Spousal support

What Is Imputed Income?

Posted in Child Support,Colorado Laws,Spousal support on May 3, 2019

Imputed income is a court-ordered income amount that may apply to child support cases in which one parent tries to escape financial responsibility by lying about his or her income level. The divorce courts in Fort Collins take child support orders very seriously. They will handle a parent that tries to act outside the system by imposing an imputed income amount on the child support decree. If you have specific questions about your assets or computing income, speak to a Fort Collins divorce lawyer today.

About Colorado Child Support Orders

The courts in Colorado may issue a child support order in a divorce case involving children. The purpose of a child support arrangement is to maintain the child’s quality of living after a divorce. The courts believe a child should not have to suffer a decrease in funds, food, clothing, etc. because of a divorce of the parents. To keep the child’s financial situation the same post-divorce, the courts may order a child support requirement to one spouse – typically, the non-custodial parent.

A parent with a child support order will have to pay the amount stated in the order until the month that a child out of high school turns 18, or until the month a full-time high school student turns 19. Parents have the option of working together to determine how much child support one spouse should pay. If they cannot agree on an amount, however, the courts will set child support payments. A judge will calculate the amount of child support based on the Income Shares Model, which looks at the gross incomes of both parents.

When Might the Courts Impute Income?

During a child support case in Colorado, it is up to both parents to accurately report their income to the courts. The courts will then use these incomes, plus information about what the family usually spends on the child, to assign the noncustodial parent’s share of support. A parent may try to cheat the child support system by reporting a lower income level than he or she actually earns. The parent might think that this will punish the parent by paying less. Since child support payments are for the child, however, and not the spouse, the courts will not allow a parent to get away with reporting an incorrect income.

If the courts discover that a parent is trying to shirk his or her child support responsibility by lying about income, they will assign an involuntary income amount to that parent. This is called imputed income. Imputed income may also be a necessity if a parent is intentionally avoiding work opportunities to remain unemployed or underemployed. To calculate imputed income, a judge will analyze the parent’s earning potential based on education, work experience, location, and other factors. Then, the judge will issue a child support order based off the imputed income, regardless of the parent’s actual income.

For example, if a parent was earning $100,000 a year, but then the year of the divorce switches to a job earning $50,000, a judge may assign an imputed income at the $100,000 salary level. The parent would then have to pay the amount based on $100,000, even if he or she has a job that pays $50,000. Each case is unique. A judge will assess the specific situation to make sure the parent in question actually has the ability to make more but is intentionally making less, or that the parent is covering up his or her actual income. Then, the judge will assign an imputed income amount he or she deems appropriate.

5 Myths About Colorado Alimony

Posted in Spousal support on June 21, 2018

Alimony, or “spousal maintenance,” is a payment structure that plays an important role in divorce. When a couple divorces, it’s likely one spouse makes more money than the other, and the judge handling the case may require alimony payments to the lower-earning spouse. In many cases, the judge will require these payments to continue into the foreseeable future, or for a set amount of time.

The goal of alimony is to provide financial rehabilitation to a lower-earning spouse for enough time that he or she can improve his or her financial situation. Alimony can also help a divorcing spouse find a new place to live. While it’s vital to understand how alimony may play a role in your pending divorce, it’s also important to separate myth from fact concerning alimony. There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding alimony in Colorado.

Myth #1: Alimony Payments Are Permanent

The judge may decree “permanent” alimony payments, but this probably isn’t the best word to describe this type of payment structure. “Permanent” alimony payments will extend to a specifically designated length of time beyond the end of the marriage. They may also continue longer if the marriage has been along one. Judges very rarely grant lifelong alimony payments and typically only do so in rare and unique circumstances.

Myth #2: The Amount I Receive in Alimony Is Up to My Attorney

While hiring an experienced divorce lawyer is a good idea for anyone expecting to divorce in the future, it’s important to remember there are several legal precedents in place for determining alimony. The court already has eligibility criteria in place, regardless of your lawyer’s level of experience. Depending on the financial health and assets of each spouse, the alimony structure can fluctuate greatly.

Myth #3: My Alimony Settlement Is Final

Your alimony settlement is not set in stone. Several factors may justify an adjustment or termination to your alimony. For example, if an ex-spouse receiving alimony earns a promotion and sizeable pay increase, the exes may decide to terminate the alimony payments early. If the recipient of alimony payments remarries, alimony payments will stop. You may also file a petition to have your alimony payments reduced or terminated if you have evidence that your ex-spouse’s financial situation has improved since the divorce or he or she hid financial assets during the alimony settlement.

Myth #4: Only Men Pay Spousal Maintenance

Men are often not the only spouse working, and men are not the primary income earner in many American households. The formula for calculating alimony refers to individual income, the length of the marriage, and the couple’s shared property. There are no sex-based restrictions for alimony. While it may be more common for ex-husbands to pay alimony to their ex-wives, a woman does not automatically receive alimony payments after divorce simply for being a woman. Any woman who divorces a lower-earning husband should expect to pay some type of alimony to her ex-husband if the divorce meets the appropriate criteria.

Myth #5: Common Law Marriage Doesn’t Qualify for Alimony

Common law marriages are still something of a grey area in Colorado, so there is no definitive way to gauge when two people living together are married under common law. If such a couple separates, alimony is still possible with sufficient evidence to prove both partners shared financial assets, such as jointly filed tax returns, joint bank accounts, and joint insurance policies.

If you are unsure about alimony or worried about how much you may owe a soon-to-be ex-spouse, speak with a reliable family law attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you build a strong case to receive the alimony payments you deserve, or to avoid paying more alimony than you reasonably should pay.

What Are Different Types of Alimony?

Posted in Divorce,Separation,Spousal support on May 9, 2017

Alimony is one of the more hotly debated aspects of many divorce cases. Alimony, referred to as “spousal maintenance” in Colorado, is a court-ordered payment one spouse must give to the other spouse after a divorce or legal separation. A spouse may have to pay alimony for the maintenance and support of a dependent spouse. A “dependent” spouse is one who makes less money than the other spouse. There are many considerations when determining alimony – a main one of which is the type.

Colorado courts recognize five types of alimony:

Separation Alimony

If one spouse is unable to support him or herself during a legal separation, the courts may order the other spouse to pay maintenance or alimony. The question of self-sufficiency in these situations may depend on the spouse’s job, income, housing payments, bills, and the lifestyle he/she grew accustomed to during the marriage.

If you and your spouse reconcile, alimony payments end. If you turn your legal separation into a divorce, the courts may change your separation alimony into another type. Separation alimony may also be “temporary alimony” if the courts award it to a spouse during divorce proceedings. Temporary alimony can include payment for daily expenses and divorce costs, and it will end/change upon official termination of the marriage.

Rehabilitative Alimony

When one spouse is not self-sufficient, the courts may order rehabilitative alimony to give the spouse a financial crutch while he/she finds the means to care for him/herself (and any minor children included). Typically, courts order this type of alimony for a specific amount of time, giving the receiving spouse a timeframe for finding employment or expanding employment skills.

There is no set amount of time for rehabilitative alimony – the judge will make this determination based on the specifics of each individual case. Once the spouse can earn money and take care of him or herself, the other spouse can stop making maintenance payments. When the timeframe ends, the court will review the situation and make appropriate changes.

Reimbursement Alimony

A judge may order this type of alimony to reimburse a spouse if he or she paid for the other spouse’s education or job skill training during marriage. In these situations, the spouse who accepted the gift during marriage will have to repay the expenses in alimony payments – either a full or partial amount.

Permanent Alimony

In a permanent alimony agreement, the courts order payments to continue indefinitely. The spouse making maintenance payments will have to continue making them monthly until the courts order otherwise. Colorado judges will consider issues that affect employability, such as physical health and age, when ordering permanent alimony. The courts may make this order for many reasons, including if the dependent spouse:

  • Has a disability or handicap and is unable to work.
  • Married without having any employment skills.
  • Has no work experience due to raising children and/or taking care of the home during marriage.
  • Cannot maintain the standard of living he/she enjoyed while married without alimony.

Despite the name, this type of alimony is not always permanent in Colorado. Typically, courts will not order alimony forever, except in some long-term marriages (20 years or longer). Instead, one spouse must make maintenance payments until the dependent spouse can acquire sufficient job skills to support him or herself.

Lump Sum Alimony

If one spouse does not want any assets, property, or items of value form the marriage, a judge may order the other spouse to pay a one-time lump-sum alimony, or “alimony in gross” in lieu of the property.

 

If you and your spouse are considering a legal separation or divorce in Colorado, contact the spousal support attorneys at the Law Office of Stephen Vertucci, LLC. Talk to a lawyer at our office to learn about each type of alimony in more depth according to your specific situation.