Covid-19 has affected all of us, no matter what age, family status or career. Whether people are working or retired, own or rent their residences, have children or not, the pandemic has touched many areas of life. We expect the effect of Covid-19, and the government and private sector reactions to it, to continue to present challenges for a long time to come and we are prepared with the latest information to assist you with your legal needs in light of the virus’s affect on government, business, the courts, and daily life.
The attorneys at Toussaint & Coaty, P.C. are ready and able to help you with Covid-19 related issues, as well as everyday legal matters, throughout the pandemic and afterward.
To date we have assisted many clients with varied legal matters related to the virus, including:
- Government public health orders affecting businesses
- Landlord/Tenant lease matters
- Contract cancellations
- Real estate closings and land planning amid the pandemic
- Parenting Time and other domestic relations matters complicated by Covid-19
- Special District emergency declarations and elections affected by the virus
- Estate planning
- and many other matters affected to some degree by Covid-19
Government actions have been numerous and touch on many areas (public health orders, remote notarization of documents, suspension of evictions for non-payment of rent, etc.).
Our clients are individuals, businesses, and governments with important activities to take care of, who don’t have time to learn everything about the constantly changing landscape of Covid-19-related issues. Instead, they turn to us for advice and recommendations, because we make it our business to stay abreast of that landscape.
The attorneys at Toussaint & Coaty, P.C. will put their expertise and experience to work for you to get through these difficult and uncertain times. You can count on us for legal help when you need it.
What to Know Before Calling a Divorce Attorney For Help
BY TOUSSAINT & COATY PC Jan 17, 2020
The decision to get divorced can be difficult and emotional. A divorce will affect your life, your children (if any), and your economic future. Before you proceed, you need information about the legal consequences of divorce, or “dissolution of marriage” in Colorado, particularly where it concerns your property.
It is important to understand that the court’s main purpose in a dissolution matter is to do three things; (1) divide the parties’ marital property and debts between them, (2) determine the best interests of the children with regard to decision making and parenting time, and (3) determine child support and/or spousal maintenance, if any. There may be other issues the court resolves in a dissolution of marriage, but these are the “big three”.
When it comes to your property, the first thing to understand is what is and is not marital property subject to division by the court. Anything either party brought into the marriage during the marriage is marital property and is subject to division by the court. The relative contributions of each party to acquiring the property or how the property is titled are not relevant to whether or not the property is considered “marital” property.
You may want to reconsider obtaining property or assets before you are officially divorced as this property will be considered marital property by the court.
Separate property is any property owned by either party prior to the marriage, however, the increase in the value of the separate property during the marriage is marital property and is subject to division by the court. For example, if you own a rental condo prior to your marriage, it is worth $200,000 on the date of your marriage and it is worth $300,000 on the date your marriage is dissolved, then the increase in value, or $100,000, is marital property and is subject to division by the court.
The law protects certain types of property from being considered marital property, but you have to be careful not to co-mingle these types of property or they can change from separate to marital property. Property obtained by gift, bequest, devise or descent (“inheritances”), separate property that is exchanged for other separate property and property excluded from division by a valid agreement of the parties (a “prenuptial” or “marital” agreement) are not considered marital property and are not subject to division by the court. Examples of co-mingling are: putting cash from an inheritance in a joint bank account with your spouse, putting real property you inherit or that is your separate property into your and your spouse’s name, etc.
If you have questions about how certain types of property will be treated in a divorce, or if you have any questions about divorce in Colorado, a divorce attorney at Toussaint and Coaty, P.C. can help you. Don’t go it alone when good advice can save you money.
Big changes are coming in Colorado for minimum wage employees and employers. Some of those changes are already here. In fact, employers should already be anticipating the effects of those changes and taking action to prepare for the new state of the law. Toussaint & Coaty, P.C. is here to help you adapt to these changes and prepare for the future.
That future arrives in part on January 1, 2020. House Bill 19-1210, which was signed into law, repeals the prohibition of local governments in Colorado establishing minimum wages different from the state minimum wage. The practical effect of this is that cities, towns, and counties are now permitted to adopt minimum wages which are higher than the state minimum. They are not permitted to adopt lower minimums.
Of course, there are complications to the law. The higher minimum wages apply only to individuals performing four or more hours of work within the higher-wage jurisdiction and does not apply for through-travel, such as when an employee is only driving through a town or county on the way to another jurisdiction. Also, this ability to set an increased minimum wage is limited to only 10% of local governments, unless the legislature determines otherwise.
The increase over the state minimum is also limited. Any increase may take effect only on January first (or as otherwise determined by state minimum wage increases) and is limited to occurring annually at most. While a local government jurisdiction could choose to increase its minimum wage each year, each increase would have to be determined and approved within one calendar year for it to take effect in the next. We don’t usually see government move that quickly. Local governments are similarly limited to increases of $1.75 or 15% (whichever is higher), until the newly determined wage is attained. That means you won’t see an increase of $5/hour all at once. There is a step up process in the law.
As a result of the one-year restriction on effective dates, the important part for employees and employers will occur on January 1, 2021 at the earliest. That is the first date that minimum wage increases established by local governments can take effect and the first date on which employers will need to begin paying those higher wages. But don’t wait until January to begin preparing for this change! Local governments are not required to post or advertise or otherwise make employers aware that their minimum wage has increased over the state minimum. Employers of minimum wage employees should take careful note of proposed wage increase in those jurisdictions in which their employees spend time. Minimum wage employees who spend time working in multiple jurisdictions should also make themselves aware of minimum wage increase. The new law provides stiff penalties for failures to comply.
If you are an employee or an employer anticipating the effect of these changes, call Toussaint & Coaty, P.C. today for the legal assistance you need. We’re ready to get you ready.
There are three ways to pay for attorney services: Contingency, flat rate and hourly rate. Contingency plans are based upon recovery. Specifically, the attorney gets paid a percentage of the recovery, if and only if there is a recovery. This payment plan is almost exclusively in personal injury cases (think car accident). The other type of payment plan is a flat rate. This is where the attorney charges you one lump sum payment, usually in the beginning, to complete all the work the case requires. Many times this can be unfair to either the client or the attorney as it is unknown in the beginning how the case will actually progress. For instance, if the attorney does very little work for the flat rate it is not fair to the client. However, if the attorney does a lot of work for a flat rate it is not fair to the attorney. The final payment arrangement is hourly rate. An hourly rate is when the attorney and paralegal bill for the time worked on the case. This blog will address the hourly rate scenario and give tips on how to keep your attorney bill down.
First, knowing the clock is ticking, collect your thoughts prior to communicating with the attorney and do not call or email multiple times in a day. Next, respond to your attorneys request in a timely manner and do not become unreachable. Forcing the law office to make multiple attempts to reach you will cost time and money. Review all correspondences from your attorney in their entirety and re-read it if you do not understand. Do all legwork/homework you are asked to complete. Also, ask the attorney’s office if there are some tasks you could do on your own to keep the fees down. Should you take this on, do not shirk your responsibility because it will take more attorney time and money to then have the attorney complete the task. Finally, and most importantly, identify and prioritize your goals without emotion. Understand what the court can and cannot give you as relief to your issues. Sometimes a goal is the best of only bad choices. Other times it just does not make economic sense to keep a case alive by paying the attorney. Listen to your counsel. Ask questions if you do not understand what your counsel is telling you. Be reasonable. You are ultimately the one in control of your case but a satisfactory result is contingent on keeping your attorney bill down.
The market for short term rentals is growing and opportunities abound, especially in Colorado. While services such as AirBnB and VRBO facilitate the marketing, communication, scheduling, and payment aspects of such rentals, it is imperative that property owners familiarize themselves with the legal aspects of participating in this market.
The first question a homeowner will need to address is whether the local government has acted in this area. There is no statewide scheme of regulation in Colorado. Counties, cities, and smaller municipalities may have adopted regulations or ordinances which affect a homeowner’s ability to rent a property for short terms. Generally, short-term rentals are considered 30 days or fewer. For many municipalities in the metropolitan area, their regulations and ordinances are described somewhere on the local government website. Check the Planning and Zoning or “Doing Business In…” pages. The Colorado Municipal League maintains a matrix of short-term rental property ordinances, as well, which is available online.
Common restrictions on short-term rentals include requiring the property to be the owner’s primary residence, carrying appropriate insurance, satisfying a building and safety inspection, and registering for taxation. Of course, it is important to be and remain in compliance with otherwise applicable laws and regulations, even if not directly related to the short-term rentals. You must make sure that your property is not in violation of any zoning limitation and that you are not behind on your property taxes. For mountain properties, especially, be sure that you have established and are maintaining appropriate defensible space.
The consequences of failing to comply with the pertinent regulations range from the mildly inconvenient to the financially ruinous. It is one thing to be required to install a smoke and CO detector in every bedroom; it is another thing entirely to face ongoing $100/day fines after discovering that your newly-purchased short-term rental investment property is situated on a too-small lot and ineligible for rezoning.
Before making the leap into short-term renting, it is important that property owners, and even renters, contact a knowledgeable real estate attorney to advise them and assist in the process. You can find exactly those attorneys at Toussaint & Coaty. Give us a call today if you are considering getting into this market.
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