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I was handed a CSE form from my caseworker. Can I file for CSE before I'm divorced? I am receiving TANF, food stamps and CHP+.

Niwot, CO |

My husband left the kids and me more than a year ago. I still have to file for divorce. Can I fill out the CSE form before I have filed for divorce and what are the pro's and con's?
I can not afford an attorney, so I must go pro se. Is there something I really must have a lawyer for and can I get a lawyer for just a part? Are some lawyers willing to do slow pay? Could I even find a pro bono lawyer or does CU have good advice?
My husband suffers under depression, alcohol and drug use. I don't feel safe to have the kids around him. My kids are 4, 9, 12 and 14. Do they have any say? Can the kids testify to how he neglects them and has hit me? I don't want them to have to do that, but if he denies everything? He has had two DV arrests. The last was 5 years ago. He doesn't pay for the kids.

Attorney Answers 1


Yes, you can pursue child support through CSE without filing for divorce. The pro is that you would, hopefully, start receiving some child support. The con is that he might file something asking for parenting time with the children.

Lawyers can provide advice away from the courtroom and assistance in drafting documents without becoming your lawyer for the entire case. Those are called "unbundled services." I suppose some lawyers are willing to do "slow pay," but I am not one of them. You might be able to obtain pro bone representation through CU's law school, DU's law school, or Colorado Legal Services. Whether those entities provide good advice depends on who they assign to the case. You can get both good and bad advice from a privately paid attorney, too.

You will need to understand that if he wants a relationship with his children, the court will give him an opportunity to have a relationship, unless you can show that he is an actual danger TO THE CHILDREN. Courts are not going to allow your children to testify in your divorce. If they have something to say, the Judge might, upon proper motion, interview them in chambers; although, most Judges I have known over the years will not conduct such an interview. Or, you can ask the court to appoint a Child and Family Investigator. If you qualify as indigent, the state will pay your portion of that person's fees. The CFI will talk to the children and let the court know, through the CFI's report, what the children say. However, children do not get to decide whether they have contact, or what kind of contact they have, with the other parent. This answer is provided as general information about a legal issue, is not legal advice specific to a particular case, and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the person asking the question.

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1 comment



Thank you so much for your very detailed advice. I am amazed how much information you gave me. Thank you!