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How and why to keep the kids out of your divorce

happygirl_Andersen_Law_PCI want to address the issue of putting the kids in the middle of a divorce tug of war. Don’t do it! It’s natural that when the other parent slings mud at you, puts you down to the children or tries to pull them over to their side, you want to defend yourself and “pull back.” But unfortunately, in the situation of divorce, that only hurts the children by putting them in the middle. Research shows that children who deal with parental conflict often see their sleep habits affected and have ongoing emotional issues. Instead, the better course is to:

– Get curious about the child’s feelings and point of view.

– Ask questions about the child’s perspective (NOT probing questions about the other parent).

– Teach the child to use critical thinking skills and draw their own conclusions.

– Reassure the child that the adults will take care of adult business and they do not have to worry about those issues or fix them. (By the way, “grown-up business” includes money issues, payment or nonpayment of support and fees, court proceedings, dating relationships, fault or “wrongdoing” in divorce — knowing about these issues often gives children all the worry and angst adults have but without any ability to fix things or make a difference. Involving children in adult issues “parentifies” them and that is damaging.)

ABOVE ALL, focus on making YOUR OWN TIME with your children as positive and valuable as possible. This does not mean being a Disney parent without rules or being a best friend. You still have to be a grown-up parent and do the hard things, but just parent as best you can when you can and remember to have fun too. That will plant a seed that blossoms into a better relationship than a landfill of trash talking could ever hope to accomplish.

Strangely enough, this IS legal advice. Colorado law requires you to act in your child’s best interests and also to foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent. Judges are not afraid to get involved or even limit parenting time when one parent “doesn’t get it” or keeps dragging the children into a divorce tug of war.

Andersen Law PC: when I help you write a good parenting plan and act in your child’s best interest, I protect your family, your finances and your future.

The Future of Family Law: Pairing Mediation & Unbundled Services

andersen law pc courtroom

Your divorce, support and parental responsibilities cases involve the most critical issues in your life: your family, your finances and your future. And yet 75 percent of parties in the first judicial district do not have an attorney in their domestic relations case. This is akin to wandering into a hospital to perform surgery by yourself with no assistance.

What will you do when you cannot get a piece of evidence admitted? When you do not how to read and distinguish case law? When the opposing party’s attorney or the judge or mediator asks you a legal question and you have no idea what they are talking about? Terrible results can happen, including an unenforceable parenting agreement or a financial mistake that costs thousands.

Mediation alone will not solve this, but if you have an unbundled lawyer “on call,” you may be able to respond quickly and knowledgeably. My retainer is $500 for unbundled services. I can attend mediation with you or stand by on the telephone, giving advice as needed. Call me to discuss this affordable, creative option.

 

Sharing Unique Aspects of my Practice with Law Students

denver university law school andersen law pc

On April 9, 2015, I was honored to appear with five other panelists to present to Denver University Law School students on entrepreneurial lawyering.

Increasingly, law students are embracing the option of hanging their own shingles rather than waiting for an offer to work for another attorney. The panel pointed out advantages of solo practice including flexibility, the ability to serve clients more efficiently and affordably, the lack of restraints on innovation and the unlimited creative control over the direction of the practice.

Students had several questions and were excited to hear that there are alternatives to the pressures and inefficiencies of traditional practice. I discussed creative billing and representation options such as unbundled legal services and video conferencing. Call me to discuss how this model can best help you with your family law issues.

What to Consider When Writing a Will

Thinking about death and leaving loved ones behind is never easy and is unfortunately, something that many people put off because it’s just not a pleasant thought. But it is important and something people have been facing through the writing of wills since the earliest days of written history, according to the American Bar Association. Writing a will is imperative to easing the stress on your family as much as possible if something should happen to you, and it can give everyone (yourself included) peace of mind knowing there is a plan in place.

Done correctly, wills go far in ensuring that your assets are directed where you want them to be and that any possible disputes between surviving family members are minimized because all matters of your estate are clearly addressed.

When you’ve decided that it’s time to prepare a will, here are a few things to consider:

  • What type of funeral do you want?
  • Who will manage your money, debts and health care decisions?
  • What will happen to your home?
  • Who will care for your children and what are those caregivers’ names and addresses?
  • What are your main assets?
  • Are there gifts of personal property you want to leave to specific people?

Estate planning, including not only wills, but trusts and living wills are a specialty of mine, and I offer these packages at an affordable rate of $500 per person or $750 per couple. I encourage you to please contact me if you’d like to learn more.

What Makes a Great Attorney?

Gavel and Law Book

Being a lawyer is not just a job to me — it’s my calling. I do not take the responsibility lightly. As a client, you are coming to me for help with personal and critical events like divorce, parenting time and estate planning. These go to the heart of life: your FAMILY, FINANCES, FUTURE. That’s why it’s not enough to be a good lawyer; I strive to be a GREAT lawyer.

GUIDANCE: A good lawyer uses knowledge of the law to help make a good argument for the client. But a GREAT lawyer uses knowledge of the law and wisdom of experience to help the client realize broader goals than the case, to behave appropriately outside the courtroom and going forward. A GREAT lawyer knows legal fees, the stress of litigation and the toll on the long-term relationships are just as important as winning motions and trials.

RESPECT: A good lawyer takes the reins and says “don’t worry about it.” So you don’t until you get the bill or a shocking result.  A GREAT lawyer works collaboratively with you as a two-person team; respects your point of view; and is mindful of your financial and time restrictions.

EXCELLENCE: A good lawyer handles every case similarly based on a time-tested model. A GREAT lawyer realizes that each case is unique and may require additional research, attention or creativity above and beyond the norm. A GREAT lawyer will go the extra mile even if she can’t bill it to the client. She NEVER churns a case just to get a higher fee. She constantly studies, networks and trains to keep pace with the latest legal developments.

ATTITUDE: Many good lawyers see themselves as well educated professionals whose time is precious and who need to be feared and obeyed. A GREAT lawyer has the same education and experience, but realizes that interactions with clients need to be positive, patient and personable. A GREAT lawyer is not afraid to get creative and try things like “unbundled legal services” because they serve clients better and more affordably.

TECHNOLOGY: The legal field moves at a glacial pace when it comes to technology and other basic business developments.  Many good lawyers act as if “snail mail” and checking in with the client once a month are state of the art. GREAT lawyers use online communication, affordable research models and independent contractors to avoid excessive overhead. GREAT lawyers participate in video conferencing and regular online billing to keep you on top of your fees and case progress. GREAT lawyers text, read email, answer their cell phones after hours and act as if we live in the 21st century. You deserve it!

New Family Law Practice Means More Options, Convenience for Clients

Beth Andersen

As you may know, I recently branched out into my own solo practice, Andersen Law PC. Although I am on my own now, with offices in Littleton, my clients are continuing to receive the strong support and guidance that I have always provided.

At my new practice, I’m continuing to practice law I am passionate about, helping clients navigate through family law and estate planning. I have a stellar back office  and network of advisers working as a team for you. Meanwhile, I am your single point of contact. If I take your case, you will be working directly with me; not with a paralegal or junior associate.

Launching Andersen Law PC means that I can offer clients even more benefits than ever before.  I can now be more creative with my billing, offering full service representation with affordable retainers, “unbundled” a la carte legal services — paying as you go — and anything in between.

In order to be available to my clients in ways that are convenient for them, I am always seeking new technology to use as well. For example, I offer video conferencing, online document sharing, e-billing and credit card payment, text updates and automated document organization — all at affordable price points.

My new offices are conveniently located at the intersection of C-470 and Ken Caryl and the building, which says “Pickard & Ross,” can clearly be seen from C-470. You can find me there eager to help with your family law issue or estate planning.

Simply Listening Can Help Someone Facing Family Law Issues

Friends talking

It’s ironic that I often hear “I don’t know anyone facing divorce or a family law issue.”  Within the week, a mutual friend is in my office for advice on those very issues. Obviously, none of us knew.  And even after I have a client, that fact is confidential. Unless someone reaches out, no one will know — perhaps for many painful months of isolation.

We keep family issues private, minding our own business and not wanting to air dirty laundry. Discretion is critical. Yet, rethink your take on privacy: people tend to feel very isolated when going through family law problems and need someone who is there for them.

You don’t need to have all the answers. Simply listening when someone mentions their family law issue is a great service and act of kindness, and will make them feel better.

If you know or believe someone is dealing with family law issues, you shouldn’t necessarily push them to talk, but letting them know that you are there for them can be appreciated. They may be holding it in, unsure of who to turn to, and you simply offering your ear can ease their mind and help them to not feel alone.

Especially around holidays, people feel isolated as they look around seeing other happier families, or do not get to be with their children. It’s around those dates in particular that it is so important to reach out to those who are struggling. Lending your ear can be more of a gift than you ever could imagine.

Though Helpful, a Mediator Does Not Replace a Lawyer in Divorce Proceedings

Mediation can be an excellent way to make progress and, ideally, resolve your divorce proceeding. In an era when the courts are overrun with divorces and have little time to address critical issues about your family and finances, mediation gives you more control over results.

However, a mediator does NOT replace an attorney.  A mediator CANNOT give legal advice or tell you whether the agreement you are signing is fair to you.

That is where a family law attorney like myself comes in to the picture. At the very least, I can review the separation and parenting time agreements before you sign them to make sure they protect your interests. In addition, I can advise you as to negotiation strategies and even participate in the mediation session to ensure you are making the correct legal arguments to optimize your results.  I also am very specific about the excellent mediators I refer for each case and client. That choice can make a huge difference and I know the mediators who will work best for you.

Mediation and legal representation can work together like hand and glove. Do not neglect mediation, but do not forget to protect yourself with a lawyer’s critical advice. Usually you cannot afford NOT to know your rights.

Unbundled Legal Services Offer a Way for Many to Hire a Divorce Attorney

When you hear the term “divorce attorney,” what comes to mind? Do you think of celebrities in the tabloids with their high-profile multi-million dollar divorces, custody battles and “conscious uncoupling”? Maybe you don’t take it quite that far, but you do think divorce attorneys are only for the wealthy. Fortunately, that is just a myth. You do not have to be rich to hire a divorce attorney.

Unbundled legal services offer a more affordable way for people to retain legal representation in a divorce. With unbundled legal services for divorce, you pay as you go and only pay for as much or as little legal assistance as you choose to use.  This model allows for a reasonable retainer as well.

For example, I can coach you through a court conference or hearing so you are well prepared to handle it on your own. I can attend a hearing and withdraw after it is complete, allowing you to follow up on your own. I can also write your pleadings for you, edit your own drafts or review pleadings served on you to devise a strategy. One of the most important things I do is to review a separation agreement and advise clients as to its legal implications, often saving them heartache, court fees and unnecessary disputes in the process.

I offer unbundled legal services in the Greater Denver areas in order to make sure my clients get the representation that best suits them, at the price point they can afford.

 

What is Family Law?

Because attorneys practice so many types of law, it can be confusing to know which type of lawyer you need. Many people think that Family Law attorneys like myself only assist clients with divorce, but that is a myth. The truth is that divorces are far from the only thing I do.

Family Law includes several types of cases, such as:

  • prenuptial agreements (also called prenups)
  • postnuptial agreements (also called postnups)
  • cohabitation agreements
  • legal separations
  • annulments
  • mediation
  • adoptions including step parent adoptions
  • parenting time
  • maintenance (also called alimony or spousal support)
  • division of property
  • child support
  • civil unions
  • allocation of parental responsibilities
  • dependency and neglect proceedings
  • contempt
  • protection orders
  • post-decree issues
  • enforcement of court orders
  • relocations
  • grandparent proceedings
  • guardianships

Basically, any type of legal issue a family may have is “Family Law,” just what it sounds like in the name. The above are all Family Law cases I handle. If you or someone you know is in need of Family Law representation in the Greater Denver area, please have them contact me.