves, make sure that you research who you are hiring and know the difference. You do not want to file numerous addendums and haggle over little details just for the sake of additional fees. The more things that you and the other parent can agree on the less your legal fees will be.
Here are five reasons an attorney may be helpful

Expert Advice
An experienced attorney can help a person to make certain to receive everything that he or she deserves during a divorce. State laws do not necessarily support an even split of assets depending on the couple’s situation. In many cases, a spouse is even entitled to retirement or other income that the other spouse will receive in the future. If your marriage has any complicated issues to settle, an attorney can be an invaluable resource. For example, if there is child custody and support issues, substantial income, debts, assets or future assets (an inheritance, etc.) then you should hire an attorney to protect your interests in a divorce.

Reduce Stress
Divorce is a stressful time for everyone involved. Hiring an attorney to complete a divorce may reduce the stress of the divorce, especially if it is difficult to communicate with the other parent. While the attorney will need to gather information from you, he or she will take care of almost everything else, allowing you more time to take care of yourself and your family. You have enough things to worry about when you are getting divorced, let an attorney take care of the legal work.

Avoid Mistakes
There are two primary reasons that people make mistakes when completing their own divorce: the legal system is complicated, and the stress of the divorce makes it difficult to think clearly. If you simply forget to address an issue such as medical or credit card debt or if you underestimate or overestimate the value of an asset, or neglect to put college costs in the child support agreement, you can make a significant mistake in a divorce proceeding.

Clear and Binding Agreement
Though a court will review any divorce documents that you present, the court may not understand what you are trying to do on each point of the divorce. This may result in a divorce decree that states something other than what you intended. By using an attorney, you can be certain that the legal documents presented to the court will accurately state your wishes and that the divorce decree will be free of errors or unclear language that may make parts of the agreement difficult or impossible to enforce.

Avoiding Delays
Though a person may use court provided documents to file for divorce, there can still be problems with completing the proper forms and providing adequate information and documentation. A person who goes to court without legal counsel may find that problems with the paperwork or other issues may result in a delay in the court’s ruling. This may substantially delay the date that the divorce is final. By hiring an attorney, a person can avoid paperwork or other problems that could cause a delay and get the divorce completed as quickly as possible.

Arbitration

Arbitration is often used to resolve disputes between divorcing parties when couples have reached a stalemate in their negotiations but wish to resolve the issues outside of court. Divorce arbitration is a type of divorce trial heard in a private setting before an Arbitrator, scheduled a time and place convenient for all parties, in comparison to a court trial which is scheduled according to the judge’s availability.

Some benefits of Divorce Arbitration include:

  • Getting to select the Arbitrator who will make the decision
  • Having the option to select an Arbitrator with specific experience in an area of interest such as taxes, real estate value or management
  • Getting to define the specific issues to be addressed by the Arbitrator
  • Choosing the day, time and location of the hearing
  • Enjoying increased privacy, confidentiality and a less formal setting
  • Avoiding the time, expenses and emotional distress associated with a trial in court.

*http://www.mdrs.com/neutrals/interviews-with-the-experts/understanding-divorce-arbitration-and-mediation/

Mediation

Divorce mediation is about you and your soon to be ex-spouse deciding your own divorce and what is best for the both of you and most importantly, your children.

In mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, and with their help, you work through the issues you need to resolve so the two of you can end your marriage as amicably and cost effectively as possible.

The issues covered include but at not limited to the following:

  • Distribution of Property (Assets/Liabilities)
  • Child Custody and Parenting Time
  • Child Support/Maintenance
  • Child’s Schools and College Planning
  • Retirement
  • Taxes

In mediation, the couple, with the help of the mediator, works out agreements on the above issues. Sometimes agreements come easy, sometimes they are difficult and can take a lot of time and work. When agreements are hard to reach, that is when the mediator intervenes. It is the mediators job to keep the lines of communication open, brainstorm ideas, reality test the couple, teach empathy and assist the couple in their decision making process. Mediators help keep the couple focused on the issues at hand, trying not to get them off track. When divorcing couples get off track and away from the above issues during mediation, arguing, name-calling and bad prior memories are brought up.
Mediation is flexible and confidential. It gives you and your spouse a way to settle the conflict between you in a way that helps you to work together as parents. This is extremely important if you have children and must interact with your ex-spouse after you are divorced. Mediation brings about communication between the couple, which can then be used when they must discuss issues in pertaining to the children. Lack of communication may have been one of the main reasons for their divorce. Mediation has the ability to help the couple learn to communicate again, if only for the sake of the children, and make their post-divorce relationship better than their married one.

A divorce mediator is neutral and doesn’t “work” for either parent. That means the mediator can not give advice to either party. They must remain neutral no matter what the situation. This will not be the case should attorneys become involved. Each parent will need their own representation.
What the mediator can do, though, is assist the divorcing couple in formulating ideas that can eventually lead to agreements that will stand the test of time. That open and free exchange of information frees up both spouses to negotiate with each other in confidence. Because both spouses are working with the same base of information, it usually takes far less time to negotiate a resolution that makes sense to both spouses.

Mediation is voluntary. It continues only for so long as all three of you – you, your spouse, and the mediator — want it to. Mediations can be conducted weekly, every two weeks, monthly or how ever often the couple wants them to be. This is their mediation and they decide everything in the process. Mediation can be a spring board to an amicable, strong and deliberate copareting relationship.

The length of mediation depends on what issues have been agreed to prior to mediation and those issues that need to be addressed during mediation. Also, the amount of time spent in mediation is contingent upon you and your spouse’s willingness to come to agreements that are equitable for the both of you and your willingness to do what is in the best interests of your children.

The time spent in mediation can be reduced if you and your spouse are able to come to agreements prior to mediation, or at the least, narrow down your options to a few workable ones. However, if you and your spouse are not able to discuss your divorce outside of mediation, it is strongly recommended that you avoid it at all costs. When couples try to work out issues on their own and it leads to arguments and “drawing lines in the sand”, it makes mediation more difficult and time consuming. On average, pre-decree divorce mediation can be completed in 4-10 sessions.

Litagation cases led to more spite and frustration between the divorcing couples, usually leading to a lose/lose situation for both. Not many people walk away from a litigated divorce feeling satisfied. On the other hand, couples who go through mediation feel more satisfied with established communication kills developed to handle the coparenting years. Who would you rather have decide what happens with your children and assets after a divorce, you during mediation or attorneys and judges during a divorce in the courts? Who knows more about you, attorneys, judges or you? Why have people who know nothing about you tell you how you are going to live the rest of your life.

A divorce in the court system is designed to put up that wall and limit communication between the divorcing couple, which inevitably leads to many post divorce problems and many more hours and thousands of dollars in court.

    • Being much less expensive than a court trial or a series of hearings.
    • Ending in a settlement of all of the issues in your divorce most of the time
    • Enjoying confidentiality, with no public record of what goes on in your sessions.
    • Allowing you to arrive at a resolution based on your own ideas of what is fair in your situation,

rather than having a solution imposed upon you based on rigid and impersonal legal principles.

  • Maintaining the ability to still have a lawyer give you legal advice if you wish.
  • Controlling the process with you and your spouse — not the court.
  • Improving communication between you and your spouse and helping you avoid future conflicts.

*https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/divorce-mediation-basics-36180.html

For more information about divorce mediation, check out this overview of the process and this list of frequently asked questions.

Child and Family Investigators

Child and Family Investigator; what I need to know.

When parents do not agree on parenting time or decision making (or both), it is common for a Judge or a Magistrate to appoint an investigator, called a Child and Family Investigator (“CFI”), to make recommendations. A Child and Family Investigator (CFI) is an expert that speaks on behalf of a minor child. Their opinion plays a vital role in decisions made by the court regarding a child. Prior to giving their opinion to the court, the CFI interviews all involved parties, observes the child interacting with any concerned parties, and often speaks with the child. The goal of the CFI is to gather as much information as possible and provide a recommendation for parenting time and other decision-making to the court that is in the child’s best interest.

Either parent can request a CFI, who will talk with the parents and the children, observe the parents with the children and, if time permits, interview references, teachers, day care providers or other individuals who have had experience with the family. A CFI will generally make recommendations to the Court on parenting time, decision making, mental health counseling for children or parents, and even such issues as choice of schools or extracurricular activities.

CFIs are appointed by the court to investigate a family or other situation involving a minor child. Some CFIs are attorneys, child development experts, psychologists, or other experts approved by the State of Colorado. He or she must can carry out a competent investigation of the issue and create a written report for the court. CFIs are required to share the requests of a child if any are discovered.

The CFI’s duties are governed by C.R.S. § 14-10-116.5(I), which states:
The court may, upon the motion of either party or upon its own motion, appoint an individual to serve the court as a child and family investigator pursuant to subsection (2) of this section in a domestic relations proceeding that involves allocation of parental responsibilities. The court shall set forth the duties of such individual in a written order of appointment. The same person may not serve as both the legal representative of the child pursuant to section 14-10-116 and as the child and family investigator for the court pursuant to this section.

The information provided by the CFI, as well as the recommendations given, can be used to determine:

  • Any interventions the CFI feels are in the best interest of the child
  • Authority to make legal decisions on behalf of a child
  • Counseling or other therapeutic intervention for the family
  • Custody evaluation
  • Division of parenting time between parties
  • Mediation for the family

The recommendations of the CFI do play a significant role in what the court order will be. These recommendations do not legally bind a family until the court issues a final decision, referred to as Permanent Orders. Recommendations can also be used in mediation to help parties reach agreements without court interference.

In most cases, the parents or other concerned party are ordered by the Court to divide the expense of the CFI, which are limited by law to no more than $2,000. If the court determines payment is not possible, the CFI is paid by the state.

  • It can be extremely stressful to go through the process of an investigation or evaluation. If parents follow these tips, and prepare properly for the process, it likely will go better and be less anxiety producing.
  • Prior to meeting with the CFI for the first time, meet with your attorney (or if you are representing yourself, have a meeting with an attorney) to help you prepare for the process.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Use the time to talk about your own strengths and about your children’s needs, with the emphasis on the best interest of your children.
  • Avoid wasting time by talking poorly or bad mouthing your spouse/other parent.
  • Try to speak positively about your spouse/other parent. Even though you are getting divorced, at one time you thought enough of that person to have a child together. If your spouse/other parent is a horrible person, that doesn’t say much about your ability to make good decisions.
  • Take some responsibility for the failure of the marriage. It is never one person’s responsibility. You will come across as more introspective and able to accept responsibility for your own failings if you acknowledge that it was at least partially due to mistakes you made.
  • Be on time.
  • Be responsible and responsive. When the CFI calls you, return the calls promptly. If they ask you to sign a release (for example, a release permitting the CFI to talk with teachers or counselors), you are certainly within your rights to ask to have your attorney look at the release. But, in the end, you are probably going to decide to sign the release, so take care of the request as quickly as you can. Don’t slow down the process by unnecessarily delaying.
  • If you are asked to furnish the names of people who know about your parenting capabilities, or who know your family, ask their permission before giving them as a reference or a knowledgeable person. Ask them what they would tell a CFI. Obviously, you do not want to furnish the name of anyone who you think may speak negatively about you and your parenting capabilities.
  • Be organized. Go in with a list of issues and questions for your first meeting. Keep a list of things you need to take care of in gathering information for the investigator or evaluator. Be prepared to articulate what you would like to have happen. For example, be ready, at the appropriate time, to state what you think would be the best schedule for your children.
  • Don’t ever say that you want a schedule, so you can either increase the child support that you receive or decrease the other side’s child support. It will make you look bad.
  • Avoid complaining about their process. If you have reservations, talk to your own attorney or get an appointment with an attorney who can advise you about how to handle your concerns.
  • Always be polite.

For more information about Child and Family Investigators, download this court overview and this frequently asked questions.

Child Support

Colorado has child support statutes to ensure every child has an adequate standard for financial and emotional support from both parents, and the guidelines are intended to for the children to receive the same amount of financial support as they would if they still lived with both parents. This support generally comes in the form of money paid by the parent without custody to the child’s other parent or caregiver. Colorado uses a strict, and also fairly complicated, guideline when deciding the appropriate amount of child support. Parents are allowed to create their own child support agreements, but if these agreements stray too far from the state guidelines they won’t be approved by the court. This is a quick summary of child support guidelines in Colorado.

Calculation of the gross income of each parent, gross income being income from any source other than child support payments, public assistance, a second job, or a retirement plan. Child support is a percentage (roughly 20% for 1 child, and an additional 10% for each additional child) of the combined gross income of the parents, which is then split between both parents, depending on other factors.

In determining the amount of support the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

  • The financial resources of the child;
  • The financial resources of the custodial parent;
  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
  • The physical and emotional condition of the child and his or her educational needs
  • The financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent.
  • Child care expenses, health insurance coverage, medical expenses, educational expenses, and travel expenses until the child turns 18 or graduates from High School.
  • Child support continues indefinitely if the child cannot support themselves due to a physical or mental disability.

If you are seeking child support in Colorado, the Colorado Division of Child Support Services can be your resource for:

  • Establishing child/medical support orders and paternity;
  • Modifying child/medical support orders;
  • Enforcing child/medical support orders, including spousal maintenance when combined with child support;
  • Processing payments through the Family Support Registry (FSR);
  • Collecting past due child support from the non-custodial parent’s federal and state tax refunds and lottery winnings
  • Collecting past due child support from the non-custodial parent through other enforcement measures; and
  • Asking another state’s child support agency to establish, modify, or enforce an order on your behalf.

For more in depth legal guidelines on child support, download the legal review.

To electronically calculate your child support payments, visit the Colorado Judicial Branch website. To make child support payment or access related state services, visit the Colorado child support services portal.

Other Legal Resources

As you work through the divorce process, you may benefit from resources, apps, organizations and/or websites designed to support families and make. Below are some resources that may be helpful to you:

  • Colorado Judicial Branch Family Law Programs: This unit serves as a clearinghouse of community-focused court planning resources, particularly in the areas of juvenile and family law.
  • Our Family Wizard: A website and mobile app to provide a neutral space for divorced or separated parents to easily schedule and track parenting time, share information, manage expenses and payments, and create an accurate, clear record of communication.
  • Custody Source: A database of individuals, groups, companies, services, organizations and professionals to support families involved in child custody cases.
  • Divorce Net: A guide to navigate the legal side of the divorce process with articles, FAQs and resource lists.
  • Custody Xchange: Software that creates professional parenting plan documents and schedules in accordance with state laws and guidelines.

Parenting Plans and Custody Arrangements

When filing for legal separation or divorce with children in the marriage, you are required to complete a parenting plan that outlines the following information:

  • Allocation of parenting responsibilities and decision-making
  • Parenting time and scheduling for the school year and summer, including transportation and drop-off/pickup arrangements
  • Holiday planning
  • Relocation plans
  • Financial Obligations and child support agreements
  • Medical, dental, vision and mental health financial agreements
  • School, sports and extracurricular financial agreements
  • Child tax exemption, as only one parent may claim a deduction for each child on his or her income tax return
  • While not specific to Colorado, we recommend reviewing these guidelines before completing your plan to keep in mind age appropriate considerations in custody scheduling.

If you separate quickly, you may need to create a temporary Parenting Plan at first to make sure you and your ex-spouse are in agreement for what to do in case of an emergency. Over time, the two of you will complete a Permanent Parenting Plan to submit to a judge, though it should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that all of the information is correct.

Legal Requirements

Parenting Time C.R.S. 14-10-124(1.5)(a) outlines the criteria to determine whether a parenting schedule is in a child’s best interests:

1. The wishes of the child’s parents;
2. The wishes of the child, if sufficiently mature (typically starts about 12 or so),
3. The relationship between the child, the parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
4. The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
6. The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party;
7. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
8. The physical proximity of the parties to each other;
9. Whether a party has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect;
10. Whether a party has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse;
11. The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.

Decision-Making C.R.S. 14-10-124(1.5)(b) outlines additional criteria, in addition to the criteria outlined above, for a court to consider when determining parental decision-making responsibility:

1. Credible evidence of the ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly;
2. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support that would indicate an ability as mutual decision makers to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child;
3. Whether an allocation of mutual decision-making responsibility will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parties;
4. A perpetrator of child abuse or neglect may not have decision-making over the other’s objection;
5. A perpetrator of spousal abuse may not have decision-making over the other’s objection, unless the court finds that the parties are able to make shared decisions about their children without physical confrontation and in a place and manner that is not a danger to the abused party or the child.

Irrelevant Considerations C.R.S. 14-10-124 prohibits courts from considering the following in determining the best interests of a child:

1. Conduct which does not affect a party’s relationship with the child (since Colorado has no-fault divorce, courts don’t want custody fights to be an excuse to bring in irrelevant allegations, such as adultery).
2. Gender of the parties.
3. A request for genetic testing.
4. A parent leaving the home due to the other’s spousal abuse.

Following separation or divorce you will need to consider how your child’s extracurricular activities fit into your schedule and co-parenting plan. Some questions to consider include:
6. Can you and your co-parent agree on the activity for the children to participate in?
7. How many activities is enough or too much?
8. Is your co-parent going to cooperate in paying for the activity, materials or equipment required?
9. If so, how much?
10. Is your co-parent going to cooperate in taking the children to the extracurricular activity, including but not limited to: special events like recitals, tournaments, etc. that could require travel?

It is important to consider and plan out ahead of time how costs of extracurricular activities will be split (including participation fees, supplies and equipment and travel if applicable), and how parents will address the activity overlapping with planned custodial time with children. In these scenarios, it’s important to think about what is in the best interest of your child while respecting each co-parent’s right to quality time with their children.

Extra Curricular Activities

Co-Parenting & Vacations

A Parenting Plan involves calendaring when the children stay at each parent’s house – including where the kids pend their school holiday periods.

One important decision in creating the Plan is whether vacation schedules take precedence over regularly scheduled parenting time. This involves what to do if regularly scheduled time with one parent conflicts with vacation orders. Often, vacation time rulings take precedence. For example, if the kids are scheduled to be with their mother from the week beginning December 20, but the father has the kids for Christmas break, they spend the holidays with the father.

If both parents agree on a parenting time arrangement, the court will usually accept it. On the other hand, if they don’t agree, the court will step in and impose an equitable arrangement. Who do you want to make the plans, you or the court? For example, parents have several options for what to do over summers. They can maintain the same schedule as the rest of the year, award the entire summer vacation to one parent (for example, a parent living across the country who gets less time with the kids) or divide the vacation between the two parents. This is part of the plan that needs to be set with the initial co-parenting plan. It I equally wise to set forth agreements as to how to deal with extenuating circumstances, such as illness, extended family events or celebrations. Remember that it is your kids best interest to maintain relationship with both extended families. Being flexible is important.

Parenting Resources and Education

Colorado divorce laws officially recognize that parenting research convincingly

  • documents the negative impact divorce and separation can have on children,
  • establishes that children in such cases often exhibit a decreased ability to function academically, socially and psychologically because of stress, and
  • demonstrates that divorce process and co-parenting education can effectively assist parents to help support their children during the family’s divorce transition.

This Colorado parenting law, also known as the Parental Education law, provides programs to:

  • educate parents about the divorce process and its impact on adults and children
  • teach co-parenting skills and strategies so that parents may continue to parent their children in a cooperative manner.

Such divorce and parenting education programs are declared to be in the best interests of children, as a matter of official Colorado family law public policy.

Accordingly, the legislature authorizes Colorado courts to order parents with minor, under 18 years of age, children to attend co-parenting education programs in:

  • dissolution of marriage (“divorce”) and legal separation proceedings,
  • allocation of parental responsibilities (“child custody”) proceedings,
  • parenting time (“visitation”) proceedings, and
  • any other post decree (after divorce) parenting proceedings.

The language of Colorado’s Parental Education Law is permissive (“A court may order a parent…”), not mandatory, but nearly all Colorado judicial districts now require proof of parents’ completion of such parenting education classes, as a prerequisite to domestic relations court orders, especially decrees of dissolution of marriage or of legal separation.

For more resources on parenting, download the resource and information guide Connecting With Your Kids. To learn more about child custody from a legal perspective, download the Judges Guide: Making Child-Centered Decisions in Custody Cases report.

We also recommend you look back at the Co-Parenting section of the Self-guide.

Other Legal Considerations

After the final divorce or child custody order has been signed by the judge, it is entirely possible (and likely) that things can change. This usually comes up in one of four ways

  1. One or both of the parties did not do something they agreed they would or he or she is not following the court’s final order(s) in one or more respects. This could include not filing paperwork in a timely manner, not making child support payments, or not making reasonable attempts to follow through the changing property titles and statuses.
  2. You and your ex-spouse come up with an arrangement that differs from what is reflected in the original divorce order signed by the judge. You won’t get in trouble for coming up with a different arrangement if it is something the two of you agree on, but it’s always a good idea to get the new arrangement in writing, signed and even notarized if possible so that it documents the change. This can then be submitted to the court as an amendment to the order that better reflects reality.
  3. A significant change in life circumstances has happened. This could come from a major change in salary due to promotion or job loss or moving out of state and can be considered a reasonable cause for modification to the divorce order as long as the changed circumstance is “substantial and continuing.”
  4. Something crucial is missing from the decree. This occurs most often with 401(k)s or other retirement funds that were overlooked during the initial divorce proceedings and there is no documentation for how to address these funds. It’s important to include official written documentation on how retirement funds will be dealt with before you or your ex-spouse retires.

https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/post-decree-enforcement-andor-modification-what-to-do-when-things-go-wrong-after-the-divorce

PAYING FOR YOUR CHILD’S COLLEGE

Paying for college tuition, books, fees and room and board expenses can cause financial hardship for any parent. When parents are separated/divorced or going through the divorce process, paying for college expenses can be a source of major controversy.

College is referred to in Colorado child support law as “postsecondary education,” and includes college and vocational education programs. Under Colorado law “postsecondary education support” means support for the following expenses associated with attending a college, university, or vocational education program: Tuition, books, and fees.

However, Colorado child support law is clear concerning divorced parents’ or unmarried parents’ obligation to contribute to college expenses. The basic rules are:

1. The Court cannot order the parents to pay for college expenses if the original child support order was entered on after July 1, 1997 – unless the parties agree in written document (for example a Separation Agreement, a Parenting Plan or Stipulation) filed with the Court after July 1, 1997.
2. If a child support obligation was established or modified prior to July 1, 1997, the Court can order the parents to pay for college expenses.
3. The Court cannot order a parent to pay for college expenses for a child at the same time as the parent is paying child support for that child.
4. The Court cannot order college expenses to be paid after the child reaches age 21.
5. A college expense order can be modified by the Court or by mutual agreement of the parents.
6. College expenses can include tuition, books and fees. A Court can’t order the parties to pay for room and board at college, unless the parents agree.

Figuring out how to split childcare costs when you’re divorcing is not easy, but it can be like remedial math compared to deciding who pays what for your children’s college education.
There are countless issues that can come up, but if you’re separated/divorced and have visions of your children someday showing you their college diploma, here are four things you need to know:

1. Negotiate NOW
Many couples go into great detail about custody schedules in their divorce decrees, but skip over college. It’s best to detail everything from the start, even if your kids are in preschool. While you may still need to revisit the issue as the kids get older and your finances change, at least you have a baseline.

Attorneys may not feel the need to inform the parents that they should address it, since it may be a decade or more away. You have no idea what your relationship with the other parents will look like when your kids are 17 years old. If your children are older, it is a must have discussion and
agreement, no matter how much longer it takes to tackle the issue.

2. Secure the college fund
If you have money saved for college, make sure the money can’t be utilized for anything else but your child’s education.

A 20 year marriage that ends with a $75,000 in three different accounts, all earmarked originally for their son’s and daughter’s college education, but not in 529 plans that are tax-free accounts for college-only expenses can be spent in any way the parents want.

Since these funds were not in a specific 529 account or similar, both parents can negotiate something different that their original intent.

3. Strategize about who fills out aid forms
For divorced families, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which colleges use to determine aid, only details the income of the parent the child lives with the most, and will include the income of a stepparent if there is one.

“Assuming that a student is living with both parents equally, the parent with the lower income should fill out the FAFSA,” says Steven Roy Goodman, an educational consultant and admissions strategist in Washington, D.C.

Taxes

If you are divorcing or recently divorced, taxes may be the last thing on your mind. However, these events can have a big impact on your wallet. Choosing the right filing status determines most of the amounts on your tax return, including tax bracket, exemptions and eligibility for credits and deductions. Your choice of status ultimately depends on whether you are married or unmarried on the last day of the tax year—generally, December 31. If you are still in the process of going through a divorce, then you are still considered married.

The IRS only considers you unmarried if you have a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance at the end of the year. Unmarried persons generally use the single filing status. However, you can file as head of household if a qualified dependent lives with you. Married persons can file either jointly or separately. When filing jointly, the income and deductions of both spouses are combined on one return. Filing a joint return means both of you are liable for any tax liability, even if only one of you earned the income. While filing separate returns relieves you from liability of your spouse’s tax, your tax rate is generally higher and you won’t be allowed to claim certain credits, including the Earned Income Credit and education credits.

Here are some other key tax tips to keep in mind:

  • Child Support. Child support payments are not deductible and if you received child support, it is not taxable.
  • Alimony Paid. You can deduct alimony paid to or for a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation decree, regardless of whether you itemize deductions. Voluntary payments made outside a divorce or separation decree are not deductible. You must enter your spouse’s Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number on your Form 1040 when you file.
  • Alimony Received. If you get alimony from your spouse or former spouse, it is taxable in the year you get it. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, you can make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from your wages.
  • Spousal IRA. If you get a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the end of your tax year, you can’t deduct contributions you make to your former spouse’s traditional IRA. You may be able to deduct contributions you make to your own traditional IRA.
  • Name Changes. If you change your name after your divorce, be sure to notify the Social Security Administration. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on SSA.gov or call 800-772-1213 to order it. The name on your tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can cause problems in the processing of your return and may delay your refund.

For more information about tax implications when dividing property in divorce, visit the Journal of Accountancy.

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-effects-of-divorce-or-separation