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Domestic Law Questions for the Pro-Se Party

As a family law paralegal, when I tell people what I do for a living, it frequently leads to string of questions about the legal process.  It doesn’t matter if I’m in the supermarket making nice conversation with the cashier, at a friendly dinner making new friends, or in a spa getting a massage (yes…that’s actually happened), questions about their divorce, their friend’s custody matter or their uncle’s, friend’s cousin’s roommate’s situation will inevitably arise.  Being that I love law, spent time work in a domestic division of the Courthouse, and believe that helping others through such struggles is an important job, I am always happy to do what I can, where I can to help.  So to (hopefully) help some of you, let me share some “Frequently Asked Questions” about Domestic Law:

1. I make (insert gross income here) but I have so many bills to pay that I have very little left at the end of the month.  Does the Court take my expenses into consideration when calculating child support?

Answer: No.  The Child Support Guidelines calculate support based on both parents’ adjusted GROSS income as well as the number of overnights.  However, expenses such as health insurance premiums paid for the child, child care costs and extraordinary medical expenses ARE included in the child support calculation.

For more information, you can check out the actual statute here:

http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/Colorado

(Click on “Colorado Revised Statutes” on the left, then you can search (14-10-115) for the Child Support Guidelines – several answers will come up from the search so make sure you’re looking at the right section).

If you’d like an estimate of what you would receive or pay in child support – you can view the worksheet produced by the State of Colorado here:

http://www.courts.state.co.us/Forms/Forms_List.cfm?Form_Type_ID=94

 

2. I don’t have enough money for an attorney but I don’t know how to get through this on my own – are there any resources out there that can help me figure out this process on my own?  Or at least help me until I can get enough money for an attorney?

Answer: People who are not represented by an attorney can check out the court’s website at www.courts.state.co.us.  This website is FULL of helpful information for the pro-se (non-attorney) party.  Browse the website under “Forms” and “Domestic/Family” and it will give you every form you will (likely) need as well as an instruction sheet on how to use the form.  There is also a flow-chart describing the process of a Family Law case from start to finish and instructions to help walk you through the process.

Also, under the “Self-Help” section, you can choose your location and get in touch with the Family Court Facilitator assigned to your Court’s district and they will be able to meet with you and walk you through this process.

Be aware, however, that every case is different and if you find yourself in a complicated case, you may need to speak to an attorney about what to do.  If you find yourself in that position, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation so that we can help you either come up with a plan of action for yourself and give you some helpful information, or discuss a fee agreement that works with your budget so that you can be represented by competent legal experts.