Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

How Divorce Lawyers Help with Co-Parenting, What a Typical Divorce Costs, How Much Custody do Dads Get in Colorado, and More with Shea Drefs at Custody X Change | Episode 75

December 16, 2021 Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha Season 1 Episode 75
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
How Divorce Lawyers Help with Co-Parenting, What a Typical Divorce Costs, How Much Custody do Dads Get in Colorado, and More with Shea Drefs at Custody X Change | Episode 75
Show Notes Transcript

Ryan Kalamaya and Shea Drefs with Custody X Change discuss how lawyers are helpful in divorce cases with kids and can help with communication between both parents.

About Shea Drefs

Shea Drefs is Managing Editor for Custody X Change, an online tool that helps divorcing parents create parenting plans and schedules, track child-related expenses, and more. She began her career as a news reporter, and for the last three and a half years she has immersed herself in the topics of divorce and child custody in order to bring parents useful information. Shea and her team at Custody X Change speak to legal experts, track changes in custody law, and conduct research to stay on top of issues relevant to co-parents.

What is Divorce at Altitude? 

Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries, and criminal defense in Colorado. 

To subscribe to Divorce at Altitude, click here and select your favorite podcast player. To subscribe to Kalamaya | Goscha's YouTube channel where many of the episodes will be posted as videos, click here. If you have additional questions or would like to speak to one of our attorneys, give us a call at 970-429-5784 or email us at [email protected].



Ryan Kalamaya (3s):
Hey everyone. I'm Ryan Kalamaya

Amy Goscha (6s):
And I'm Amy Goscha

Ryan Kalamaya (8s):
Welcome to Divorce at Altitude, a podcast on Colorado family law

Amy Goscha (13s):
Divorce is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me. I know besides being an experienced divorce attorney, I'm also a divorce client.

Ryan Kalamaya (21s):
Whether you are someone considering divorce or a fellow family law attorney listening for weekly tips and insight into topics related to divorce, parenting, and separation in Colorado. Welcome back to another episode of Divorce at Altitude. I am your host Ryan Kalamaya this week. We are here to talk about How Divorce Lawyers can help out with co-parenting and actually benefit people going through a divorce we're joined by Shaya Drefs she's the managing editor for CustodyXChange, which is an online tool that helps divorcing parents create parenting plans and schedules as well as track child related expenses and more just in full disclosure.

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 6s):
My law firm Kalamaya Gosha is a client of CustodyXChange. We use it for calendars, and we're going to talk about that with Che, but she began her career as a news reporter. And for the last three and a half years has immersed herself in the topics of divorce and child custody in order to bring parents useful information. She and her team at CustodyXChange speak to legal experts, track changes in custody, laws, and conduct research to stay on top of issues, relevant to co-parents Shea, welcome to the show. How, how are you doing today?

Shea Drefs (1m 39s):
I'm doing great. Thanks. It's good to be

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 41s):
Here. Well, we wanted to bring you on because your team at CustodyXChange sent out an email that I received and was very intrigued by because it was, there were graphs and statistics. And so why don't you tell us a little bit the listeners about your recent press release and thrust of the study that you guys did at CustodyXChange?

Shea Drefs (2m 6s):
So about once a year, we undertake a study that looks at either divorce or child custody. And this year, what we looked at was we did a survey of a thousand parents who divorced recently. So that would be a divorce that involves child custody. And we asked them a variety of questions. A lot of it was focused on whether or not they had an attorney and how that experience was, but we also asked them about different things like income level, and of course the kind of custody that they ended up with, whether they had sole or shared joint. And so if you want, I can dive right into some of our biggest findings.

Ryan Kalamaya (2m 48s):
Yeah, absolutely. So, and we, for this episode, we recognize most of our listeners actually listen, but we do have a YouTube channel and we now have the ability to do a screen share. So Shanar team have put together, they have these really cool graph. So we'll describe it for the listeners. And the first one that we're going to talk about is about attorneys and whether or not they can help or hinder settlements and joint custody. And Jay, you and I were targeting before recording now, Colorado, you are based in Arizona, right? Correct. Yeah. And this survey is all across the country. We're going to get into at the end, how Colorado stacks up compared to other states when it comes to parenting or custody allocations, because you guys did a study three or so years ago about where, how states compared just in a general manner, about 50, 50 time or sole custody or some sort of disproportionate share, but let's go back to the attorneys and their role with parenting.

Ryan Kalamaya (3m 52s):
And co-parenting so walk us through what your team found with this survey.

Shea Drefs (3m 57s):
Sure. So one of the first questions we asked was, did you have a lawyer represent you in your divorce case? And by far, most of our respondents did 79% had a lawyer. And then of those, most people were satisfied with their lawyer. So 70% said that they were either moderately or extremely satisfied. So that's sort of laying the groundwork there. Then we looked at the differences between when neither parent had a lawyer when one parent had a lawyer and when both had lawyers. And I think a lot of people might assume that when both parents have lawyers, there might actually be more, let's say heated arguments.

Shea Drefs (4m 44s):
You might be more likely to go all the way to a trial. But actually what we found out was that when both parents had attorneys, they were actually most likely to settle in that case. So 86% of those cases settled the least likely time to settle would be when only one parent had an attorney. And in that case, 63% settled. So still more than half, but significantly less than when both parents had attorneys. And then when neither parent had an attorney, it felt pretty much in the middle. So that was something that was interesting. We didn't ask about causes. So we can't say, you know, what's cause and effect, but just kind of thinking, not out loud, I've thought about this beforehand, of course, but some of my thoughts and some of the thoughts within the company, we've talked about this, and I'd be interested to hear your take also is that perhaps when there's two, both sides, two attorneys involved, they're much more likely to tell their clients, Hey, you want to settle the case because in most cases, that is the recommendation, right?

Shea Drefs (5m 51s):
It's better for parents to come up with their own ideas about raising their kids and reach an agreement so that they tend to get along better than, and it's better for the whole family. Most importantly, the kids. Do you have thought on that?

Ryan Kalamaya (6m 3s):
Do I think the study or the, these findings really are? I mean, there's always the does correlation is not causation and the, what the findings are, are consistent with. At least my observations and our law firm and how we view things. And I think, yeah, there's a lot of people will meet me and they will say, but what do you do? And I'll say, I'm a lawyer. And they'll say, what kind of lawyer and play this game. And I always say, I'm the lawyer that you never ever want to call because it means that you're going through a divorce. And then I can tell a lot of people will try to change their body tone or whatever. And I might joke about it and say, you know, cause oftentimes it will be in the context of kids because I have young kids, I have a five and a seven year old, so I'll meet another parent, another dad, another mom, and say, don't ever call me because that means that you guys are going through divorce.

Ryan Kalamaya (6m 54s):
And, but their body language will sometimes be like, oh, you must just fight about or fight a lot. And I think, yeah, there's the misconception of lawyers. I mean, we have what the war, the roses, the movie, and it's this knockdown drag out affair and people talk about custody battles. And oftentimes people are surprised when we'll come into a case or a consultation. It's interesting because we will have to earn our client's trust. The first people don't hire us to say, oh no, you're totally wrong. And you're not going to get a full custody. Everyone, not everyone. But a lot of parents will come in and say, I'm either worried about the other parent going for full custody or I want full custody.

Ryan Kalamaya (7m 38s):
And then we have to explain that is rare. And there has to be reasons. And so we will guide them through the process and oftentimes disabuse them of some misconceptions. So last week we recorded a podcast on fault. And so when there is an affair, someone will come in inevitably and they will believe that the affair should matter for them getting full custody because the other party had an affair. They should somehow get full custody that I understand on a human level, why they feel that way. They feel like the other person is dishonest.

Ryan Kalamaya (8m 18s):
They are just emotionally really upset. And so we will oftentimes go through with our clients and to explain to them that various things that they thought mattered may not. And the other aspect that we have to counsel our clients on is both the costs, which I know that was part of your survey. But in addition to that, Colorado is one of the only states where we are ethically required as attorneys to advise our clients about the impact, the negative impact that litigation and fighting can have on children.

Ryan Kalamaya (8m 58s):
And so that is, I think when we clue them in on and pull back the curtain on the process and you say, Hey, this is going to cost you a lot of money. B is going to be very stressful and C you're, you may not, or you, you likely will not get what you are seeking. Then it's more of, we can then talk about settlement and come to an agreement. It may take some time and then negotiations and we'll get into the timing of a divorce. But those are just the immediate reactions that I have that would be consistent or relevant to what your study is.

Ryan Kalamaya (9m 39s):
The final point that I would add is that when there are a lot of cases in which one party will hire a lawyer, because they will say, I need help. I don't understand this process. And then the other party might just have, I am the smartest guy or woman in the room. And I don't need a lawyer to tell me what to have. You know, they, in their mind, they already know what's going to happen and they've convinced themselves. And so there's that LMA. And you know, there's countless number of times shape where I will tell my client that the other party, they don't have an attorney and the best thing for them because, you know, they're always worried about this divorce lawyers are gonna make it worse and I'm really worried about costs.

Ryan Kalamaya (10m 22s):
And I understand that, but also I will tell them the best thing that could happen is your husband or your wife hire someone because then that attorney will have the same process or same conversation that I just went through about disabusing them of various things that will matter. So I suspect that that is often why you see the one party having an attorney and then the other, but it there's a reason for it where they oftentimes just are kind of, so either arrogant or ignorant and that they will just drive the process because they just have unreasonable expectations.

Shea Drefs (10m 60s):
That's interesting. I was eager to hear your take on that because I could think of two possibilities when we're talking about why cases where only one side is represented. They're less likely to settle. One is what you've said. So it's the unrepresented parent. Who's probably being pretty headstrong and saying, no, I will not settle. Let's keep going. Let's go with litigation. And then the other one I thought of was, well, maybe in some cases, it's the attorney. Who's saying we have the upper hand here. We have all my legal knowledge and it's not advisable usually for a parent to go to court without a lawyer, especially when your co-parent has one. So I wondered if that was part of it.

Shea Drefs (11m 40s):
What do you mean?

Ryan Kalamaya (11m 41s):
My philosophy is that every parenting situation is unique and I don't know what's going on behind closed doors. And what I oftentimes will talk about with my clients is I can say that I'm a good dad. And you can say that you are a good mom. And you know, if you're my client, we could go into court and you could say, you're a good mom. And I mean, anyone can do that, but what does that actually mean? I mean, it's like you have to show, not tell. And so you show the judge that you're a good parent because you woke up in the middle of the night when your son had a bloody nose or you today, we had a snow day.

Ryan Kalamaya (12m 22s):
And so, you know, how do you handle those situations? And you really get to see what parents do. And I guess the other point is about why cases are settle with attorneys, is the attorneys appreciate how short someone has on a witness stand in a trial and to explain fully about what it means to be a good parent or their particular situation. It would take way longer than people will get in a court. So when you're talking about your child and the particularities of the exchanges or the school schedules or food allergies, or it's something that can really matter, especially if it's like special needs or there's activities, you cannot get that granular and that detailed in a trial.

Ryan Kalamaya (13m 13s):
And so if parents really want those details about what we're going to exchange on Thursdays at a particular time, because Johnny has a violin, a recital or practice, and then Sally has ski school. You will not get that in a trial because the judge just is going to look at kind of the forest from the trees and really get into the generalities. And so people are incentivized to settle because between them, they may disagree about maybe the color of the sky, but they can at least control the particularities. So they can really craft an agreement. And that's where CustodyXChange is really helpful to have those calendars, that show those unique aspects.

Ryan Kalamaya (13m 57s):
And so that I think is something that probably is driving those statistics that you're seeing.

Shea Drefs (14m 3s):
And I think another thing that we should mention, and this is in the graph, if for those of you who are watching the video is that we've talked about how the two attorney cases are most likely to settle. And they're also the most likely to end up with joint physical custody, which makes sense, because typically if two parents come to an agreement, it's that we both want to have time with the child. So that's another big part of this.

Ryan Kalamaya (14m 30s):
Yeah. And I think that, that, I mean, my partner, Amy and I we've gone on and said, we're going to come back to this in terms of Colorado. I don't drive. I don't force people to agree to equal parenting time. It really depends on the circumstances of the case, but I will tell them. And fortunately, they'll practice in a fairly small jurisdiction. So I know the judges and can give my clients general idea of, Hey, this judge is, they have kids themselves. I've seen them with their kids. And, you know, if you don't think that they're not bringing their own experience to bear on your case well, like that, that's just the reality of it. And so whether where it is, and I'm fortunate to work in a jurisdiction where we have some really fantastic caring judges, but that also is going to drive my guidance.

Ryan Kalamaya (15m 21s):
And so oftentimes it's more likely to have a joint or shared equal parenting time or something close to that. And that's just because the majority of the cases that we're seeing are resulting in something close to that. I think another aspect, I mean, you and I were talking offline. One of the reasons that you started working for CustodyXChange is you can work remotely. One trend that we're seeing is that as people are working remotely, the travel associated with their work, or just the day to day going into work is less of a logistical impediment to in particular, the father being involved in parenting. And then we also have kind of the rise. I mean, you're a working professional female.

Ryan Kalamaya (16m 2s):
When you have that, you know, rise in women who are in the workforce that I think those general trends are one of the reasons that you're seeing more equal parenting time. There's just an expectation that women are going to be working a little bit more. And then there might be some flexibility. So those are just kind of some, maybe especially some recent observations about why equal parenting time is becoming more of the trend. At least here in Colorado. This episode is brought to you by our law firm. Kalamaya Gosha Amy. And I describe our law firm as an innovative and ambitious trial team that pushes the boundaries to discover a new frontier is in family law, personal injuries in criminal defense in Colorado.

Ryan Kalamaya (16m 46s):
We currently have offices in Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Edwards, Denver, and Boulder. If you want to find out more, visit our website, Kalamaya dot law now back to the show.

Shea Drefs (16m 59s):
Yeah. And you can see, regardless of whether or not you have an attorney, the majority of cases are shared custody, maybe not equal, but definitely that is the new norm, right?

Ryan Kalamaya (17m 10s):
And so, well, let's turn to, you know, income and effecting representation or joint custody. I'm the chair of Alpine legal services, which is a nonprofit legal entity. And they do family law and access to justice is something that's really important. And so income, not everyone can afford an attorney. So talk to me about how income can affect representation and that the difference between mid to high income parents.

Shea Drefs (17m 36s):
So, so far we've talked about the two attorneys versus one, and we've basically pointed out that it seems like there are a lot of benefits when both parents have an attorney, there's higher rate of settlement, higher rate of shared custody. The one thing that we didn't mention is that that's also one parents pay the most in legal fees, which makes sense. That's probably what you would expect that is, of course you have to, as a parent way, the expertise that you're receiving and the money that you'll have to pay. So we asked parents, we found out what their income range was. And then we looked at how many had attorneys and the low income range.

Shea Drefs (18m 16s):
And that was so parents who had attorneys 65% were low income, or rather, I think I need to say that again, it's not parents, it's actually 65% of low income parents had attorneys, whereas 84% of other parents, so mid or high income had attorneys. So that's a 19% difference, which I don't think is shocking to anyone. That ability to pay is definitely a factor in the decision of whether or not they hire a lawyer.

Ryan Kalamaya (18m 50s):
And then of those cases, can you talk to us about the difference between low income and mid to high income with the results being shared parenting or physical custody?

Shea Drefs (19m 2s):
Yeah. So similar, when you look at cases that got shared or joint, which term do you use in Colorado parenting time, parenting time. So when we look at low income parents, 68% of them had shared parenting time and other parents, 81% had shared parenting time. So definitely a significant difference there to say it, another way, parents who have a higher income tend to share their parenting time more often than parents who have a lower income, which is similar to the rates of their attorney representation.

Ryan Kalamaya (19m 42s):
Yeah. And then what about the case cost and the length? Cause one of the common things Jay, that we are asked is in a consultation when someone comes to our firm, they'll say, okay, how much is this going to cost? And how long is this going to take? So what were the findings by CustodyXChange when it comes to the average cost of having a lawyer. And then to clarify, when you, is this the overall cost for both people, or is this just for one person

Shea Drefs (20m 12s):
We're talking about one person, because we only got one of the parents in our survey. So talking about one parent when they were represented and their co-parent was represented, the median cost that they told us was $18,000 for the entire divorce and custody process. So that was attorney fees, court fees, any sort of mediation or other alternative dispute resolution costs, but it didn't include anything like alimony,

Ryan Kalamaya (20m 42s):
The people involved, or the process, the transactional costs. So expert witnesses, those sorts of things out the meeting costs was $18,000 for one person. And then, but that didn't include if there was for example, $500,000 in the divorce and they each got $250,000, that's not included in your transactional costs.

Shea Drefs (21m 9s):
Yeah. And then when they did not have an attorney, as you would expect the costs fell. So when neither parent had an attorney, are the respondent reported a median cost of only $500. But then something that was interesting was when one parent had an attorney. So the cost that they're reported was $7,000 median. But what's interesting is that doesn't take into account whether they are the one with or without an attorney. So what's interesting is that when we look at the one attorney cases, even the parent who did not have the attorney still ends up spending several thousand dollars in the process, a median of almost $6,000.

Shea Drefs (21m 56s):
And that could be, we've talked about already some of the costs that could be court fees. That could be mediation. I mean, if they go to trial, certainly there's going to be a lot more costs involved. But the takeaway that I've found there is that certainly you're going to save money if neither parent has an attorney. But if one has an attorney, you're still probably going to be spending several thousand dollars. And it depends on the case, but by and large, having both parents represented was the most expensive option.

Ryan Kalamaya (22m 26s):
Yeah. When I talk to clients about costs, I mean, it's something that we have to address upfront and we'll come back to. Cause one of the findings of your study was about how satisfied people were with their divorce process, as well as their thoughts about how their kids were doing, whether attorneys were or were not involved. But when I talked to people about the amount it's going to cost, if people are generally getting along, then it is going to be expensive. Regardless if someone is a professional firm, my firm is involved it's they could be on a limited scope basis, which am curious whether or not your findings took that into consideration.

Ryan Kalamaya (23m 12s):
I'll explain a little bit more about what I mean by that, because there are circumstances that we will guide people here in Colorado on what's called a limited scope representation. So we're essentially consultants. We're not in the trenches going appearing at court, but people oftentimes will come to us and say, I want to keep costs down. And they'll say, this is what I'm thinking. These are the kinds of facts. What do you think about this? And then I'll go through the process. Not necessarily say, well, you're definitely going to have equal parenting time. That's not the guidance, but it will be Hey, asking them about and also guiding them through what the various options are. And I know the CustodyXChange one issue that you're one thing that I find to be a valuable resource for CustodyXChange is that you will have guidance on equal parenting time.

Ryan Kalamaya (24m 0s):
Well, what exactly does that mean alternating weeks? 2, 2, 5, 5, 3, 4, 4, 3, those various options. So we'll guide our clients through that in a limited scope in, and as part of that, we might say, you should not go to a hearing because you're likely going to lose. If you think you're going to get quote unquote, full custody. And so that is where we are involved and people do that to keep their costs down. So do you know whether or not that certainly would come into place of whether or not the, the median would be account for the limited role of attorneys in those sorts of situations in your survey? Do you know,

Shea Drefs (24m 40s):
They asked, was, were you represented by an attorney? So I suppose there could be some different interpretations of that, but no, we didn't get down to the granular level of what exactly did you have a lawyer doing for you? So that could be attributed.

Ryan Kalamaya (24m 56s):
Yeah. And that makes sense. But if people are getting along and it really depends on the facts and circumstances and just the amount of disputes involved, but if people are getting along and they come to us with, you know, many of their agreements, then it's going to be in the range of 7,500 to $10,000. If everything goes very smoothly, there are cases in which, you know, we go to trial and they fight over parenting. And there's a lot of money and disputes. Yeah. If you go into litigation, it costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And so that obviously the median, when you guys are looking at $18,000, I think it's helpful for people to understand how much it costs across the board.

Ryan Kalamaya (25m 44s):
So what about the length of time? When people ask me how much this is going to, how long is this going to take? It's going to vary depending on the circumstances and the judge and what they want, but what were the findings in custody exchanges survey on the length of time and the impact of attorneys?

Shea Drefs (26m 2s):
Yeah, of course, like you said, it varies so much case by case based on when you reach a settlement, ideally, or if you never reached a settlement. But what we found was that the longest cases tend to be when only one parent has an attorney, those ones where a median of 12 months, and then cases with either two attorneys or no, attorneys were pretty similar seven and six months, seven for the two attorneys, six months for no attorney, which is probably tied to the fact which we said before that if you have two attorneys, you're likely to settle. If you have one attorney you're less likely, which would therefore make your go longer.

Shea Drefs (26m 44s):

Ryan Kalamaya (26m 45s):
Agree. And last week we had Joe Marr, who is an attorney. He came from Maryland. And he said that when people, when fault is not involved, because fault matters in Maryland, that people have to stay separated for two years, I believe you said. And so in Colorado, yeah, you have to wait at least 91 days for the divorce process. There's that kind of this cooling off period. But you know, people can, can settle within that timeframe. But I think that this generally is in line with at least my observation of how long it takes. They often can take a little bit longer. One of our episodes was on a joint business valuation expert. When you have experts involved, you're waiting for them to get back.

Ryan Kalamaya (27m 28s):
And right now, as we're recording this divorce attorneys and experts are extremely busy. Everyone I talk to is very busy. So some of that can drive the timing and in particular, on, on experts. And so if you're looking at a case where there's a parenting evaluator or some sort of CustodyXChange or custody evaluator, that's going to be a little bit longer because there's just the timing of getting someone appointed. Most of those people have existing cases. Anyone that's reputable is, has something already. So you're going to have to wait. You have to get in line. And in the process itself, it takes a couple months. So that can drive some of that timing issue.

Shea Drefs (28m 8s):
Yeah. And just to reiterate as I'm sure you always do the sooner you settle, the sooner your case ends the shorter,

Ryan Kalamaya (28m 16s):
Right. So let's switch gears and talk about how well do parents get along and how are the kids or how well do kids adjust after a divorce? So your findings were interesting. And so talk to our listeners about what you found with parents that get along and, and the impact of income specifically on parents getting along.

Shea Drefs (28m 41s):
So we looked specifically at income versus outcomes of let's say case outcome and financial income, because we did notice a disparity there. So only 43% of respondents with a low income said that their kids adjusted extremely or very well, whereas 61% of other parents said, so, and then there was similar results. When you look at how well the parents got along after the divorce. So I, again, similar to how many low income parents were able to have an attorney, how many low-income parents ended up with joint physical custody, much less than their mid or high income counterparts here.

Shea Drefs (29m 30s):
Again, we're seeing some less happy outcomes this time in terms of parents getting along and how well kids are adjusting.

Ryan Kalamaya (29m 38s):
Again, we're getting into the kind of correlation doesn't mean causation, but I guess one thing that comes to mind is, you know, people that might be in a low income situation, they might not be getting along particularly well and, or they may feel like their kids are not adjusted and it could be not as a result of the process, but it's because of the situation to begin with the low income. And they might feel that their kids are not adjusted. And that could be some external factor that they could be associating with whether or not they're their kids are or are not adjusted. And it could be unrelated to the divorce. It could also be causing the issues in the divorce in the first place.

Ryan Kalamaya (30m 19s):

Shea Drefs (30m 19s):
Sure. For sure. There could be so many different factors here, but one that we thought of specifically is perhaps a alternative dispute resolution could be a factor because less, fewer, low income parents use alternative options like mediation or collaborative law than middle and high income parents. So it's 82% of low income respondents that use those alternative methods compared to almost all middle and high income parents and 97%. And those tend to focus on really bringing parents together and finding common ground.

Shea Drefs (30m 59s):
So it makes sense to think that that could lead to parents getting along better in the end. So that might be one reason.

Ryan Kalamaya (31m 6s):
And we're going to talk about satisfaction with the divorce process and their attorney, but do you think Shea, it's fair to say that when people, when assuming that they can afford mediation and that they can afford an attorney, that the statistics and the survey that you found, that the data shows that those people are, they get along better, their kids are better adjusted or well adjusted, and that they rate the process on a higher scale than people that are going to court and that they just, you know, the results are that feel like their kids might be suffering as a result. Do you think those are fair generalizations of the survey that you guys conducted?

Shea Drefs (31m 48s):
That's definitely the hope of using alternative options. We didn't find a direct connection like that. But what we did look at was how many cases are using alternative methods and the vast majority are using at least one because most courts require that now to try to keep people from litigating and mediations, definitely the most popular followed by parenting coordination, cooperative law, collaborative law, and mediation, probably most people are familiar with you come together. And there's a mediator who tries to help you see each other's point of view, find some common ground, calm down any emotions.

Shea Drefs (32m 28s):
So it would make sense that that would only be helpful in terms of outcomes.

Ryan Kalamaya (32m 34s):
But did you find in, in satisfaction with their attorney? So overall

Shea Drefs (32m 40s):
Were satisfied. So 70% were either extremely or moderately satisfied. Most people said moderately. So basically like a four out of five point scale. So that's good news and that's good news for you.

Ryan Kalamaya (32m 56s):
Yes and no, it is good news, but I think that at least my firm strives for fives across the board and our Google reviews. I tell people, listen, I can tell you how slick I am or how great my firm is. But the proof is in the pudding and our reviews are pretty five-star across the board. I don't like when someone says I'm moderately satisfied. That means that for me, it's a failure of some sort one obvious question I would have about the, whether or not they're satisfied with the attorney is, are how much are they associated? Just the process with them, where with the divorce process that spilling over to their attorney. One thing I always tell people is, listen, you're never going to say Ryan.

Ryan Kalamaya (33m 40s):
That was really fun. And we'll get into the reading of the divorce process, but people generally are not going to come and say that I really enjoyed my time with you. That is just not how my work operates. It's more of in two years, someone comes to me and says, I was really glad that you were there in my corner. And it was a very difficult time for me. And you helped me out of the, get the best possible outcome, given the circumstances. And that is why, at least why I do what I do. And so I always hope that people are extremely satisfied. What we try to do within our firm is to check in with our clients.

Ryan Kalamaya (34m 23s):
We have a rating service or rating methodology within our firm of asking clients, how satisfied are you pretty early on? And that's because if we're not hitting the objectives and they're not extremely satisfied, we want to know very early on what could we be doing better? And that is something that is really important for us, but it is just, it's helpful to understand that people are generally satisfied with their lawyer. The other thing I'll mention on this topic is that we do get a lot of calls from people that are dissatisfied with their attorney. And it may be that that's always a red flag for us, generally speaking, because it may be that they just don't like what their divorce lawyer is telling them.

Ryan Kalamaya (35m 7s):
And we might be telling them that same exact thing we might say, you're not going to get full custody, but it could be the communication. And I think communication is so critical in the divorce if people call and it's really important to them, and the attorney might be very busy. I just got done with an unbelievably busy week and I've reached out to clients and say, Hey, I, I haven't been available like I normally am. And so I just want to check in on you. And that has always been something that I've tried to do. And I know that a lot of other lawyers, they feel differently. They feel like if someone calls them that they'll take it when it's convenient. One of the biggest complaints against lawyers is they don't pick up the phone and that is so critical that communication component.

Ryan Kalamaya (35m 53s):
And so we do get calls, like I said, from other people. And if we know that there's an attorney that just isn't really operating at a high level, and they're going to hold someone to hold that against them, if they satisfied with their lawyer and they want to come to, they're looking for something different, we know kind of who the really great lawyers are, and who's going to be a better fit for us compared to somebody else. So those are just kind of some reactions that I have in terms of satisfaction with their divorce lawyer.

Shea Drefs (36m 23s):
And I think the spillover that could definitely be a factor because one of the things I noticed was that, so we said that 70% of respondents were satisfied with their attorney. And just about the same percentage said that they were satisfied with their case outcome. So if you're not happy with how the case turned out, it might not have been the lawyer's fault, but you're probably going to fault them somewhere.

Ryan Kalamaya (36m 54s):
Right? So when people, what were the findings specifically on people reading the divorce process? Because I thought that these statistics were pretty interesting,

Shea Drefs (37m 4s):
Just mentioning one of the questions we asked them was the outcome. And that was about 70% were extremely or moderately satisfied there. And then what you have on your screen right now, if you're watching the video, you can also see a separate question, which is the rating of the process, because the process could have gone differently than your opinion of the outcome. And so most people are in rated it like fine or good kind of in the middle. Those were the most common selections. 31% said it was fine. 34% said it was good. And then 18% said it was better than they could've imagined, which, you know, it's still divorced.

Shea Drefs (37m 49s):
No, probably super psyched to be going through it. But we were trying to ask specifically about the legal process and how they felt that was

Ryan Kalamaya (37m 57s):
So Shayla, let's switch gears a little bit and talk about how Colorado stacks up with parenting time and specifically How Much Custody time does dad get. And because CustodyXChange, you guys did study in 2018 about Colorado compared to other states with what courts generally do when parenting time becomes a disputed issue or custody, is, is that issue. So what were those findings in 2018?

Shea Drefs (38m 25s):
So definitely we have to keep in mind that this was 2018, but the trend overall for many years now has been moving more and more towards equal parenting time. Years ago, mothers tended to get more of the parenting time, but now we're certainly moving more towards equal. And some states are actually having a presumption that unless there's a reason not to award shared custody and 50 50 time, that's what they'll default to 40% of states. We found at least aim to give equal parenting time. So it might not be a presumption, but it might be more of an encouragement, but the remaining states haven't gone that far yet, but they are still in general moving towards equal parenting time.

Shea Drefs (39m 15s):
And in Colorado, we found that by and large, a 50, 50 percentage of parenting time is becoming the norm,

Ryan Kalamaya (39m 24s):
I think. And we had a blog post a couple of years ago. Cause I think the American bar association had conducted a similar study, but Colorado was at the forefront of the states that there was a most cases resulted in equal parenting time. And that was compared to, for example, Tennessee, I think was in our blog post and you can see it on the screen, Tennessee. It was a 21.8%, which was one of the lowest states. And we're talking about percentages of time with that in particular. And then you look at across the board, Oklahoma 22.4% taxes. There's a lot of Texans in particular have moved to the mountains.

Ryan Kalamaya (40m 4s):
There's a 33% rate for fathers, California. Another big source of people coming to Colorado from California. Here's a $38. Actually. It was very surprising to me, 32.8%. I know that some of the things that you guys looked at in 2018 were in terms of kind of politics or cultural aspects, we won't get into those. But I think it is something that when people hear Amy and me talk about what Colorado is equal parenting time, and there is no presumption, something you referenced. There are states where there is a presumption of equal parenting time, Colorado there's been proposals in the legislature based on what other states are doing. But as of yet, those that presumption has not been codified into law.

Ryan Kalamaya (40m 45s):
We have a series of how to Episodes at Divorce at Altitude on how courts go through an analysis on parenting time, specifically with the best interest of the children with 14, 10, 1 24, which is a statute, but the general trend. And this is again why I referenced in the earlier segment on guidance and why cases generally settle is that is just the reality of what is happening in, in Colorado. Most cases are resulting in equal parenting. I think people, at least my observation, anecdotally people are coming to me more and more and saying, we both agreed. We want you to divorce for a variety of reasons. And we have these hypothetical divorce story between Eric and Melanie Wolfe.

Ryan Kalamaya (41m 28s):
And it's just a natural step in their relationship of getting a divorce. But with that in mind, a lot of people like Eric are, Melanie will come to me and say, we've already agreed to equal parenting time. And so then it's my job to kind of get through. Okay, what does that mean? And that's where CustodyXChange really is helpful about going through the calendar and figuring out what it is that is going to work for them, whether it be a 5, 5, 2, 2, 2, 5, or a two to three, you know, those various options. And then also, and this is where I think, and I want you to talk about kind of some of the features with custody exchange and where people can find out more information is that I think it is so helpful to really have the overlay of the school schedule, summer time and the holidays, because people can say, I want to do a week on a week off.

Ryan Kalamaya (42m 23s):
And then we also have agreed that we're going to trade off Thanksgiving. And that sounds nice. But the reality is that you can have a calendar showing, well, mom gets the week before Thanksgiving and then it's her week of Thanksgiving. And then because they're alternating weeks, she then naturally gets the week after Thanksgiving, but that's not what they meant. And that's, and you don't see some of those things. I mean, you can say, well, we're going to start it over after Thanksgiving and dad's going to get that week and we're going to start that over. But then what does that do for winter break? And so that's where I find CustodyXChange to be such a valuable resource. So talk to me about what some of the features that you guys offer and where people can find more information about CustodyXChange.

Ryan Kalamaya (43m 9s):
If they've listened to this and they are going through a divorce and they want to find out more

Shea Drefs (43m 14s):
So as we're talking specifically about 50 50 time, I think one of the important things to keep in mind is that you're probably not going to actually have 50.0%, one parent and 50.0 present the other parent. That's more of an approximate. So you might have 49, 50 1%. It's nearly impossible to split real life directly down the middle. But one of the things that custody exchange does is help you to actually get an exact percentage. And so you can go in and you can click through the different options. You can make up your own option. If you want to use a schedule that isn't popular, that fits your family and you can go on and you can try all this for free.

Shea Drefs (43m 54s):
So you can look at 50, 50 schedule, 60, 40, 70, 30, whatever you want experiment. And then like you said, once you start putting in, okay, here's the holiday schedule that we would like, maybe we alternate. Maybe mom has certain holidays that are very important to her. And dad has ones that are important to him. You can also consider things like summer break, winter break, take all that into consideration. Any family, you know, every year you maybe have a, a one week trip here. Once you put that all in custody exchange automatically calculate it's at for you and tells you how much time the child is spending with each parent.

Shea Drefs (44m 36s):
And what you can even do is take out things like time at school, because technically that's not really with either parent or if you want to go so far as taking out the time when the child's asleep, because that's not really quality time, there's a lot of options so that you can look at the different measurements and really find out, okay, I will be with my child this much, and then you can go and you can adjust it if you say, oh, I love this schedule, but it's not as, even as we would, like, what if the other parent got more time over summer break, then that might help to even it out helps it make feel more fair.

Shea Drefs (45m 16s):
And it's really great for negotiating and considering different options.

Ryan Kalamaya (45m 19s):
It's great for negotiating. It is also then you can see problems or issues before they come out. So oftentimes what we'll have clients is to go through the calendar and they look at the school calendar, and it's just one of those things where you can see things better than and get to that equal parenting time. That goal. The other aspect that I'll mention is that my firm has found CustodyXChange to be very, very helpful when it comes to litigation. And, you know, we talked about settling and How Divorce Lawyers can help co-parent and or help with co-parenting and help people get to a resolution.

Ryan Kalamaya (46m 3s):
But there are those cases where we are litigating. And you know, when, when the stakes are so high, it's the most important thing for those people. CustodyXChange when you show the judge, this is what we're asking for. And furthermore, when there's a two competing plans, there's one case that comes to mind where the mom wanted a particular schedule. And she said, well, this results in more, you know, less exchanges. And we were able to quantify and show this schedule is not, it's actually more exchanges, but it's one of those persuasive. It's an arrow in our litigation, quiver, where we can quantify the number of exchanges and say, this is our plan.

Ryan Kalamaya (46m 46s):
And in exchanges, it's a factor, but the judges really do take that to consideration. So we can say, this is our plan. And they might agree on an equal parenting time schedule or a particular split, but we can show through CustodyXChange report and say, this is the number of exchanges over a year. The other thing too, is that we have seen with parental relocations when we deal with a fair amount of parental relocations, especially in the mountains, because it's an expensive place to live, but, you know, there's, there's a lot of parental relocations. When you have that, then you get two very, very different competing parenting schedules. And when you are able to show a parenting schedule that has 70, 30 split, and then another competing schedule that is 60 40, the judge is going to be like, well, I like the 60 40 split because that just provides just a quantifiable, more like it provides 10% more time with the parent that is just not getting as much time.

Ryan Kalamaya (47m 48s):
And so when you show that to the judge and you can quantify it, that is really helpful information. And were my firms very much about visuals because those, the data and the graphs that you just went through, you know, it makes sense. And when judges are looking at stuff, I mean, they have limited time. And when they see a graph, when they see numbers, when they see percentages that resonates with a judge who is ultimately the decision maker compared to just some abstract, well, judge, we're going to agree to, mom's going to have Monday, Tuesday, and then dad's going to have Thursday, and then we're going to do this and that, like, it's really hard to keep track of that.

Ryan Kalamaya (48m 28s):
But when you see a calendar of how that actually works in practice, that can really make a difference, especially when the stakes are so high. So it's something that I found very helpful about custody exchange. So where can people find out more information about CustodyXChange and your guys's features?

Shea Drefs (48m 47s):
That's great to hear that it's been so helpful for you, Ryan custody, ex change.com. The letter X custody X change.com would be the place to go. And like I said, you can try the product out for free. And then we have two different subscription levels. And we also have options as you know, for professionals, sincere user. One other thing to add on the, the importance of having that exact parenting time calculation is for child support calculations. Also how much time you spend with your child is a factor in Colorado and in most states. So it's a nice to know that you have an exact number and not just a guest

Ryan Kalamaya (49m 28s):
Colorado's based on overnights for child support, but there is a feature in a child support statue where if the children are spending a significant amount of time during the day with the particular parent, and that's not really considered or taken into consideration, I mean there's 365 days or overnights. And so when you compare that there's a rationale, the judge can change child support. If one parent is spending a significant more amount of time, more than just what the overnights would show. And I think that that's so helpful to show that in quantifiable numbers, but Shay thank you so much for joining us on Divorce at Altitude has been a real pleasure.

Ryan Kalamaya (50m 10s):
We really got into some numbers. I love that. I hope our listeners have enjoyed it, but thank you again for joining us.

Shea Drefs (50m 18s):
Thank you so much for having me. It's been wonderful and good luck to you and all your listeners with their cases.

Ryan Kalamaya (50m 24s):
Hey everyone. This is Ryan again. Thank you for joining us on Divorce at Altitude. If you found our KIPP's insight or discussion helpful, please tell a friend about this podcast for show notes, additional resources or links mentioned on today's episode. Visit Divorce at Altitude dot com. Follow us on apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen in. Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find Amy and me at Kalamaya dot LA or 9 7 3 1 5 2 3 6 5 that's K a L a M a Y a.law.