New Advance Directive Provides Peace of Mind if Dementia Strikes

If you have a history of dementia or Alzheimer’s in your family this is a form you may want to consider. In 2019, we started using an Advance Directive form called a “Voluntary Advance Directive for Fluids and Oral Feedings in the Event of Dementia.” It is quite a mouthful to say. The most common question is why is it necessary to have this when you have a Living Will or a completed Medical Order for Scope of Treatment, also know as a MOST form, or Five Wishes form. The short answer is because it is not truly covered in those documents.

Living Wills, a MOST form or Five Wishes form all deal with the type of treatments you want done if you are facing a vegetative state or terminal illness. These are good forms to have and they help guide your medical agent and doctor so you get the type of care you want in the event you are facing a vegetative state or terminal illness. What they do not cover is a situation where you are suffering from dementia.

Dementia is a state where your brain cells have been damaged to the point it is affecting your ability to communicate. It essentially can affect your thinking, behavior, and feelings. Not everyone will suffer from dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia. It is also not a normal part of aging. Having dementia or Alzheimer’s is not the same as having a terminal illness or being in a vegetative state. There are many different causes of dementia. For more information you may wish to check out the Alzheimer’s Association.

Should your loved ones find themselves in a position where you are suffering from dementia and are being cared for either by independent caregivers or in a facility, there may come a time when a doctor asks if your loved ones know what you would want when it comes to oral feedings or fluids. Oral feedings include being fed by another person either a normal meal or foods that have been softened or liquefied/pureed. Fluids generally mean a liquid form of nourishment administered through a feeding tube or intravenously. If you have moderate to advanced dementia you may not be able to communicate your desires. If you have completed this Advance Directive, then your agents will know exactly what your wishes are.

This Advance Directive provides information for when you can no longer feed yourself. The options are simple. They cover two circumstances: 1) if you want to have food and liquids withheld; or 2) if you want to continue to be fed by others when you cannot feed yourself. Option one is self explanatory. Option two basically says you want to be fed until you refuse all forms of nourishment. It also specifies what you want to be fed and for how long.

This document speaks for you and provides guidance to your loved ones and medical staff when you cannot do so yourself. If you have a family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease it can be a helpful tool in your estate plan. As always consult with an attorney to determine whether or not this form is right for you.

Written by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for


How to Stop Exclusion of Loved Ones During Times of Crisis Before It Happens


We hear the stories all the time about loved ones being excluded from hospital or hospice rooms because the family does not want him or her there. These days many people choose to live together rather than getting married. This only poses a problem when their companion is dying or hospitalized and the rest of the family decides the companion should be excluded. If there is nothing to state otherwise, the family can do this causing much pain to the companion and ignoring the desires of the loved one. It is a heartbreaking situation that could be remedied through advanced medical directive planning.

Visitor passIn 2010 a federal rule was instituted giving patients the right to designate who they did and did not want to see while hospitalized. The rule was to promote an equality of sorts by not giving exclusive visiting rights to family only. However, when a patient is not conscious or is unable to voice what visitors they want, it then falls on the person the patient has designated as their agent to speak for them in those circumstances. The agent then decides who will and will not be seeing the patient. If there is no designated agent then the family decides. Sadly, this is how family can sometimes exclude companions.

What is an advanced medical directive? A living will, a medical power of attorney, or a declaration of life. Generally living wills and medical powers of attorney tell doctors, hospitals, family and the world what you want to be done in the event you cannot voice your opinion on your medical care whether because of mental incapacity or medical situation (e.g., coma, persistent vegetative state, etc.). Many different things go into these documents regarding whether or not to use feeding tubes or electronic devices to sustain life or the appearance of life. There are requirements that dictate consultation with more than one doctor. Essentially everything is laid out for your agent and a doctor or doctors to follow as to your care.

hipaaA remedy would be to add to your medical power of attorney and living will that you want your companion to have equal access to you as if he or she were family. A simple paragraph added to both the living will and the medical power of attorney can prevent the exclusion of a companion from your side in the hospital, hospice or care facility. Also adding the companion to a HIPAA release for your medical information gives him or her access to your medical records and allows a doctor or hospital/facility to speak with him or her directly.


Part of what a living will and medical power of attorney are supposed to accomplish is making sure your wishes are followed at times when you cannot participate in your care. Establishing that either: your companion is your agent for health care or is someone you want kept in the loop and allowed access to you when you cannot voice it yourself is important. Directly expressing that lets doctors, facilities, hospitals and courts know what you are expecting and what you want when it comes down to it. It takes the guess work out of what you would want to have happen.

Everyone would like to believe such a situation would never happen to them. However, a medical crisis does not always bring out the best in everyone. It is better to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Talk to your estate lawyer about options and planning.

Written by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for

Creating Healthy Boundaries After Divorce

Fence 3

When looking to set appropriate boundaries after divorce here are some things to keep in mind. Healthy boundaries can be hard to establish and to keep in place, but they will make a world of difference to you, your ex and your children. Ever changing boundaries are confusing to everyone involved.

Too much information. Neither you nor your ex is entitled to delve into each other’s personal lives. You have separate lives now and the less either of you gets involved in each other’s personal issues the less conflict you will have. It is not your business who your ex is dating, or what he/she is doing; and vice versa.

Boundary 5

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. You cannot get respect if you do not give it. Communicate in an efficient and respectful way with each other. Do not blame or accuse, but inquire. Keep all communication brief to the matter at hand. Do not ask personal questions or give personal advice or criticisms. Respecting boundaries, whether the other person has established them or not, helps you keep your own boundaries and show self-respect.

Be the bigger person. This is always hard. The saying is that it takes two to tango. You do not pick the fight, and you do not engage in the fight. If the conflict escalates, you walk away until things cool down. Disengaging is always better than saying things you cannot take back later or may be sorry for if brought up in court. You are no longer married and you can always walk away from the conversation. Avoiding a conversation, however, does not make it go away. Some conversation is necessary when children are involved.Couple boundaries

Bashing not allowed. Do not bash your ex where your children can hear it or let other people do so. The same goes for friends and family. Even if you think they cannot hear you, they probably can. It creates conflict and confusion for children to hear negative things about either parent. They want their parents to love them and keep them safe. Tearing down the other parent leaves children groping for a life boat. Children feel they have to take sides and make each parent happy. It is unfair to put any child in that position. Children do not need the stress of dealing with adult issues. Protecting your children is more than just getting a divorced. It is about making sure they do not get dragged into anyone’s baggage.

Keep the children out of the middle. The children should not be the intermediaries and carry messages or schedules between parents. It is not the children’s responsibility to do these things and places an unfair and sometimes overwhelming burden on them. If the other parent is doing this, stay firm and communicate with them about the message/schedule, and add politely not to send such messages with the children. Sometimes communicating by email or through a message board like can be helpful in establishing these boundaries. If the behavior continues you may want to consult your attorney.

Child Tug of War

Your ex’s happiness is not your responsibility. You are divorced. It is not your job or duty to make sure your ex is happy or content. This goes with #1. If your ex is having problems with anything other than the children you do not have to fix it, give advice, or take on their problem for them. Also your ex is no longer your support. Establish a group of friends, relatives and professionals to give you needed support and advice.

Blood is thicker than water. Keeping a good working relationship with the ex in-laws is always nice. However, make sure your friendship with them is actually a friendship and not just because you were part of the family. Do not expect them to pick your side of a conflict. Your ex should not be a subject of conversation at all and they should not be contacting you to complain about either you or your ex.


Establish your own routines and home. Your home is your home. When your ex is in your home or you in his/hers, that person is a house guest. House guests should be treated as such and you need to make sure he/she understands it is not their home and they are a guest. It is not an opportunity to criticize or invade the other person’s privacy. Your ex should not expect to come into your home and “hang out” with the kids and vice versa.Boundary 1Zero tolerance for abuse. This boundary goes hand-in-hand with #2. You cannot continue to try to communicate or reason with a person who is yelling, demeaning, or belligerent to you. Feel free to say the conversation is not productive and you are going to hang up. Then hang up. Zero tolerance is exactly that – zero. After hanging up do not answer repeated calls or text messages or emails about the communication until you and your ex have had a chance to calm down. You may want to say you need an hour or a day and will get back to them about the issue. Engaging in conflict is not healthy and you need to sever that emotional tie to your ex. Keep your dignity and voice your fears and frustration to friends and not your ex. By doing this you maintain control of your emotions and yourself.

Child support/spousal maintenance. These are not gifts from your ex to you. These are ordered support payments and do not give your ex the right to criticize, comment on, or belittle you regarding your job, finances, etc. Keep your financial circumstances to yourself for your own protection. Do not beg, plead or compromise yourself where it puts you in an inferior position from your ex. If you are having trouble getting your payments, contact a lawyer or your county Child Support Enforcement Unit.

Different parenting styles. Every parent has a different style of parenting. You need to accept that your ex will not do things exactly as you do and move on. As long as the children are not in imminent danger, parents are allowed to parent their children in their individual way. Setting these boundaries with the children is also important. They should know what to expect from you for rules, discipline, etc. Just because something does not apply in your ex’s home does not mean they are not held to that standard in your home. When possible, do your best to coordinate disciplinary issues so the children do not receive conflicting messages.

Do Not Cross

Establishing healthy and consistent boundaries is difficult and takes many tries.  Do not be discouraged if it does not work immediately.  Setting boundaries takes time and reminding.  Stay firm and know that eventually these boundaries will help you establish your own peace and new life.

Written by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for

What is the “Best Interests of the Child”?

parent-child hands

Whether it is an action for the allocation of parental responsibilities or an action for divorce, Colorado’s standard for determining parenting time, residential custody, and decision-making is called the best interests of the child. It can be found at Colorado Revised Statutes, 14-10-124. The purpose of this standard is to nurture a loving relationship between the child and both parents and to give the child frequent and continuing contact with both parents, where appropriate.

The point of this standard is to put the needs of the child above those of the parents and to accommodate those needs as much as possible given the particular circumstances. The child’s safety, physical/mental/emotional well being, and needs are given predominant consideration by the court. Consideration is also given to extenuating circumstances such as a history of domestic abuse, child neglect/abuse, convictions for sexual assault, and other crimes related to children.


Statutory factors include:

  1. The wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;
  2. The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
  3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  4. The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
  6. The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party; except that, if the court determines that a party is acting to protect the child from witnessing domestic violence or from being a victim of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, the party’s protective actions shall not be considered with respect to this factor;
  7. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
  8. The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time; and
  9. The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.

Colorado Revised Statutes, 14-10-124 (1.5).


As you can see there is no presumption that a mother is more qualified to care for the child more than a father. Although some allowances are made if the child is an infant, it certainly depends on the facts of the individual case. Factors which weigh in the Court’s decision are claims of child abuse/neglect, domestic violence, or sexual assault (especially as applied to children who are conceived as a result of that assault). This can also affect decision-making allocation.

In decision-making, even if the above conditions exist, if the parties show they have been able to make decisions for the children together in the past the Court may be inclined to grant joint decision-making. There are also circumstances in which the Court would grant sole decision-making for the safety and and well being of the abused party and the child. See, Colorado Revised Statutes, 14-10-124 (1.5)(b).

Mother-SonMany times a Child and Family Investigator (“CFI”) or Parental Rights Evaluator
(“PRE”) is appointed by the Court to provide a neutral perspective on the situation and what is in the best interests of the children involved. The costs of a CFI or PRE vary from $2,000 to more than $10,000. After evaluation and investigation these experts file a confidential report to the Court with a summary of their findings and recommendations about the children. These reports are sealed from outside viewing, but the parties and their attorneys, if applicable, will also be given copies. Colorado Revised Statutes, 14-10-116.5 and 14-10-127.

In 2013, this statute was amended to make more specific provisions for situations involving domestic violence/abuse, child abuse/neglect, and perpetrators of sexual assault. If the Court finds there is a believable history or sufficient evidence that any of these factors exist the Court can restrict parenting time to the perpetrating party, order counseling or evaluations, enter protective orders, and other relief to provide that the victim and the children are protected while still preserving the rights of the offending parent.

Every case is different and you should always consult with an attorney about the options and your rights in any case dealing with parental responsibilities (divorce, neglect or custody cases). Foremost the Court is going to do what will protect, nurture and promote a loving relationship between every child and both of their parents. The goal is to impact the children as little as possible even though their parents are no longer together.

Written by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for

Coffee Cans Full of Money

coffee cansCoffee cans, old trunks, books, drawers and anything else that a person could use to stash some cash should be gone through thoroughly before any estate sale, or disposing of property for any decedent’s or protected persons estate. Why? Because sometimes you can discover thousands of dollars in cash or valuables that even the family did not know existed.

steamer trunkMany years ago, I was appointed by the court as a trustee over a decedent’s testamentary trust. A testamentary trust is a trust that is created by a person’s will to the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The estate had little money and few assets. By the time I entered the picture the house been sold but a plethora of personal property remained.  The estate had placed the personal property of the decedent in storage and it was time to transfer it to the trust and figure out if any of it could be sold or if it should be given back to the family. That storage unit was a treasure chest in disguise.

The decedent’s spouse had died over 20 years before her. He had had a healthy distrust for banks.  After his death his old steamer trunks sat in the garage untouched gathering dust, spiders, and cobwebs. No keys could be found for them which was probably the reason. Once the locks were drilled I discovered old coffee cans, tins and small boxes full of money rolls – mostly twenties. In the end the trust more than doubled in value from the money hidden in those two old trunks.

Rolls of Money

For whatever reason – a distrust of banks, a need to hide money from others, or just a compulsion – many of the elderly take to hiding cash around their house. There have been other estates where money was found in china cabinets, old shoe boxes, dresser drawers, and the like. So it is always a good idea to check out everything before you sell it, toss it, or give it away. You never know if Aunt Dotty or Uncle Joe liked to hide money and you could be giving away thousands without knowing.

old booksIt is tedious to go through everything, and many times people are still dealing with their own grief which makes the job that much more difficult. Hidden in the piles of seemingly worthless gadgets, suitcases, and more can be treasures which would enhance the value of the estate. Items like hand sewn or homemade quilts, limited edition figurines or books, old dolls or toys, old furniture may have more value than you realize. Not everything you find will be valuable, but you may find items for keepsakes which hold value in more than just money.

old quiltWritten by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for

Who Is Taking Care of Jane Doe

Can facilities in Colorado gain control of patient assets?

nursing home

Alzheimer Disease, dementia, and other illnesses can steal away the memories of our loved ones and incapacitate them to the point they cannot take care of their own needs and finances. When this happens, if a power of attorney is not in place, families can apply to the courts for the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator. We shared an article on our Facebook page (“Bourrillion & Geiger, LLC on Facebook) regarding nursing care facilities in Delaware applying and receiving guardianship over some of their residents to satisfy the costs of care for those residents. It triggered a concern in many on whether that can happen in Colorado.

A guardian serves to help make decisions about the support, care, education, health and welfare of the “protected person.” Guardians are usually appointed when a person needs help making effective decisions about their own care. Much of the time this happens when the individual is elderly, or suffering from a disease like Alzheimer’s or dementia; or if the individual suffers from some cognitive deficiency – closed brain trauma, diminished I.Q., etc – which affects them making good decisions for their care. It does require that a doctor familiar with the person recommend the need for a guardian.

eldelry hands

Under the Colorado Probate Code guardians and conservators can be appointed for individuals who are incapacitated or cannot manage their own care and finances. Specifically, §15-14-310 of the Colorado Revised Statutes states which persons have priority of appointment in these cases and what restrictions exist. Generally, family members seek out these appointments to help elderly parents, aunts, uncles, etc. when their minds start to fade. Barring certain circumstances family allows has priority of appointment as a guardian/conservator.

In addition, to their priority of appointment, family members can also serve in a dual role of guardian and conservator, where a third unrelated party may be barred from appointment to both positions. This is to prevent fraud and to safe guard the person, and their assets. In Colorado an owner, operation, or employee of a long-term care provider where the protected person is receiving care cannot be appointed unless they are related by blood, marriage or adoption. A safeguard that Delaware did not have which lead to facilities getting appointed as guardians and taking all the patient’s assets and money.

Lonely wheelchair

For the most part it is usually family who is appointed to these fiduciary positions. However, when there is no family then friends, accountants, other persons familiar with the person or those who accept judicial appointments from the court can serve in that capacity. The biggest problem with an unfamiliar person holding this role is that it can cost the protected person money for their services whereas family and/or friends will usually not charge for their time.

The purpose of the probate code is to protect the elderly, incapacitated and deceased. When a state fails to keep up with the times or give a hard look for loopholes in their laws it can be devastating to persons in this position. If you have any questions, you can always contact an attorney for advice.

Written by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for

Just You Wait Until Lil Johnny’s Twelve

An Overview of Child and Family Investigators, Child Legal Representatives and Parental Responsibilities Evaluators

custodyDivorced parents are fond of saying that at a certain age their children can go into court and “tell [the court] the truth” which will lead to changes in parenting time, decision-making, etc. The most common age they claim this can happen is when the child is twelve years old. There is no rule in Colorado on what age a child has to be to voice his/her opinion on parenting time. There is no hard and fast rule that says a court has to speak to the children. Generally children are not allowed in the courtroom during proceedings involving them and their parents. However, there are alternatives to allow their voices to be heard such as Child and Family Investigators, Child Legal Representatives, or Parental Responsibilities Evaluators.

On occasion a judge or magistrate will talk directly to a child to find out what his/her opinion is or what the child desires for an outcome. This is done on the record and out of the presence of the parents and their attorneys. These records are normally sealed and require a court order for good cause to be released. Generally, it has to be a very good reason to open these sealed records to parties. This is not a common occurrence and some judges will not allow it at all. When it does happen the children are usually teenagers and/or mature for their years.


This does not mean the judge will order what the child wants, but the judge will take the impressions and information garnered from such a conversation into account when issuing orders. Requesting a child be allowed to talk directly to the court is not something to be done lightly or without serious consideration of the pressure this puts on the child. It is not recommended that this be done with children who are very young. Having a child come to court is quite literally placing the child between the parties and smack dab in the middle of the fighting.

benefits-of-joint-custodyThere are other ways to take into account the wishes and opinions of the child. The most common way in Colorado is a Child and Family Investigator or CFI. This person is a neutral party appointed by the court, usually recommended by the attorneys in the case, to investigate all allegations and make recommendations to the court based upon their thorough investigation and the best interests of the child(ren). Barring exceptional circumstances, e.g., out of state travel for investigation, CFI fees in Colorado are capped at $2,000 with each party usually bearing one-half of the costs. These fees are due up front before an investigation begins. There are some CFI would take state assistance for those who qualify.

A CFI will speak with the parents and the child(ren) among others during the course of an investigation. The CFI files a report with the court at the end of the investigations with recommendations. A CFI is useful when there are allegations of drug/alcohol abuse by a parent or child, neglect or endangerment of a child by a parent, domestic violence, alienation of parental affections, and relocating with the child to another state. Where a CFI is not useful is where the parents simply do not get along and do not agree or communicate well. Just because one parent is unhappy is not a reason to request the appointment of a CFI.

Professional TestimonyAnother option is a Parental Responsibilities Evaluation or PRE. These are usually done by mental health professionals and can run over $10,000 and there is no cap on the expense. A PRE can ask for mental health evaluations or conduct testing if they are qualified. The PRE usually discusses issues with both parties, the child(ren) and interviews persons involved with the child. When there are issues of abuse or serious mental health issues a PRE can be helpful to the parties and the court. Again a PRE is most effective in situations which involve more than one parent being unhappy with the current situation.

On the opposite end is a Child Legal Representative or CLR. This is an attorney assigned to represent the child’s best interests which is different that representing the child’s interests. A CLR does not submit a report or testify in court. The CLR acts as an attorney at all proceedings including questioning and calling witnesses to testify. A CLR is useful in cases where there are older children such as teenagers and many times can help all parties reach a resolution outside of court. The parents are responsible for the payment of the CLR fees.

Child Tug of War

A prime consideration needs to be are you putting your child in the middle of a dispute with your ex to further your interests or your child’s. Children should not be asked to choose between parents. Although we always counsel clients not to ask their children to choose there is frequently one parent who does or who does not understand that what they are asking of the child equals making them choose between parents. Children are the innocent bystanders in divorce and custody cases. It is not their choice for their parents to divorce or dispute custody. Many times they are the casualties of these proceedings. So, yes, you can ask that Lil Johnny be allowed to talk to the court, but ask yourself if you really want to put Johnny in that position.

Written by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

WillA common question is why does a person need a Last Will and Testament. There are many reasons and some of them you may not realize. Whether it is to make sure your property and your remains are taken care of in the manner you would like or to make a record of what your desires are without interference of the courts.

Many people deed their real estate into joint tenancy with rights of survivorship with their children or whomever they wish to inherit the property. They wish to avoid probate court, attorney costs and “hassle”. However, in doing this their heirs may be subject to capital gains taxes that they could possibly have avoided by selling the house or land through an estate. In addition, depending on when the house or land is deeded to others it can affect your qualification for benefits such as Medicaid to help with your long-term care. Other complications can include difficulties obtaining a reverse mortgage, debates about mental competency of the person giving away the property or undue influence on that person by those listed on the deed.


Probate need not cost an arm and a leg, depending on the work needed to be done, the Personal Representative’s willingness to shoulder the majority of the work and how much property, real or personal, you have at the time of your passing. Having a Will gives your heirs direction and takes the guess-work out of what they think “Grandma” or “Dad” would want done. It relieves them of the burden of trying to figure out what you would have wanted done. Another advantage is that your wishes are clear and must be followed.

If you pass without a Will you risk every action taken by you prior to your death being questioned and children or friends who have helped you being grilled about how they have taken advantage of you. It can lead to greater litigation when truly people should be grieving and not fighting. Also depending on who out lives you, you may not want your estate to be divided according to the Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 15. Dying without a Will could mean that the Court will divide up your property according to who the law says gets top priority if that your parents or your spouse or your children. This becomes complicated when you have remarried and your children are not the children of your current spouse.

Divide the Pie

Information needed to make a Will is simple: names, addresses and dates of birth for all heirs; knowing what property and accounts you own, as well as, life insurance policies, annuities, etc.; having one person to handle carrying out your Will and a back up in case the person you choose cannot act as your Personal Representative; and an idea of how you want things to be done. A good lawyer can advise you on if your estate will have to pay taxes or how best to handle leaving funds to persons with disabilities or minors.

Making a Will is painless and, in the long run, cost-effective. Costs of having a Will drafted will depend on how complicated you want your estate plan. In the end, what it saves is guess-work, frustration and a heavier burden for those already grieving your passing.

Written by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for

Equitable versus Equal In Divorce


The common question some clients ask is how many divorce cases have you won. Each case is subjective and each client is unique in their needs and goals. Truly there are no winners in a divorce. It is, sometimes, a traumatic unraveling of a part of a person’s life that they cannot get back. This is compounded by the division of their belongings, major assets and the separation of debts.

Colorado is an equitable division state for all assets and debts accumulated during a marriage regardless of whose name the asset or debt is in. One thing that is different in Colorado is that any property a person has before the marriage remains their separate property unless a person deliberately co-mingles the asset with marital assets. However, any increase in the value of that separate asset during the marriage can be divided.


Equitable division of assets and debts can be confusing as most people think that means everything is divided 50/50. This is not necessarily so and depends on a variety of different factors and the specific circumstances of each case. A judge may divide assets in a way which seems unequal in order to equalize the circumstances of each party. Essentially this puts both parties on the same ground financially. It can be as simple as one person gets the marital house without buying out the other party and the other gets to keep all of his/her retirement – if it is a simple exchange of values.

equitable_mortgageIt is important to know what assets and debts you feel strongly you should keep or should be the other person’s responsibility. You need to understand that a lopsided division which may penalize one party is not necessarily going to be something a court will agree to or order. Being a “no fault” divorce state, Colorado does not necessarily take wrongdoing into account when dividing assets. Many judges do not want to hear about the string of affairs of one party because it is not deemed relevant to divide assets. There are always exceptions to this depending on circumstances. For instance if one party has a gambling problem, situations involving domestic violence and abuse or child abuse, and, sometimes, even one party spending lavish amounts on an extramarital affair to the detriment of the marital assets. This is not an exclusive list, but merely possible examples.

Dividing debts proportionate to each party’s income is also another way the Courts can resolve a case. If one party makes substantially more income than the other, that person may be given more of the marital debt. This can also help mitigate spousal maintenance in some cases by lowering the amount of output the spouse requesting maintenance has through debt division. Just because one spouse does not know the extent of the debt the other spouse has accumulated does not mean he/she will not be responsible for a portion of that debt. The rule is pretty clear in Colorado and anything accumulated during the marriage (asset or debt) is marital. Assets or debts accumulated after separation are not always marital but it depends on the circumstances of each case.

Devalued real estate balance sheet

So equitable does not mean equal division and depending on the facts of the case can be used to a client’s advantage in negotiating settlements. Every case is different and there are a myriad of different ways to separate, divide and apportion assets and debts. Consulting a lawyer before entering into any agreement can help you achieve a level of equitable division that you can be satisfied with.

Written by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for

It’s Only Abuse if Someone Hits You ~ Not Under Colorado Law


With the recent focus on the National Football League (“NFL”) and incidents involving Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald the question of what is domestic violence and abuse under Colorado law has become an important issue. Domestic violence and abuse is not something that is limited by a person’s income, education, race, or gender. It crosses all of these lines and it’s good to be informed on Colorado’s definition of domestic violence/abuse.

Under Colorado law “domestic abuse” is defined under §13-14-101(2), Colorado Revised Statutes as:

▸ Any act, attempted act, or threatened act of violence, stalking, harassment, or coercion. Coercion includes compelling a person by force, threat of force, or intimidation to do something which the person has the right or privilege to abstain, or to abstain from conduct in which the person has a right or privilege to engage.

▸ The perpetrator has to be someone whom the victim is related to (past or present), or has lived with in the same house or has been involved with in an intimate relationship. However, having a sexual relationship with the perpetrator is not necessarily a requirement to find that an intimate relationship exists.

▸ These acts, attempted acts or threatened act(s) of violence can also be done against the minor children of either party or an animal/pet belonging to the parties or a child involved where controlling that child/animal/pet means controlling that victim.


The video showing Ray Rice punching his then girlfriend so hard he knocked her out is what most people believe is domestic violence or abuse. Domestic abuse is more than simply hitting a victim. Preventing the victim from leaving during an argument or cutting them off from the means to call for help is another situation which can be classified under domestic abuse. Also damaging their property like taking away a cell phone and breaking it or throwing out the window of a moving car can be considered domestic abuse.

Since 2006 marital rape has been outlawed in all fifty states.  Still it goes largely unreported because people believe that you cannot rape your spouse/significant other.  Coercing a spouse/significant other to participate in a sexual act against their will by threat of violence, violence to the children or pets, or other “exchange”, is a crime that falls under domestic violence/abuse in Colorado.


Verbal and emotional abuse usually goes hand-in-hand with physical abuse, but sometimes there is no physical abuse. In many ways it is a more subtle form of abuse because victims often do not believe they are being abused. However, dictating how the other person dresses, whom they speak to or go out with, who their friends are, or how they keep a house clean where the abuser then flies into a rage when something is not how they would like it is abuse. Over the long term many victims come to believe what the other party has been telling them. In it’s own way it is psychological warfare that affects everyone in the home.

The situation with the NFL shows that domestic abuse happens whether the parties are financially well off or poor. A common misconception can be that domestic abuse only happens when the parties are poor. Not true. Domestic abuse is something that is committed by people with and without financial means, and with and without advanced education. There are many stories of women holding positions as CEO’s for major companies, medical degrees, scientists, secretaries, store workers, etc. living with domestic abuse. Victims can also be highly intelligent and still find themselves in an abusive relationship. Domestic abuse is not choosy about its victims – women, men, children, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender are all affected.


One in three women in their lifetime will be a victim of some sort of domestic abuse. Overall 25 to 32% of all relationships involve domestic violence regardless of sexual identity or orientation. Men are often abused by women and many are too embarrassed to report it.  Many victims lack the resources, support system and determination to leave their abusers. If you think you or someone you know may be the victim of abuse the following resources are available to you in the Denver Metro Area:

Written by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for