Carol Ann’s Newsletter
Table of Contents
1. Teenagers and Parenting Time (Visitation)
13 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce
From the desk of Carol Ann
Super Savings Special!
1. Teenagers and Parenting Time (Visitation)
Parenting time (visitation) orders and agreements in parenting plans or stipulations are sometimes made long before children are teenagers. Or, sometimes parenting time (visitation) orders and agreements are made when children are teenagers, but things change after the divorce or custody case is over – and those orders just don’t work any more in the real world.
There may be many reasons why a teenager does not want to visit with the other parent. For example:
• The teenager may think one parent is too strict (maybe the parent does not let the teenager play with a Play Station, or the parent actually makes the child do homework or chores; or the parent does not let the teenager hang out with friends in the basement, etc.).
• The teenager has after school extracurricular activities, and one of the parents doesn’t want to drive the teenager to the activity or the child is “too busy.”
• The teenager is just lazy, and doesn’t want to pack up and go to the other parent’s house.
• The relationship between the teenager and the parent has just deteriorated, and the teenager doesn’t want to see or speak with the other parent.
In any of those situations, the parent who allows the teenager to choose to not go to the other parent, could be in trouble with the law.
When the parties reach an agreement on parenting time (visitation) or on custody (decision making), and that agreement is approved by the court, it is a “court order.” In order for our legal system to work, judges need to be able to impose some penalties against a parent who does not comply with a court order. The penalty or remedial phase of a case, when a parent does not comply with a court order, is called a “contempt proceeding.”
In 2017, the Colorado Court of Appeals decided in the case titled “In re Marriage of Dean,” that “[a]lthough it might be difficult to compel a child, particularly a teenager, to comply with a court-ordered parenting plan, this does not excuse a parent from making reasonable good faith efforts to secure the child’s compliance.” The Court of Appeals took the position that a parent is not a “powerless bystander” in the decisions and actions of a child, and has “an obligation to attempt to overcome the child’s resistance” to visitation with the other parent.
In other words, a parent is expected to do more than refrain from discouraging visitation; a parent is expected to take affirmative action to encourage visitation. So how can a parent “do more than refrain from discouraging visitation,” and “take affirmative action to encourage visitation?” The answer is unknown, because the decision in the Dean case did not include any information about how that happens.
Some practical suggestions include: (1) texting or emailing the teenager and telling him or her that he or she has to go to the other parent for parenting time; (2) getting the child into therapy to try to address the teenager’s refusal to go to the other parent (but remember, if a parent has joint decision making authority, the therapy decision has to be made jointly); (3) filing a motion with the court, asking the court for some guidance about what to do; (4) talking with the other parent and confirming in writing what arrangements are trying to be made to compel the child to go with the other parent; and (5) consulting with a child development expert to get expert on advice on how to help the teenager go to the other
Court orders have to be followed, or the disobedient parent can face severe consequences. Teenagers don’t make the rules. The judges and magistrates make the rules in the form of court orders. To avoid going to jail, paying attorney fees, and facing other sanctions, parents must comply with court orders.
2. 13 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce
1. Will I be able to receive alimony?
There are several tests for alimony:
Need (Can you support yourself with earned income plus investment income?)
Ability to pay (Does the payer of alimony have sufficient funds to pay?)
Length of marriage (A long-term marriage – ten years or more – is more likely to have longer alimony paid to the lower-earning spouse.)
Age and health of both parties
2. Do I have to share my pension?
Most pensions and retirement plans are considered to be marital assets in most states. Depending on the state where you file for divorce, the portion before your marriage could also be considered a marital asset.
3. Should the wife get the house?
It depends on several things:
If the wife has custody of the children, you may want to keep change to a minimum.
She should not depend on alimony to make high house payments.
If the payments are low, she probably should keep the house.
If the equity in the house is all she receives, she may need some liquid funs (cash).
4. What if I bring a house into the marriage that is in my name only,
and I add my spouse’s name to the deed?
Then the whole house is considered to be marital property. You have made a “presumptive gift” to the marriage. In other words, it is assumed you gave your spouse a gift of half the value of the property.
5. Is my IRA considered marital property? It’s in my name only.
Everything acquired during the marriage, no matter whose name it’s in, is considered to be marital property. In some states, the increase in value of separate property is considered marital.
6. I have never worked. Can I get Social Security?
If your spouse has worked and is eligible for Social Security and if you have been married for ten years or more, then you are entitled to one-half or your spouse’s Social Security or your own, whichever is higher. It does not lower your spouse’s benefit.
7. How do we figure how much child support should be paid?
All states now have child support guidelines. You can get a copy by asking your attorney or by contacting the local bar association.
8. Do we have to go to court?
Only if you can’t reach an agreement. Then, a court date is set and a judge hears the case.
9. Can we use just one attorney?
It is not recommended. If you do use your spouse’s attorney, remember that this attorney represents your spouse, not you, if the going gets rough.
10. Where can we find financial help?
Financial Divorce Specialists are trained to help people through the financial maze of divorce. They sift through the financial issues including incomes, expenses, assets, tax issues, pensions, and division of property to help you reach a financially equitable settlement that is fair to both parties. Call the Financial Divorce Association (888-332-3342) or go to
for the name of a financial divorce specialist in your area.
11. Who will pay the attorneys’ fees?
Today, the most likely answer is that each pays his or her own attorney fees. There are always exceptions, with a significant disparity in financial positions. Unless the couple agrees that one will pay the other’s attorney bills, the judge will decide.
12. Who will pay our debts?
It is imperative that you be specific about what is your debt and what is not. Part of your responsibility is to create a plan for repayment of debt that is yours.
13. What child custody arrangements will we have?
It’s a good idea to explore alternatives to your situation. Some holidays are more important to one parent than to the other. Sometimes joint custody works well, sometimes it doesn’t. Some parents stay within the same neighborhood or school district for their school-age kids. Some even rotate who lives in the old family residence as the custodial parent so the kids stay put – it’s the parent who packs his or her bags.
From the Desk of Carol Ann
A lawyer who was trying to weigh the pros and cons of modifiable vs. non-modifiable maintenance for her client stated that within two to five years, ALL of her modifiable maintenance cases were back in court to request modification of maintenance or termination of maintenance. Makes you wonder, huh
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These are questions (taken from official U.S. court records) lawyers have put to people on the stand.
Q: Mrs. Jones, do you believe you are emotionally stable?
A: I used to be.
Q: How many times have you committed suicide?
Q: So you were gone until you returned?
Q: She had three children, right?
Q: How many were boys?
A: Were there girls?
Q: You don’t know what it was, and you didn’t know what it looked like, but can you describe it?