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COAFCC SNIPPETS

February 2022
SNIPPETS is a mini-newsletter designed to bring COAFCC members streamlined, timely information and support.

Being Professional in a
Virtual Courtroom Hearing

 
Joshua Christian, MA MFTC, CFI
 
What a wonderful time to be in.  With courtrooms and municipalities contributing to the battle of COVID we have the new and developing frontier of digital appearances.  Though we are more than a year in, as I sit in hearings it is still apparent there is a lack of professionalism and understanding of the required WebEx functionality that is now prevalent in the courtroom arena.   This article is intended to present the best tips and tricks for appearing professional in the digital realm.

Interestingly, many of these tips are the same ones you should be implementing when appearing in person:
  • Be on time.
I have a mentor who has long taught me that if you’re not at least five minutes early, you are late.  In the digital world, being 15 minutes early should be easy because you’re not fighting traffic or parking.  Plan ahead, and be early so you can be mindful of the remaining tips.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings.
This is just a polite way of saying that the judge or anyone else on the call doesn’t want to hear your TV blaring, your kids fighting, or your dog crying to go potty. Instead, try finding a quiet space for the duration of the meeting, even if it means leaving your house because your neighbor decided to conduct a garage band session.  If you live with small children, arrange for childcare during that time. If there are other adults in the home, let them know what’s going on in advance so you will not be disturbed.  These are critical baseline components to a successful court hearing and a professional appearance.
 
Board Member Spotlight
Profile by Stacy Mesias, LMFT
Chris Tomchuck
 
Chris is an attorney and partner at Caplan and Earnest in Vail and Boulder.  He transitioned from Stevens Littman and Biddison about one year ago to his new firm.  Chris has been practicing family law since 2005.  He joined the AFCC at Laurie McTavish’s recommendation in 2017 and is now a board member of the COAFCC. 
 
Chris is originally from Michigan and attended Michigan State University.  He was a security trader for a short time.  He began law school at Wayne State and finished at University of Denver in 2003.  Chris started his professional career in Frisco and worked there until 2011 when he joined Stevens Littman and Biddison.
 
Chris has been married for 12 years.  He has two amazing boys, ages 8 and 12 and two dogs.  The family enjoys skiing and going to Red Rocks.  In fact, those two activities played a role in Chris’ original move to Colorado. 
 
Here are some photos of Chris’s adorable dogs:

 

Olympic Museum in Colorado Springs
Stacy Mesias, LMFT
COAFCC Board Member

A great new addition to the Colorado Springs downtown is the United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum.  Not only does the museum have beautiful and unique architecture, it also has great exhibits. The museum is a fun an educational experience for the whole family. Many of the exhibits are interactional. The museum also sports a pedestrian bridge to the America the Beautiful Park, which has a very cool park and a beautiful fountain that kids of all ages play in during the summer. 

I recommend a visit to both destinations to anyone visiting the Colorado Springs area. 

 
America The Beautiful Park, photo by James Van Hoy.

AFCC PC/DM Training Overview

Marlene Bizub, Psy.D.
 
When I saw that AFCC was offering an online Parenting Coordinator/Decision Maker (PC/DM) training from November 29th through December 2nd, 2021, I decided to update the information I had learned when I took a similar training many years ago at Loyola University in Chicago.  I was curious to learn what had changed and what had stayed the same.  I found that there was a little bit of both!
 
The first takeaway was that it seems to be the trend for PC/DMs to be appointed earlier in the case.  Instead of waiting until the Final Orders hearing in the case, the PC/DM appointment is coming earlier in the process.  This allows the PC/DM to start working with the parents earlier and perhaps make significant progress prior to Final Orders, which could be helpful to the court in determining its orders.
 
Another takeaway was the idea that the PC/DM needs to be made aware of everything that happens in the case, even things involving financial and property issues.  Although PC/DMs usually don’t get involved with financial issues, those issues can affect the relationship between the parents which, ultimately, affects the work performed by the PC/DM.   
 
Lastly, the role of the PC/DM should be more of a “team-builder” role than the role of a “traffic cop”.  If the PC/DM feels they are acting more as a traffic cop than a team-builder, it might be time to have a conversation with the parents about getting on the same team.  The PC/DM might explain it another way--that the PC/DM is there to be a coach to the parents, not a referee!  
 
The AFCC training affirmed that the PC/DM role is a valuable one, but only if the parents are willing to learn and abandon the fight.

 

Colorado Licensed Legal Paraprofessionals
Program Plans and Updates

Kimberly Gent
Colorado currently does not license paralegals or other legal paraprofessionals, but that could change in the near future. After approving a preliminary report recommending that Licensed Legal Paraprofessionals (LLPs) be allowed to provide limited legal services in certain types of domestic relations cases, the Colorado Supreme Court has requested that its Advisory Committee develop an implementation plan. Given that some 75% of litigants in domestic relations cases proceed without legal representation (“pro se”), LLPs could help fill the gap in representation.  LLPs would be allowed to assist clients directly in lower-asset marital dissolution, parentage, and Allocation of Parental Responsibility (APR) cases. Other jurisdictions, including Utah, Arizona and Washington, already have similar programs to license paralegals or legal paraprofessionals with enhanced skills in limited legal practice areas.
 
The Advisory Committee has formulated working groups, which include family law lawyers, ethics lawyers, judges, family court facilitators and other court personnel, paralegals, and community college and law school representatives. The working groups include Licensure and Qualifications, Rules, Outreach and Communications, and Judicial Systems Coordination.

The preliminary report of the Paraprofessionals and Legal Services (“PALS”) Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee, contains recommendations about Licensed Legal Paraprofessionals’ qualifications and scopes of practice.  The report can be viewed here.

The Colorado Supreme Court’s February 2020 order requesting creation of the PALS Subcommittee can be viewed here. The Court’s June 2021 order requesting development of an implementation plan can be viewed here.

Questions about the LLP initiative? While the final decisions around licensing paraprofessionals have not been made, please review the PALS report, which may be able to answer your questions. Please email paraprofessionals@csc.state.co.us with any additional questions.

For more information and updates, visit
https://www.coloradosupremecourt.us/AboutUs/PALS.asp
Colorado Access to Justice

Listen and Learn Tour


Kimberly Gent

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated social inequities, and inequities in accessing the justice system have proven no exception. To explore this further, the Executive Director of the Access to Justice Commission of Colorado (ATJC), Elisa Overall, and Supreme Court Justice, the Honorable Melissa Hart, led a Listen and Learn Tour throughout 2021. In holding 41 regional meetings in all 22 judicial districts throughout Colorado, they heard from more than 500 stakeholders as to these access barriers.

In February 2022, the ATJC will release their report outlining some of the key issues and potential solutions.  On February 8, 2022 from 11:30 – 1:00, Elisa Overall will present the findings from the Listen and Learn Tour to The Future of Law Committee of the Colorado Bar Association.   

To register for this event/CLE, go to: https://www.cobar.org/Calendar/Event/sessionaltcd/MLPI020822

To find out more about the Colorado Access to Justice Commission go to: https://www.coloradoaccesstojustice.org/

UPCOMING COAFCC EVENTS
Tuesday - March 29th
6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. 

Evening Webinar:
Mediation Issues


**1.5 Contact Hours & CLEs Requested**

Registration opens soon!

Friday - April 8th
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 

Spring Conference and Members' Meeting
LIVE VIA ZOOM


Resist Refuse Dynamics

A discussion of the spectrum of contact problems and overview on the treatment options for all, with a focus on interventions for less severe cases

Barbara Fidler, Ph.D., C.Psych

Registration opens soon!
 

Fall 2022

Cultural Sensitivity, Humility, and Competence
"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance."
~Confucius

 
UPCOMING AFCC EVENTS

AFCC 59th Annual Conference
May 11-14, 2022
Chicago, IL

The Use, Misuse, and Abuse of Technology in Family Law

MORE INFO

15th Symposium on Child Custody
November 10-12, 2022
Las Vegas, NV

MORE INFO

Scholarships Available

COAFCC has a scholarship fund to help those in need.  Both full and partial scholarships are available to all online programming.  Check out the simple online application process. 

And keep in mind, AFCC also has a number of scholarships available for their educational programs. 

 

Remember - you can't win if you don't play!  

COAFCC members--what have you been up to?
 
Let us know when something amazing happens - when you publish a peer-reviewed paper or a book of relevance to family law practitioners or when you receive an award or promotion or similar honor.  We'd love to help you celebrate in the Member News section of our newsletter! 
 
Send an email to April Freier, our administrative assistant: aprilfreier@hotmail.com
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
We welcome your feedback and ideas.  Please feel free to reach out to either of the SNIPPETS editors, or the Administrative Assistant, at any time!


Editors:

Katie Hays
katie@haysandstrode.com
970.625.9444
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Tiah Terranova
tiahterranova@gmail.com
970.515.3646
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COAFCC Administrative Assistant:
April Freier
aprilfreier@hotmail.com
970.405.2626

Contact Us...Really!!
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