Common Types of Domestic Relations Actions – Part 2
There are several common areas of domestic relations law that are important to understand. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, as are many others. That means that marital misconduct, other than some instances of economic misconduct, are not relevant. Following are the most common types of actions heard in domestic relations courts.
If there are children of the marriage, the Court has to make a child support determination. Child support is paid from one parent to another. The Separation Agreement or court order will have to specify the amount and who is paying whom, or that neither party will pay support to the other. There are statutory guidelines for child support and spousal maintenance. Both sets of guidelines are based on the incomes of the parties. In addition, child support is also based on the number of overnights with each parent and some additional child-related expenses, such as medical insurance premiums and work-related childcare expense. Child support is governed by C.R.S. § 14-10-115. Modification of both child support and spousal maintenance is governed by C.R.S. § 13-14-122.
Child support can be requested through the court system or through the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSE). The first method is a court process and the second is an administrative process. CSE will establish a support order, however will not establish a parenting plan unless the parties present an agreed-upon plan. On the other hand, a court will require establishment of a parenting plan. CSE is a free service to establish a court order, however it usually takes longer to establish than through the court system.
If you are filing with the court for allocation of parental responsibilities, the court will address child support simultaneously so in that situation there should be no need to separately request an administrative proceeding. There are also certain aspects of support that CSE will not pursue. For example, CSE uses actual income and does not make arguments to impute income. Therefore, if you believe that the other parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court process can better address that situation.Spousal Maintenance
Spousal maintenance is based on income and the length of the marriage and is governed by C.R.S. § 13-14-114. Spousal maintenance may be paid by one former spouse to another. However, the spousal maintenance guidelines are only advisory for the court. The Separation Agreement or court order will specify whether each spouse is waiving or receiving spousal maintenance. If the guidelines show that the other spouse should receive spousal maintenance and you oppose, you will have to present a case as to why the other spouse does not actually require it, perhaps based on access to other financial resources.
On the other hand, if you want to obtain spousal maintenance when no guidelines amount is shown, you have to explain why you require it. The court also considers other factors in determining whether one spouse should pay maintenance, in what amount, and for how long. In addition to income and length of the marriage, the Court will consider generally:
- Each parties’ financial resources
- The marital lifestyle
- Marital property division
- Income, employment and employability
- Whether the income at the time of the final order differs from historical incomes
- The length of the marriage
- The amount and duration of any temporary maintenance
- The age and health of the parties
- The existence of any extraordinary healthcare needs and out of pocket costs
- Contributions to the marriage; economic and noneconomic
- Contribution of separate property to the marriage
- Tax consequences of spousal maintenance
The Colorado Judicial Branch has a free support calculator on its website. Spousal maintenance income is a factor in child support but not vice versa. So, for example if one parent pays spousal maintenance to another, then that income is added to the receiving parent’s income for child support calculation purposes and subtracted from the income of the paying parent.Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs
A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs divorce and family law matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. Give yourself the benefit of hiring one. This allows you to focus on moving on to a better future instead of spending your time attempting to navigate complex legal rules and procedures.
Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law has 24 years of legal experience and protects your best interests and ensures that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 for a free 30-minute informational consultation or complete our online form.