Can My Personal History Be Used Against Me in My Divorce and Custody Case?

How Your Personal History May be Used Against You in Your Divorce and Custody Case

As a divorce attorney, I have seen seemingly cordial relationships dissolve into bitter fights once it came time to actually split up the marital assets and determine a custody/parenting time schedule. Someone who once felt like your closest confidant transforms into a powerful adversary, and any and all personal history can come into play.

If you are preparing to go through a divorce, it’s worth taking inventory of your own personal history and legal record to get a sense of the skeletons that may be about to jump out of the closet, especially if you have a difficult relationship with your future ex-spouse.

While a good divorce attorney will help you through this process, there is still work to do on your own. If you’re ready for legal counsel, call us at 303-449-1873 to set up a complimentary consultation.

What’s on Your Record?

If I were to run a background check on you, what would come up? Do you have old DUIs, DWAIs or drug charges that will appear on your record? These days in Boulder County, some marijuana charges can be expunged. How about domestic violence charges or speeding tickets?

If you have children, and the other parent is trying to gain the upper hand in custody negotiations, be prepared for all that old stuff to come up as they attempt to demonstrate that you are not the best parent to have custody and/or expanded parenting time. Or, they may try to say that you have a drug or alcohol problem, and bring up old DUI or DWAI charges. All is fair in love and war.

As you can imagine, if you are trying to get custody of a child (and it doesn’t matter how old the child is), if there are convictions of sexual or physical abuse on the child, those things will more likely come into play in a big way.

Real-Life Example

Years ago, I had a divorce case where the father wanted to restrict the mother’s parenting time. He argued that she was a careless driver, and even brought up three traffic violations from her past as examples. Over the course of seven years, she had once ran a red light, once gotten pulled over for having a broken tail light, and once gotten her car towed because she parked in a permitted residential parking zone without a permit.

The father tried to argue that, because she was careless enough to make these mistakes, the children weren’t safe with her when she drove and she shouldn’t be allowed to have 50% parenting time with their two small children. We went to Court and argued that all her tickets were for normal, day-to-day infractions, and the judge agreed with us.

The example above just goes to show you how petty a custody proceeding can become when one side is determined to get their way no matter what.

Colorado is a No-Fault Divorce State

No matter a person’s character strengths or flaws, the judge will do his or her best to be completely unbiased in determining how the marital estate should be divided up and how the custody/parenting time arrangement should be made. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, which means that even if your spouse has a terrible cocaine habit that ultimately was the cause of your divorce, they won’t be penalized in the property division aspect of the case. However, these issues can be raised when it comes to children-related issues. [If a party has substantially depleted the marital estate because of improper conduct, the Court can consider that. It’s not punishing the party for his/her improper conduct, but can take into account depletion of the marital estate. By way of example, if he or she snorted away half a million dollars while you were married, the judge may consider granting you the remainder of the marital estate, considering the situation. But again, this is a very specific scenario.

Keep in mind that everything is relative. Charges from 10 or 15 years ago might not be relevant at all; the judge knows that people change and grow. That said, if the charges are serious enough, they could turn the tide of your case.

Every divorce is different and everyone deserves strong, thorough legal representation. Call our office today at 303-449-1873 to set up a complimentary consultation.

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