July 22, 2017

Archives for June 28, 2017

Post-Decree Modifications of Parental Responsibilities — Best Interests, Endangerment, and More

Sometimes, after a decree of dissolution is entered, parents seek to modify their allocation of parental responsibilities. The standard for modification of decision-making is found in C.R.S. § 14-10-129(2)(a) through (d). Subsection (a) allows for modification when the parties agree, but in practice this rarely or never happens. Subsection (b) allows modification when the child has been integrated into the family of the moving party with the consent of the other party — this, too, rarely happens. Subsection (c) addresses relocation and lists specific criteria for modification. The “meat” of the statute, however, is in subsection (d).

Subsection (d) allows modification of decision-making when “The child’s present environment endangers the child’s physical health or significantly impairs the child’s emotional development and the harm likely to be caused by a change of environment is outweighed by the advantage of a change to the child.” Many cases have interpreted “endangerment” as it relates to the modification of decision-making; it is where attorneys get creative with their arguments. Typically, though, “endangerment” is when the parent fails to make decisions or when the parents cannot agree on even the most minor of decisions and it harms the child.

The standard to modify parenting time is the best interest of the child standard, which is slightly less onerous to meet than the endangerment standard. Learn more about the interplay of the two standards and practical applications of the standards in case law from Marie Moses, a partner at Lass Moses Ramp, LLP. Ms. Moses presented a program, “Mastering Post-Decree Modification Standards: Best Interests Versus Endangerment,” which is available here:

Ms. Moses discusses the difference between the best interests and the endangerment standards, and how courts apply the two in practical situations.

The materials and homestudy are available for purchase here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Statutory Continuous Sentence Requirement Applies to Both Concurrent and Consecutive Sentences

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections v. Fetzer on Monday, June 26, 2017.

Parole Eligibility.

The Department of Corrections petitioned for review of the court of appeals’ judgment reversing an order of the district court that denied Fetzer’s petition pursuant to C.R.C.P. 106(a)(2). Fetzer’s petition sought an order compelling the recalculation of his parole eligibility date, asserting that the Department’s “governing sentence” method, which calculated his parole eligibility date solely on the basis of the longest of his concurrent sentences, violated the statutory requirement that his multiple sentences be treated as one continuous sentence. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for recalculation, reasoning both that, contrary to the Department’s understanding, the statutory continuous sentence requirement applies to concurrent as well as consecutive sentences and that the Department’s “governing sentence” method of calculation could not apply to Fetzer’s sentences because they were all subject to the same statutory parole provisions.

The supreme court held that, because the “governing sentence” theories that have previously been sanctioned by this court have served to determine the statutory parole and discharge provisions applicable to a single continuous sentence and the manner in which those provisions can be meaningfully applied to it, rather than as an alternative to the statutory continuous sentence requirement itself, the Department erred in simply substituting Fetzer’s longest sentence for the required continuous sentence. Because, however, Fetzer’s multiple sentences are not all subject to the same statutory parole provisions, as indicated in the court of appeals’ opinion, reference to a governing sentence, or some comparable means of determining the applicable incidents of his parole, may remain necessary to the calculation of Fetzer’s parole eligibility date. The judgment of the court of appeals reversing the district court’s order was therefore affirmed. Its remand order, directing the Department to recalculate Fetzer’s parole eligibility date in accordance with its opinion, however, was reversed, and the case was remanded with directions that it be returned to the district court for further proceedings.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Inquiry into Unemployment Claimant’s Mental Condition Beyond Scope of Simplified Administrative Proceedings

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Mesa County Public Library District v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office on Monday, June 26, 2017.

Unemployment Compensation—Fault or Misconduct—Illness or Physical Disability of Employee.

The supreme court held that where the Division of Unemployment Insurance determines a claimant was mentally unable to perform assigned work under C.R.S. § 8-73-108(4)(j) of the Colorado Employment Security Act, C.R.S. §§ 8-70-101 to 8-82-105, neither the text of C.R.S. § 8-73-108(4)(j) nor related case law contemplates further inquiry into the cause of the claimant’s mental condition, and such an inquiry is beyond the scope of the simplified administrative proceedings to determine the claimant’s eligibility for benefits. Here, the court concluded that the Division’s hearing officer erred in determining that claimant committed a volitional act to cause her mental incapacity and thus was at fault for her separation from employment and was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. The court of appeals’ judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Dog Owner Owes No Duty of Care to Child who was Scared by Dogs and Ran Into Street

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in N.M. v. Trujillo on Monday, June 26, 2017.

Negligence—Duty of Care—Nonfeasance—Special Relationships—C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5).

This case required the supreme court to determine whether respondent, a dog owner, owed a duty of care to petitioner, a child who became frightened when respondent’s dogs rushed at respondent’s front yard fence and who, although not touched by the fenced-in dogs, ran into the street and was struck and injured by a passing van. Because petitioner’s negligence claim against respondent was predicated on alleged nonfeasance, or failure to act, and because the case is distinguishable from cases in which a dangerous or vicious animal attacks and directly injures someone, petitioner was required to plead a special relationship between himself and respondent to establish the duty of care necessary to support his negligence claim. Petitioner did not, however, plead such a special relationship. Accordingly, the court concluded that, as a matter of law, respondent owed no duty of care to petitioner and thus the district court properly dismissed petitioner’s negligence claim against respondent. The court of appeals’ judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 6/27/2017

On Tuesday, June 27, 2017, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued three published opinions and four unpublished opinions.

United States v. Ransom

Blakely v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co.

Winger v. Meade District Hospital

Kraemer v. Fox Hills Owners Association

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, some published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.