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What Questions Might I Be Asked in My Colorado Family Law Hearing (Part 1)

courtroom-144091__340-224x300By:  Jessica A. Bryant

For many people in the midst of a divorce or custody case, it may be the first time they have ever been to court.  One looming question many people have is what to expect when attending a family law hearing– a large part of which includes what questions they may be asked when testifying.  This series of blog posts will explore potential questions you may face during a hearing on your Colorado family law case, with segments being presented by subject matter.

This Part 1 will focus on what questions may be asked in a hearing on maintenance (spousal support) and/or child support.  Part 2  will focus on what questions may be asked during a hearing on child-related issues (decision-making and/or parenting time).  Part 3 will focus on what questions may be asked during a hearing on issues of property/debt allocation, attorney’s fees, and other miscellaneous questions that may be presented.

For a hearing regarding spousal support and/or child support, one main point of focus will be each party’s income.  Therefore, many of the questions you may face during such a hearing will be on your income.  If you are employed some of the questions may be as follows:

– What are your compensation arrangements (i.e., are you paid by the hour or based on a salary; what is   your hourly rate or your salary)?
– How many hours do you work per week?
– Do you work overtime?
– If you work overtime, is it mandatory or voluntary?- Be cautious of how you answer this question, if overtime is mandatory (required as a condition of employment) it is added to your income before spousal support and/or child support is calculated; however, if it is only voluntary, it is not added to your income for the worksheet calculations
– Do you receive bonuses, commissions, etc.?
– Are your bonuses guaranteed? (If bonuses are not guaranteed and/or are not regularly received, there is an argument they should not be included as income when calculating spousal support/maintenance)
– What bonuses/commissions have you received in the past few years?

If you are self-employed, you may be asked the following questions:
– What has your business’ gross income been in the past several years?
– Do you pay yourself a wage or salary from the business income?
– Are any personal expenses paid out of business accounts?
– What are your business’s ordinary and necessary expenses (when calculating spousal support and/or child support, you can deduct your business’s ordinary and necessary expenses before arriving at your personal income; however, ordinary and necessary expenses under Colorado family law are different than what you can deduct for tax purposes- for example, personal expenses such as cell phone, meals, utilities if working from home, etc. cannot be deducted unless you can specifically prove they are higher for business-related purposes)

If you are not employed, or not employed full-time, you may be asked the following questions:
– Are you physically or mentally incapable of working full-time?
– What efforts have you made to find employment?
– Have you been offered employment and, if so, what was the income and why did you not accept such?
– Are you enrolled in an educational program?
– Are you caring for a child of the relationship that is under the age of 30 months?

A party requesting spousal support might be asked the following questions:
– Do you have sufficient property (including marital property) to provide for your reasonable needs?
– What are your reasonable needs? (One place to look to determine how to answer this question is your Sworn Financial Statement and what monthly expenses you listed)
– Can you support yourself through employment?
– You may be questioned about the expenses listed on your Sworn Financial Statement as to how you calculated such, if they are reasonable, etc.
– Who has historically earned the most income during the marriage?
– What was the lifestyle during the marriage?
– Do you have significant health care needs that contribute to your need for maintenance?

If you are the party being asked to pay spousal support you may be asked the following questions:
– Have you provided any support or financial assistance to the other party since any physical separation?
– Whether you can meet your needs while also paying spousal support
– You may be questioned about the expenses listed on your Sworn Financial Statement as to how you calculated such, if they are reasonable, etc.

If child support is at issue, you may be asked the following questions:
– If you have any other child for whom you are financially responsible (if so, have a copy of the birth certificate and/or child support order to show the court)
– Who pays the health insurance for the children?
– What is the children’s portion of the health insurance premium?
– Do you have any work or education related child care costs?
– Does the child have any extraordinary expenses (tuition, expensive extracurricular activities, out of state travel for parenting time, etc.)

This is not a comprehensive list of all questions you may be asked but it is intended to give an idea of potential questions that may be asked to better allow you to prepare for any potential hearing.  Additionally, presenting evidence at a hearing consists of more than just answering questions.  You also need to be prepared to prove your answer/evidence to the Court through the presentation of exhibits.  Information as hearing procedures and what to expect at a hearing besides the questions, can be found in other blogs on our website.

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