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Articles Posted in Child Support

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money-money-money-1241634-300x226By:  Michelle L. Searcy

At the most basic level, the Colorado child support calculation is based on the combined income of the parents, the number of children and the number of overnights exercised by each parent in Colorado.  Calculating income for a parent with a job that issues a W-2 is a fairly straight forward process.  However, less traditional forms of income have the potential to complicate calculating child support.  One of the more difficult issues in determining child support occur when a disability occurs with parents, step-parents, or children.  This article addresses those issues under the child support statute, section 14-10-115, C.R.S.

However, death and disability payments are treated differently depending on who is disabled (or deceased) and who is the named recipient of the benefit.  These distinctions determine whether the benefit is considered as income to the parent, income to the child, or an offset against a child support obligation.  As set forth below, the interplay between child support and social security benefits can be somewhat complex. Continue reading

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It is not a common occurrence to have individuals separating immediately around the time of the birth of a child, but it does happen.  When parties are married, this child support and custody issues are usually through the courts via a dissolution of marriage (divorce case).  But what happens to those situations where the parties were never married, or maybe even never together in a relationship? Often times the issue and concern of birth and pregnancy related medical expenses can arise as a financially important issue that requires resolution through the courts as well. Most often these issue of allocating birth and pregnancy costs is something that arises in a paternity case under Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 19.

Most people who share children, but were never married will file what is called an allocation of parental responsibilities (custody) case,  in which issues of parenting time, decision-making, and child support will be dealt with.  These types of cases governed under Title 14 of the Colorado Revised Statute and the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act.  Don’t let the Act fool you, the Section still applies to parties that were never married when going through a APR case.  In regular APR or custody situations, the paternity of the child is not in question and the case can be filed anytime between the birth of the child and the age of emancipation (18).   You cannot file a standard custody case prior to the birth of the child in anticipation of custody issues that may arise thereafter.  However, what is important for expectant mothers contemplating separation, new mothers who have separated from the other parent, and even mothers with young children who have not filed anything with the biological father to know is that  there is no statutory authority for an award of birth related and pregnancy related expenses when you file a case under C.R.S. Title 14.  Pursuant to In Re Custody of Garcia, 695 P.2d 774 (Colo. App. 1984), a case filed under C.R.S. §14-10-123, the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act, which encompasses APR cases, the trial court does not have jurisdiction to make an award of medical expenses associated with the pregnancy/birth of the minor child.  Continue reading

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school-4-1514478-300x226By:  Jessica A. Saldin

There are many issues related to education and school that must be considered as part of a divorce case.  Prior blog posts have discussed some of these issues.  This post is specifically focused on private schooling and how the issue may be treated as part of your divorce case.  There are several questions that you may have if you are considering private schooling for your children while going through a divorce.  

One of the first questions may be, “can I enroll my children in a private school?”  This question is related to general questions about educational decision making responsibility.  Courts in Colorado tend to find that joint decision making responsibility is in a child’s best interests unless there are specific circumstances that cause the court to find otherwise (for example, in situations of domestic violence, if one parent refuses to communicate regarding decisions, etc.).  Therefore, if you already have orders delegating educational decision making responsibility, the decision of the school in which you enroll the child must be made in accordance with the delegation in your orders.  If you do not have orders regarding decision making, it is always best to try to reach an agreement with the other parent.  Even if there is not an order requiring joint decision making responsibility, courts prefer to see parties that try to reach decisions jointly.  Simply making a unilateral decision can adversely affect the decision making orders the court eventually enters.  However, you also need to keep in mind that, if you are requesting sole decision making responsibility because of domestic violence, lack of responses from the other parent, etc., if a joint decision is made on the issue that could be considered by the court as evidence that joint decision making responsibility is best for the minor child. Continue reading

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By: W. Curtis Wiberg

In a divorce case, a higher income earning spouse may be “on the hook”  to pay maintenance (alimony) and child support. There are divorces, however, in which this higher income earning spouse is in his or her sixties and nearing retirement age. Some dads have children when they are in their fifties, or later. In other cases, a divorcing couple, after a longer term marriage, splits up after their children are adults, thereby leaving spousal maintenance as the sole support issue to be determined.  The question arises in these cases as to whether that higher income earning spouse is going to be able to retire when reaching retirement age or whether the law requires that spouse to keep the income rolling in regardless of that his or her age.  Prior to changes in statute, there was already case law supporting the notion that there was a valid correlation between retirement and modifying support obligations. Statute now codifies such notions.

The Colorado Legislature has addressed this issue in C.R.S. 14-10-122, which states:

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By:  Jessica A. Saldin

Starting August 8, 2018, there will some statutory changes being made to the Colorado Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (the main statute/law that governs Colorado divorce and custody cases).  As these changes may have major impacts on your divorce or custody case, it is important to know what they are.  A few of the statutes are undergoing minor word changes, which are not being discussed in this article.  The major changes, which will be the primary focus of this article, affect the statutes governing spousal maintenance and child support.

C.R.S. 14-10-114 is the statute that governs maintenance (often called spousal support or alimony).  As discussed in a prior blog post, the federal tax code is changing in 2019, with an impact on how maintenance payments are treated for tax purposes.  It used to be that a payor’s maintenance payments were tax deductible to the payor and a recipient’s maintenance payments had to be claimed on the recipient’s taxes as income.  Starting in 2019, the recipient will not have to declare maintenance payments as income; however, the paying party will not get a deduction for maintenance paid.  As mentioned in the prior post, such was anticipated to have an effect on Colorado’s maintenance law because the formula was created with the understanding that maintenance would be tax deductible and taxable, respectively.  As anticipated, the Colorado legislature has made changes to Colorado’s maintenance law to account for these federal tax changes. Continue reading

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By:  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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By: 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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By: 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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By:  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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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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