Attend Beth’s BNI Presentation Oct. 4

I will be giving a presentation to the Golden chapter of BNI — Business Networking International — on Wednesday, Oct. 4. BNI logo

I invite you — friends, clients, business associates and colleagues — to please support me by attending! Read More »

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Beth Joins Team Training Legal Personnel on Unbundled Legal Services

In early September, I attended training for unbundled legal services trainers. I am so excited to be one of the new trainers in this area of the law!

In a conference room in our beautiful Supreme Court building, the Ralph Carr Judicial Center in downtown Denver, I met with three judges, a representative from the Colorado Bar Association and six other attorneys who practice unbundled legal services. Read More »

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Probation Litigation: Guardians, Conservators and Estate Issues

There is a common observance among lawyers: In family law, the parents fight over the children; in elder law, the children fight over the parents.

Cute girl blowing alphabet blocks while family looking at it in house

Sadly, this is often true and can lead to costly litigation. What starts out as a dispute among siblings as to whether a parent should reside with one of them can end up being a court case. When that happens, our firm is there to represent a party who wants to make sure his or her interests are protected. Read More »

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Why It’s Important To Talk End-Of-Life Before An Emergency

8.17.17.EndOfLife.Andersen.blog (1)The following is a guest post by Fran Myers who started a nonprofit called Advance Care Advocate to meet the needs of those without a health care advocate. She coaches families, acts as an agent (primary or secondary) and speaks for groups, organizations and churches. 

A teen I know shared that when her dad died suddenly, no one knew how to talk with her about it. Her friends didn’t know what to say. Her story highlights the fact that we really don’t do well at communicating about this phase of the life cycle no matter how old we are and how hurtful that is. Read More »

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Survey: Court Access, Fairness High in Jeffco

Thanks to a grant that Colorado was one of just seven states to receive, we are able to learn more about how citizens without legal representation feel about access and fairness in the courts, helping us determine how and where we can improve.

The Access Fairness 2017 Survey Report for the Colorado 1st Judicial District, based on 222 exit surveys completed at the Jefferson County Courthouse on June 26, 2017, shows that 80 percent of respondents feel that the courts are accessible, while 71 percent said they believed they were treated fairly. Read More »

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12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: THE BASICS – Step 3 – Complete Your Sworn Financial Statement, Disclosures, Parenting Classes

DIVORCE WALK THROUGH: THE BASICS

Each month, the Andersen Law PC blog will spell out the 12 steps of divorce.

The following is a roadmap with the basics for 12 steps of a divorce proceeding. The intent is to walk you through the process a simple step at a time.

(To see the process in a more personalized, real world context, follow the blogs on the Aingel and DeVille families: the Aingels relatively soaring through the process while the DeVilles crash and burn.)

 And if you want to divorce in less than a year, feel free to call me at 720-922-3880 or email beth@andersenlawpc.com with questions specific to your situation. I am happy to walk you through your own next steps and to answer questions in your complimentary initial phone or videoconference consult.

Here is where the year will take us:

1 – serving and filing a petition for dissolution

2 – responding to the petition

3 – sworn financial statement, disclosures, and parenting classes

4 – initial status conference

5 – discovery and depositions

6 – professionals:  CFI, PRE, vocational evaluator, appraisals

7 – motions to compel and telephone conferences

8 – temporary orders

9 – mediation

10 – parenting plans and separation agreements

11 – witnesses, pretrial deadlines and permanent orders

12 – QDROs and other post decree issues

Step 3: HOW TO COMPLETE YOUR SWORN FINANCIAL STATEMENT, DISCLOSURES, AND PARENTING CLASSES

PREAMBLE AND WARNING: (NOTE: If you are the kind of person who would like to be on the hot seat for a status conference where the judge scolds you for not doing your disclosures, feel free to skip this Preamble and Warning.)

By divorcing, your spouse and you have invited the Colorado government and the courts in your county into the most private and precious aspects of your life.

Divorce is NOT something you want to drag out if you can avoid it.

My suggestion is that you complete the next three steps as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. You do not want to be the person missing deadlines and playing catch up. I have yet to see a case where the party who fell behind on these deadlines did not suffer for it in some way.

Get it done and get it done now.

Think of it as if you are studying for finals, preparing for a major business deadline, setting off to scale a mountain or training for an athletic event. Train hard and remember this too shall pass.

  • Work on this five days a week or extra time on weekends.
  • I suggest half an hour a day until it is done.

Good news if you are broke: You have less to do! (Well, unless you have 20 credit cards to track down.)Good news if you have some spare cash: You can pay someone to help you do this.

Just remember, ultimately someone needs to get all this information on the table. It is best, cheapest and fastest if that person is you. And that way YOU become the expert and the one ahead of the game. Do NOT wait for your spouse to do it. Just do it.

  1. DO A ROUGH DRAFT OF YOUR SWORN FINANCIAL STATEMENT

You need to complete two documents to get this done: the SWORN FINANCIAL STATEMENT (SFS) JDF 1111 and the SUPPORTING SCHEDULE JDF 1111ssfinancial statement and disclosures

The Supporting Schedule JDF 1111ss is part of the SFS JDF 1111 identifying separate property and other property such as investment and retirement accounts. I am not sure why they are not just merged into one document but so be it. For convenience, going forward, I will refer to them collectively as the SFS unless I am pointing out something specific about the Supporting Schedule.

People often ask me if they need to fill out the SFS for just themselves or if they need to include their spouse too. The short answer is that you need to fill it out for just yourself and your kids who would be living with you. The exception is that when you are talking about assets and debt, you need to include your spouse/partner’s assets and debt.”

Here is a way to think about it: you want to know your BUDGET for your NEW HOUSEHOLD BY YOURSELF because that is how the court will see if anyone needs maintenance or child support. But you need to INVENTORY EVERYTHING from both parties to decide how to divide it up.”

  • “For “SALARY” (support, stipends, etc.) AND “SPENDING” (what you are paid and pay, what you get in and give out, income and outgo, earnings and expenses, all money coming into your household and going out of your household, it is only the children and you “SEPARATELY” as a “SINGLE” mother “ STARTING” your new life.  This is because you need to calculate your expenses and to see if your income will cover them going forward.  
  • “For everything you “OWN” and “OWE”— assets and debt, as “OURS: ONE and the OTHER” jointly or together “OVER” your lifetimes put both your husband and you in your “OLD” life (married life) which you are now dividing.  He will be P for petitioner and you will be R for respondent and things owned together are J for joint.  This is for the division of property and they need to look at everything in order to divide it.  

As you may have guessed, it makes good sense to have an attorney look over the SFS before you file it. Remember, it is a sworn statement and you may be cross-examined about it.

COMPILE YOUR FINANCIALS

JDF 1125 is my FAVORITE FORM.

This form links in everything you need to provide as part of your mandatory disclosures:

  1. The SFS mentioned above
  2. Tax Returns for the last three years
  3. Personal financial statements, for example, loan applications
  4. Business financial statements for the past three years. You only need these if you have YOUR OWN business. If you never did this, time to hire a bookkeeper and get it done right! I can give great referrals for this.
  5. Real estate documents, including your lease, mortgage documents and closing documents
  6. Personal debt
  7. Investments
  8. Employment benefits
  9. Retirement plans
  10. Bank and financial accounts
  11. Income documentation
  12. Child care documentation for child care related to work or education
  13. Insurance records
  14. Extraordinary children’s expenses such as regular medical or extracurricular expenses to be shared
  15. Other

Put these together. If you hit a roadblock and cannot get a document, explain why. This will help in following up later. For example, if you cannot get into the retirement account because the other party has the password, write this down. Ask for the password or at least a copy due to your inability to get into the account. You can also do this as part of Discovery or a Motion to Compel.

I strongly urge you to have a laptop, tablet or smartphone to access these documents regularly. Get online savvy. This will keep you in control of the critical data in divorce and make you the expert. You will use this later in mediation.

  1. UPDATE YOUR SFS

Now that you have all your documents together, use this information to update your SFS. If there is something you do not know, add “unknown.” This is early in the litigation and you will get more information over time.

Get the SFS notarized and do not forget the JDF 1111ss supplemental schedule form.

  1. SERVE FINANCIALS; SERVE AND FILE THE SFS AND CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE

The financials are served on the other party in person or by mail. Sometimes they will agree to email service but you must prove they agreed to this. This is NOT filed with the court. The court does not want to hold onto everyone’s financial information.

Be sure to keep an identical copy for yourself so you can prove what you gave the other person.

Once you served the financials on the other party, fill out the JDF 1104 certificate of compliance.

Serve the SFS and Certificate of Compliance (JDF 1111, JDF 1111ss and JDF 1104) on the other party by mail or in person.

Then fill out the Certificate of Service and make yourself a copy. File the original SFS and Certificate of Compliance with the court. Make sure you get your copies stamped “filed” by the court to prove you filed it. Courts lose things. You need proof you filed the Response or it is their word against yours that you did. This advice goes for EVERY pleading you file.

Good job! By completing ALL your paperwork, one of the most burdensome pieces of the divorce process is behind you.

5. PARENTING CLASS

If you have minor children together, you need to take the Parenting After Divorce class. There is a list of classes on the website. You may attend the class online and in person. The Certificate of Completion of the parenting class must be obtained at the end of the class, served on the other person by hand or by mail (or email if they agree to this in writing) and filed with the court. This is required as part of the divorce.

Next month: Step Four: Initial Status Conference

If you need help getting through all the steps of your own divorce, contact Andersen Law PC today. Email beth@andersenlawpc.com or call 720-922-3880.

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How to Revive a Judgment

In many cases, a divorce can end with you receiving a judgment against your ex-spouse for spousal maintenance (alimony). However, your judgment has an expiration date. County court judgments expire and are unenforceable six years from the date of the judgment, while district court judgments expire and are unenforceable 20 years from the date of the judgment. Sometimes, after you’ve attempted the various collection processes, you still have money owed to you with the expiration date approaching. If you revive your judgment, your deadline to collect the judgment starts all over again, and you can continue your collection process.  Read More »

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Will You Please Help Me Support Business Owners in Need?

The disastrous floods of 2013 prompted action in Evergreen, the community that my children and I have called home for so many years. Between the flooding and almost yearly fires that have forced my family and many other families and business owners to flee, it became clear that our community members regularly need support. Evergreen Chamber Disaster Fund presents check to Evergreen resident.

That was when I worked with others in the area to launch the nonprofit organization, the Evergreen Chamber Disaster Fund. The fund raises money to be distributed to business owners in times of need, whether due to natural disasters or personal hardships like illnesses. In the picture to the right, Penny Randall is shown with Evergreen Chamber of Commerce President Betsy Hays, fund board members Bruce Anderson and Linda Castle, and Evergreen Fire Inspector Dan Hrouda as she receives a check from the fund after losing her home in a fire.

This is a cause close to my heart, which is why I will again be participating in the Evergreen Rotary’s annual 100 Holes of Golf on Thursday, June 15, along with my fellow board members. We would love it if you would support our team with a donation.

As some of you know, I am getting married on July 1. In lieu of gifts, I ask that you please sponsor me in the 100 Holes of Golf. I’ll be accepting donations benefitting the Evergreen Chamber Disaster Fund through July 31.

You can make a donation here or by sending a check – made payable to “Evergreen Chamber Community Fund” – directly to me: Andersen Law PC, 12712 W. Ken Caryl Ave., Littleton, CO 80127.

Thank you in advance for your support! The residents and business owners of Evergreen and I greatly appreciate it!

Sincerely,
Beth Andersen

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Cross-Examination for Non-Attorneys: How to Do It and How to Respond to It

 

Andersen Law PC does both unbundled representation of clients who do not have full-service attorneys and also full service representation where we are attorneys of record who do everything. Both scenarios involve cross-examination if a hearing happens. How to do Cross-Examination for Non-Attorneys

With unbundled representation, you may choose to do a hearing by yourself without an attorney there to represent you.

But even with full service, you may have an attorney or the other party (usually your former spouse or partner) cross-examine you.

In both cases, there are rules, principles and tips to keep in mind.

A law professor named Irving Younger came up with ten commandments of cross-examination. They are a good place to start.

  1. BE BRIEF: When asking your questions, make your points and be done. You are limited to the matters raised during the direct examination, and there is no reason to repeat all of those issues. Choose the main ones that make a point about the PROOF YOU NEED TO PROVE YOUR CASE.One of the most common fallacies of law is that you will win your case if you “catch the other person in a lie.” Not necessarily. The court needs to look at all the elements of the legal issue and see how the facts fit into it. So, for example, if the court is trying to decide the best interests of the child, they want to know about factors like whether you both can spend time with the child and whether you both can put the child’s interests ahead of your own. If you catch the other party lying about whether they quit their job or were fired, the judge may not care as long as they are a great parent. On the other hand, it may affect child support if the person is saying they cannot find work. Different issues, different factors.

    When responding to cross, be brief. “Yes.” “No.” “I don’t know.” “I don’t understand the question.” You can explain your answers later on redirect.

  1. USE SHORT QUESTIONS AND PLAIN WORDS: It helps if everyone understands what you are asking. In fact, whether cross-examining or answering, it is pretty easy to confuse yourself (as well as the judge and other people in the courtroom) if you go on too long in asking or answering questions.
  1. ALWAYS ASK LEADING QUESTIONS: A leading question is the opposite of an open-ended question. A leading question has the answer built into it. It does not give the witness any wiggle room to get out of the answer.Here are some leading questions. They are good for cross-examination (in fact, they are so good at leading the witness to the answer that you are NOT allowed to use them with your own sympathetic witnesses).

    – You have not paid child support this month, isn’t that true?

    – You sent the other parent five texts saying, “Never text me again.” Isn’t that correct?

    – You did not appear at the last hearing, did you?

    By contrast, open-ended questions start with who, what, where, which, when, how, why, explain, etc. While great for your own sympathetic witnesses, they are NOT good for cross-examination. They open the door to long-winded testimony and the witness wiggling out of what you want them to say.

    – When did you last pay child support?

    – How much child support did you pay?

    – How often do you text the other party?

and, worst of all 
– Why did you do it?

  1. DON’T ASK A QUESTION TO WHICH YOU DO NOT KNOW THE ANSWER: I think this speaks for itself. Follow it. Do your homework BEFORE the hearing and not through a fishing expedition at hearing. You may not like what comes up at the end of your hook!
  1. LISTEN TO THE WITNESS’ ANSWERS: I take notes during the cross so I know what to use later and what to use in a closing argument. Don’t just read through your questions to get it over with. Pay attention. If you are representing yourself, you may want a person who is not a witness to sit in the courtroom (not at your table as that is not allowed) to take notes for you.
  1. DON’T QUARREL WITH THE WITNESS: Attorneys are accused of badgering if they do this. For non-attorneys, it does not help you and it wastes time. You are not allowed to testify as part of cross-examination. You are only there to ask good questions and live with the answers as they come. If it is not responsive, you can ask the judge to strike the answer as non-responsive. If the witness is being obnoxious and refusing to answer, you can ask the judge to instruct them to answer responsively. But arguing does not help.Especially in a domestic violence case where you are the accused or the victim, do not do this. It makes the accused look like a bully and it makes the victim look like a bully (not a victim) too. Courts definitely look at the behavior of parties when they act as their own attorney and cross-examine the other party. I have heard judges say that they find it very revealing.

    As a witness, do not quarrel for the same reasons.

  1. DON’T ALLOW THE WITNESS TO REPEAT DIRECT TESTIMONY: Leading questions prevent this. And, as mentioned in No. 6 above, you can ask the court for help if the witness is not responsive.As a witness, you may want to touch on some direct testimony, but there is no need to waste a lot of time on it. You already made these points.
  1. DON’T ALLOW THE WITNESS TO EXPLAIN ANSWERS: Leading questions prevent this. And, as mentioned in No. 6 above, you can ask the court for help if the witness is not responsive.As a witness, remember that you can explain on redirect.
  1. DON’T ASK THE ‘ONE QUESTION TOO MANY’: This is law school trial advocacy 101. We all learn it in law school. Here is how it goes: You went to the house, didn’t you? You opened the front door, didn’t you? Yes. You picked up the revolver, didn’t you? Yes. You aimed it at him, isn’t that right? Yes. You pulled the trigger, didn’t you? Yes. He fell down, didn’t he? Yes. He was later pronounced dead, isn’t that right? Yes.Okay, that is enough. You asked just the right number of questions and leave it at that. Let the judge connect the dots and make the FINAL CONCLUSION. Do NOT ask the next question.

    Oops, you didn’t listen. You just had to go on and ask ONE QUESTION TOO MANY: You killed him, didn’t you? NO. And now you opened the door to: he died later for another reason, he was already bleeding when I got there, I do not know why he died, I did not mean to kill him and I was defending myself, he was already on the floor when I got there, there were a lot of bullets flying and I am not sure, he was lunging at me — aaaugh! One question too many. Do not ask it.

    A similar point for witnesses is not to open the door to new issues on cross. A good attorney may ask you something just to open the door to a new issue, knowing you will get defensive and go into a whole new topic. Be careful what you answer and what you volunteer on cross just as is done on direct.

  1. SAVE THE ULTIMATE POINT OF YOUR CROSS FOR YOUR SUMMATION:This goes hand in hand with not asking one question too many. Let the judge connect the dots and make the conclusion at the end. And you are going to help the judge do this, if closing statements are allowed, by emphasizing that conclusion based on the law at the end.As a witness, you also want to let the judge connect the dots. You do not need to testify to legal issues. It can get confusing when you are acting as your own attorney but remember that when you are on the witness stand, you are testifying to facts. When you open or close your case with a statement to the court, you are connecting the dots.

    In parenting cases, I find it helpful if you keep a picture of your child or children on the stand with you during the other party’s cross-examination of you. Remember why you are there.

Good luck. Stay calm and do not lie, cloud the truth, curse, name call, get angry or be sarcastic. That never helps. The court is looking to see if you are reasonable. Acting reasonable during cross-examination is a great way to show that you are reasonable outside the courtroom as well.

For more information on how to handle cross-examinations, contact Andersen Law PC today at beth@andersenlawpc.com or 720-922-3880.

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Where Does My Property Go If I Die Without a Will?

If you die without a will, your property goes where the state tells it to go. Being will-less is called being “intestate.” Each state has its own intestacy statutes that determine what happens to your estate when you have no will. What happens to my property if I don't have a will? Andersen Law PC explains

However, not all property is covered by these statutes (or included in a will if you have one). This property will transfer to whoever you name as beneficiary or to a surviving co-owner. This includes proceeds from a life insurance policy, property you have already transferred to a trust, retirement account funds, such as 401(k)s or IRAs, property owned in joint tenancy with someone else, real estate held by beneficiary deed or by transfer-on-death, payable-on-death bank accounts, and securities held in a transfer-on-death account. Read More »

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