Waving United States flag background and a picture of attorney Sabra Janko

Phone consultations available to promote community health due to COVID-19

Income Calculation

Common Family Law Issue on Appeal Income Calculation For Spousal Maintenance

One frequently-appealed area in domestic relations is calculation of income for support purposes. Spousal maintenance is financial support provided by one spouse to the other after a dissolution. Child support is support intended to financially benefit a child. Support awards are based, in part, on the incomes of the parties. There are often disagreements about how incomes should be calculated. For example if an employee receives a non-guaranteed bonus or if his or her income fluctuates substantially, there can be disagreements on how income should be calculated. Income can also be imputed to a party who does not actually earn it for support purposes, if that party is capable of earning the income. Of course, such imputation can be prone to disagreement.

There may be some resentment on the part of the payor about a support award. The paying party may feel that the other spouse should support him or herself based on income and or assets. If the spouses together earn less than $240,000 a year, there are maintenance guidelines that specify an award. The amount is discretionary, however and a court is not obligated to award the amount. There are also several other factors relevant to a determination of spousal maintenance in addition to current and historical incomes. For example, if one spouse did not earn an income during the marriage, though has substantial separate assets, that spouse may not require support from the other.

If the spouses earn more than $240,000 together, then the Judge has even more discretion in a maintenance award because the guidelines do not calculate awards above this income. Maintenance is usually time-limited and generally lasts about 1/3 to 1/2 the length of the marriage. However it can also last long-term. Marital property division is decided before maintenance because a determination of whether a spouse has sufficient property to meet his or her reasonable needs is a prerequisite to determining maintenance.

Educational programs and Income

There are often disputes about a spouse who claims no income due to attendance in an educational program. In education situations, the court will look at whether such a decision is a “good faith educational plan.” Generally this will revolve around what the spouse's existing education and employment skills and experience are. It is important to determine whether the educational program would increase his or her earning potential. It is possible to require proof of educational enrollment for each quarter and then modify the amount if the spouse is not continuing to attend an educational program.

How can an attorney help? An attorney can assist you with an appeal because an appeal is based on an error of fact or law which has to be specifically identified in the trial transcript. Error identification that has legal relevance can be difficult for those without an in-depth knowledge of the law.

Janko Law - Turning Change Into Opportunity

Divorce and family law matters are difficult to navigate alone. The court system is more complex than it should be. With offices in Colorado Springs and Denver, we can guide you through the experience by handling pleading and motion preparation and filing, negotiation, mediation, and court proceedings from start to finish. This allows you to focus on moving forward to a better future rather than on trying to figure out how the overly complex court system works. Remember that change often creates new opportunity and a better future. Janko Law can help ensure that your best interests are protected. Contact us at 720-780-0115 or complete our online form to set up a free thirty-minute informational consultation.

Contact Us for a Consultation
719-394-9792
720-780-0115