Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in Child Support

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playing-to-win-1508299-300x226By:  Curtis Wiberg

Plog & Stein, P.C.

In my career as a family law attorney, I have seen a lot of problems between divorced spouses as they relate to costs associated with minor children’s school and/or extracurricular expenses. Many divorce orders or separation agreements contain provisions for the parties to share expenses of school and extracurricular activities.  As with many things in life, however, the devil is in the details, and ambiguities in what qualifies an appropriate expense, and then how reimbursements are to occur result in conflict, mischief, and ultimately litigation. It is incumbent on parties (and to their attorneys) to button down with specificity which expenses are to be split and procedures for reimbursement  to avoid problems.

The legal basis for the division of such costs derive from the child support statute, C.R.S. § 14-10-115.  As articulated in the Colorado Appeals Court case of In re: Marriage of Laughlin, 932 P.2d 858 (Colo. App. 1995) “The case-by-case determination of child support with which a trial court is charged must include a consideration of factors related to a child’s standard of living and additional needs. Such factors include recreational costs. In re Marriage of LeBlanc, 800 P.2d 1384 (Colo.App.1990); § 14-10-115(1), C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6B). In addition, this court has recognized that fees associated with athletic activities can either qualify as educational expenses under § 14-10-115(11)(I) or provide a basis under § 14-10-115(3)(a), C.R.S. (1996 Cum.Supp.) for the deviation from the presumed amount of support. See In re Marriage of Ansay, 839 P.2d 527 (Colo.App.1992). The trial court’s post-hearing orders contain sufficient findings to satisfy us that inclusion of the ice skating fees was warranted here. See In re Marriage of Nielsen, 794 P.2d 1097 (Colo.App.1990) (trial court has discretion to deviate from the guidelines where justified provided it makes appropriate findings).”  Per statute, once such fees are identified as being appropriately factored into the child’s overall need, those fees are to be split in proportion to the parties’ incomes. Continue reading

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college-1440364-300x226By: Jessica A. Bryant

When in the middle of a divorce or custody case one aspect that often gets less consideration than some of the immediate issues/concerns is how to handle the children’s post-secondary/college expenses.  Child support in Colorado ends at the age of 19 unless the child emancipates before the age of 19 (becomes legally emancipated, marries, or if the child enters active military duty).  Due to the nature of divorce and custody cases, often parties are focused on the here and now, instead of the future.  

Under Colorado law, for any child support orders after July 1, 1997, unless the child is determined to be mentally or physically disabled, or unless the child is still in high school (but not beyond the age of twenty-one), a court does not have the authority to order any child support payments or other payments for the benefit of the child beyond the age of 19.  This includes the court lacking authority, under child support and divorce statutes, to forcibly order either parent to pay for college (whether the child is under 19 or not).  However, parents are always free to agree to provide for the children’s post-secondary (college) expenses and can do so via written agreement, filed with the court.  That agreement will be every bit as legally binding and enforceable as any other court orders.

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sad-boy-1564119By: Stephen J. Plog

While attending an early morning elementary school band practice with one of my children, I saw something sad and troubling. Though I have had countless occasions in which to hear parents talk about child custody or divorce cases and how they impact their children, I have rarely, if ever, seen, firsthand, how children react when dealing with divorce. The interlude I saw between child and teacher was troubling enough to me that I feel compelled to write this post. My ultimate hope in doing so is to reach parents and to educate them on how a simple, brief conversation might prevent upset to their child down the road.

The specific incident I saw bright and early Monday morning involved an elementary school band teacher, a very nice person by all accounts, and a little boy, roughly 9 years old. While the collective group was working on perfecting one song or another which youngsters might learn in band, the teacher stopped the class to reprimand, appropriately, a few of the boys who had clearly spent little or no time practicing their songs or instruments. She addressed the first couple individually, who essentially responded the they hadn’t had time. The third boy, striving for honesty as little kids generally do when being put on the spot, tried to explain that he couldn’t practice at his mom’s apartment, only his father’s house. The teacher, obtuse to the fact that the little boy seemed nervous or apprehensive to talk, continued to press. The little boy explained that his mother lived in an apartment and that she was concerned that the neighbors would complain about loud music (or attempts at music). At this point, the little boy’s eyes were starting to well up with tears. He did not seem to be upset at the fact that he was being interrogated over his practice habits, but rather that he was having to discuss the fact that his parents were not together. I want to say I recall him saying the word, “divorce,” but cannot swear to such with 100% certainty. The teacher ultimately stopped. Continue reading

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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: Continue reading

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abacus-1415578

Child support in Colorado is based off of worksheet calculations (governed by specific guidelines/formulas set forth in the statute, 14-10-115). One factor that impacts child support calculations is the number of overnights each parent has with the children. For many cases, all children are on the same schedule. In those situations, you take the number of scheduled overnights each parent has with the children and enter such onto the worksheet. However, in many other cases, one schedule may not work for all the children. The question then becomes, how do you calculate child support when the children are on different schedules? Before reviewing the situations below, there are a few definitions that will be helpful:

 

 

  1. Primary care/custody is when one parent has less than 92 scheduled overnights per year with the children. This is commonly referred to as a “Worksheet A” situation.
  2. Shared care/custody: This is when both parents have more than 92 scheduled overnights per year with the children. This is commonly referred to as a “Worksheet B” situation.

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calculator-300x200By:   Stephen J. Plog

In Part 1 of this article, I analyzed the generalities of how bonus and commission income are treated in Colorado child support cases.   To recap, bonus and commission income are specifically enumerated in Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-115 as income which can be included in a child support calculation.   I also discussed various issues tied into what courts might do when including a person’s bonus or commission income to derive their overall income, which included discussions regarding averaging bonuses and commissions over a sensible term of years to come up with an average.    In this Part 2, I will focus on bonus and commission (hereinafter referred to as “B & C”) income, including potential strategies for negotiating or litigating spousal support cases when these types of incomes apply.

The legal analysis for what would be included as income in a Colorado alimony case, pursuant to C.R.S.14-10-114, is essentially identical to the analysis applied in a child support case.  However, as a Denver alimony attorney for almost two decades, it is my opinion that both parties and courts can be much more creative with alimony (maintenance) orders tied into bonuses and commissions.   Thus, there is more potential for sensible and fluid arrangements regarding spousal support, as opposed to child support orders, which are almost always going to be reflective of strict adherence to the C.R.S. 14-10-115 child support guidelines. Continue reading

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calculator-300x200By: Stephen J. Plog

In the vast majority of Colorado divorce or custody cases I have litigated over the years, child support is an issue to be resolved.   Child support is calculated based on a statutory formula, with the primary variables being the income of each party, the number of children, the number of overnight visits per year for each parent, and lesser items such as monthly health insurance premiums or day care costs.   As one might imagine, people can argue over almost anything, including each of these variables that going into the calculation, but for the number of children.   In most cases, the primary variable being argued over is income.    Aside from arguments regarding someone being unemployed or underemployed and the amount of income that should be attributed to them, battles can arise over forms or types of income.    This includes arguments regarding bonus and commission income which one might earn above and beyond their base salary.   Contrary to common belief, bonuses and commissions are income for calculating child support pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-115. Continue reading

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naptime-1314183By:  Sarah T. McCain

At the commencement of the New Year, various revisions to Colorado child support statute came into effect. Changes to the ability to claim a non-joint child on the child support worksheet was covered in a prior blog post.  The other revisions to this statute, while seemingly small in nature, should be reviewed to ensure that they are properly addressed. If they apply to you, it is important to take advantage of these changes.

When you are putting together a Separation Agreement or custody stipulation and child support is at issue, you will find yourself putting together a child support worksheet. This worksheet will provide you with an end figure that is the proposed amount to be paid on a monthly basis. A Court will follow this figure closely but there are avenues for change to the bottom line monthly amount. Colorado Revised Statute, Section 14-10-115(8)(e) covers deviations from the child support guidelines. Prior to January 1, 2017, the language covering this allowed for specific deviations as stated as follows: Continue reading

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By: Stephen J. Plog

10-0-1241769Over the last several decades, divorce rates have increase significantly from those in the 1970’s or 80’s. As divorce has become a more common life event, including in Colorado, social phenomena have also changed. Going back to childhood, we all remember the TV staple, classic, the Brady Bunch. Mike brought “three boys of his own” to the equation. Carol brought “three very lovely girls.” Perhaps the first prime time “blended family” materialized.  Of course, the Brady’s were television and we all live, operate, and deal with the law in the real world. Often times, with the blended family, comes a new child, or children. Mike, Carol, nor anyone else other than those involved in a family law case likely ever stopped to ask about the ramifications of the blended family and new children as relates to the issue of Denver child support.

Having practiced as a Denver area child support attorney for many years, I have fielded various assumptive questions from clients related to child support and changed life situations. Two of the most common are whether a new spouse’s income gets included in a child support calculation, which it does not, and whether people can include or derive a benefit from new children. With the second question, the answer has changed multiple times. Starting January 1, 2017, it will change again.

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By: Curtis Wiberg

empty-pocket-1-1536707In Part 1 of this article, I wrote generally about the consequences of not paying Colorado child support. In this Part 2, I will discuss in more detail what a private attorney can specifically do to enforce a child support order, including contempt, garnishments, judgment liens, and garnishment of bank accounts. As I emphasized in the last article, if you’ve been ordered to pay child support for your children, it is not an obligation you should get behind on because the consequences can be severe.

The most commonly used enforcement technique when child support is not paid is contempt of court, pursuant to Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 107.  Under Rule 107, consequences can include up to a 180 day jail sentence and/or a fine for every child support violation.  These are called “punitive sanctions” and are designed to purely to punish for noncompliance.   “Remedial sanctions” can also be sought as part of contempt proceedings, including the paying of attorney fees.  With remedial contempt, there is still the possibility of jail if the court determines an obligor continues to violate the child support order while having the present ability to pay it. Continue reading