What I Do For You in Divorce Cases

A Good Start

Although I am quite formal in court, I tend to be informal with my clients, starting with a casual interview/discussion.  The divorce process is stressful enough without the added tension of a nervous relationship with your attorney.  I think it's fine to talk on the phone first if you want to.  You can get some more info (and check the rapport) to decide whether to come to the office later.  No hard sell here.  This way you don't waste your time setting up an appointment without a pre-scouting report...  I'm good with that.  In Court = "Mr. Alter".  Out of Court = "Jeff".

At the beginning, we'll chat about your circumstances and see whether we are a good fit and if so, how to proceed.  If it means getting involved in a court case, then we will discuss the information needed to get started with the court and attorney fee issues.  In a divorce case, I have a simple 2-page form for you to fill out from which I can complete the paperwork to file with the court.

Of course, I want to hear about you and your family beyond that as it helps me get to know you and the dynamics of your family circumstances.  Sometimes you may have an emergency that I need to attend to accordingly.  But I can take care of it - and you.  I am here for you to lay your worries at my doorstep.


Modern Approach

I have a paperless office and make extensive use of email, and electronic document and calendaring systems.   I have a state-of-the-art encrypted system, which allows me to get you all documents, filings, court orders, etc. instantly and securely through electronic means.

Everything is tracked so together, we always know what things are and where to find them.  I regularly go to court or settlement conferences with a laptop where your entire case is at my fingertips, along with the official online court file.  In this day and age, it just doesn't make sense not to use all the modern tools available for your case.

As a side note, I designed and coded this website myself to reflect my style of practice - clean and easy to understand without the gimmicks and typical lawyer website language and advertising you always see - you know - the ones that say a lot without saying anything.  It's different here...


Get It Together

I believe organization and streamlining the issues, facts, evidence, law and presentation are immensely important to effective representation in a divorce case.  I pride myself on being the first divorce attorney to answer when the judge asks "When is that report due?", "What are the current orders on parenting time?", or "What is the current law on the marital portion of an irrevocable trust?"

Divorce cases have many moving parts, particularly when asset/debt division, custody and child/spousal support are all included.  I will sort out all the evidence including possible objections where needed, and carefully lay out examinations and cross-examinations on all the issues, while making sure you understand what is going on each step of the way.  It is my job to make sure you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case, along with the strategies.


It's All Settled Then

I am a super believer in divorce mediation and agreements.  Agreements through mediation tend to result in a much more long-term resolution than contentious litigation.  Of course, I don't make as much money if I can't go to trial, but that's a win for you, right?  Yes, yes, yes.  If divorce lawyers truly want to do right by their clients, they should try to minimize the stress and financial burden on their clients and work hard to reach a resolution as long as it is fair.

Meditations are required by many courts in Colorado before having a trial - and this is good.  Unfortunately however, many divorce attorneys use this as just a formality to get out of the way so they can prepare for trial.  Not me.  A mediation can usually be set up within a few weeks of the request.

It is relatively inexpensive as it lasts for a few hours and full agreements or partial agreements can be reached.  So for example, an agreement on custody can occur even if there is no agreement on child support.  This saves a nasty custody battle in court which is always a good, good thing.

Meditations are also convenient in that they can be set up to meet everyone's schedules - and they are much less formal than court.  Importantly, a mediation lets you (rather than a stranger in a black robe) develop solutions and chart your own path.  And it's all confidential, so that if there is not an agreement on an issue, discussions or positions cannot later be brought to the court's attention.

Unlike some divorce lawyers, I seriously prepare for a mediation, compiling spreadsheets where relevant, tagging financial statements, and laying out persuasive arguments and positions for a fair settlement of all issues whether or not involving children.  Further, I try to get a "good" mediator for your case - one that has a history of successful divorce meditations.  I know quite a few...


I'm Not a Fighter???

Hey! I can fight.  But I'm not a "fighter attorney".  You see, a fighter attorney is one that makes the client feel good as they threaten, harass and humiliate the other spouse.  They also cost tons of money AND makes things worse for BOTH parties.

I will tell you what you don't want to hear.  Hello?  There is always bad news in a divorce case.  You may need to sell the family home.  There might not be enough money to maintain your standard of living.  You may be spending less time with your kids.  The list goes on and on.  You know what a good divorce attorney does?  A good divorce attorney explains reality.  A good divorce attorney gets along with opposing attorneys and exchanges all financial and other required information in a timely fashion - no hiding.

A fighter attorney hides stuff, aggravates the other side, creates havoc and ends up depleting the family's financial resources to feed a perverse image of how tough a divorce attorney is supposed to be.  I cooperate with opposing counsel.  I do not try to "burn" the other side.  If that's what you want, find someone else.  I try to help you, protect your rights, and get a sensible resolution for you so you can get on with your life!

But I can fight - and I will fight if needed to protect you from an opposing fighter.  It will, however be a shame.  There is no glory in bloodying the field of divorce...


The Big Picture

I keep the big picture in mind.  It's easy (and lazy) for divorce attorneys to focus on individual issues such as child support, custody, marital property division, etc., without taking into account how they all relate to each other.

How do they relate to each other?

A judge can adjust spousal support based on how marital property is divided.  As an example, your spousal support may be decreased if you get more marital assets (or increased if you get less marital assets).  Big picture...

Another example is parenting time and child support.  Now judges will determine parenting time without regard to child support because a custody decision should not be made based on how much child support is at stake.  So it seems there is no problem with reaching an agreement at mediation as to parenting time and leaving the issue of child support for later if no agreement can be reached on that.

Not so fast...  Child support in Colorado is based in part on the number of overnights each parent has with the child.  And one additional overnight in a year period can make a big difference.  As it stands now, completely different child support worksheets (which result in substantially different child support amounts) are used if a parent has 93 overnights a year compared to 92.

The kicker is that the same child support would be owed whether a parent has zero or 92 overnights.  But the "93" changes everything.  Now while judges are not supposed to take this into account, you may want to.  Big picture...

Incomes of the parties (which is not always clear) affect spousal support, child support, and property division.  Spousal support payments affect child support.  Child support and spousal support will have different timelines or termination dates.  Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to leverage this idea to paying less overall or receiving more overall.  Big picture...

I see it.