Family Law Clinic

Mission and Clients           

The Family Law Clinic provides free  legal services to low-income Coloradans who need help with family law matters  such as divorces, issues related to parenting time, and child support. Clinic  students work with husbands or wives, and mothers or fathers. The Clinic  typically handles cases in Boulder, which is Colorado’s 20th Judicial District.

Clinic students act as the lead  attorneys on their cases, and work with their clients from the beginning of a  family law case through its conclusion. Students are responsible for gathering  information and documents, preparing court filings, appearing at court status  conferences, mandatory mediation, and court hearings. The Family Law Clinic  helps students to develop good client relationships, to become competent in  Colorado family law in particular, and in Colorado civil practice more broadly.

Scope                    

The Family Law Clinic is a yearlong  course so that students are able to work on their cases from start to finish.  Typically, in the fall semester, students meet their clients, prepare and file  initial court pleadings, take the lead at a status conference, and prepare and  serve initial court-mandated discovery documents. In some cases, the students  may also appear at preliminary court hearings related to parenting time and  child support. At such hearings, students may present opening and closing  statements and examine witnesses. In the spring semester, typically students  prepare for and attend mediation on each of their cases, including preparing  mediation statements. For cases that are not resolved at mediation, students  take the lead on a final contested hearing. Hearings include preparing a  pre-hearing brief, opening and closing statements, and witness examinations.

In addition to casework, students  meet weekly in seminar. In the fall, the seminar focuses on broader issues  about the attorney-client relationship, and considers law as a vehicle for  social change. The seminar also introduces students to exercises in more  general civil practice such as negotiations, drafting demand letters and civil  complaints. In the spring, each student teaches a week of class on a topic of  her or his choosing, related to clinic work or experiences.

Type of Legal Assistance                    

Clients of the Family Law Clinic are  low-income and are referred through other social service programs in the state  or through the courts. The Clinic does not generally accept clients through  direct intake. Typical clients include unmarried parents who have ended their  relationships with their child’s other parent and who have not been able to  work out a schedule for time with their child, or for child support. Students  interview parents, prepare Petitions for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities,  file the Petitions, prepare clients for initial status conferences with the court,  and attend conferences. They prepare for preliminary hearings and work with  clients to prepare court-mandated financial materials. Ultimately, students  prepare for and attend mediations and take matters to the final, contested  hearing in the spring.

Another typical client would be a  spouse in a divorce matter. Students work with clients to prepare and file  responses to Petitions for Dissolution of Marriage. Students determine what  kinds of legal questions might be presented by the dissolution, including  spousal maintenance (formerly known as alimony) and distribution of assets and  debts. If children are involved, students work through issues related to  parenting time, parenting decision making, and child support.