A Financial Support For The Dependent Spouse
In Colorado, what was formerly known as "alimony" is now known as "spousal maintenance," and refers to an amount of money that the higher-earning spouse may be required to pay to the lower-earning spouse for a temporary or more long-term period after a divorce. Spousal maintenance provides a safety net for a spouse who may have a lower earning potential, or who had stayed home to care for a family or home while the other spouse worked. These days, spousal maintenance agreements are enforced for a limited time, and are intended to help the dependent spouse have the time and resources to gainful employment, or to go back to school to learn a new trade or other skills that can bring in income after the spousal maintenance period ends.
Maintenance can be an important issue in many divorces. Determining the financial needs of the party seeking maintenance and the ability of the other party to pay maintenance typically requires a thorough investigation into the financial circumstances of each party. Once all relevant information is obtained, our attorneys pursue the entry of fair and reasonable orders, the purpose of which is to provide an appropriate amount of financial support to the party in need.
How Much Does Spousal Maintenance Cost?
Family law judges used to have total discretion about the amount and duration of spousal maintenance payments that the higher earner would have to provide. Newer guidelines, however, create a more predictable framework for both the amounts and the length of time required for spousal support payments after a divorce. Judges are not required to follow this framework, but the new equation does provide a model for a more standard determination of support, which is calculated as:
- 40 percent of the higher earner's monthly gross income — 50 percent of the lower earner's monthly gross income
Spousal support also takes into consideration the lower earner's needs on two levels:
- Financial contributions the lower earner may have made by putting the higher earner through school
- Financial support needed to get the lower earner back into the workforce, including potential educational costs
How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last?
It is becoming more rare that a judge would order a permanent spousal maintenance order. Typically this is only done in a situation where the dependent spouse is of advanced age or declining health, and therefore would likely be unable to support him or herself without the support.
Judges still have discretion over how long they may order spousal support be paid. Part of the calculation, however, depends on how long the couple had been married.
How Much Is Child Support?
Child support amounts are less discretionary than spousal maintenance, and are determined based on a formula that takes both parents' income into consideration, as well as the number of overnight stays a child or children have at each residence. Child support payments also take into consideration the need for children to have health insurance.
Who Pays Child Support?
Children have the right to be supported financially by both of their parents. The parent who does not have primary parenting time responsibility is the one who will be ordered to pay child support. Parents who had not been married are still obligated to pay child support. However, before a support order can be issued, an unmarried former couple has to establish legal paternity through a DNA test. Sometimes that requires that a father who has disappeared be found. Our experienced Denver child support attorneys at the Law Offices of Rodger C. Daley can help with any or all of these steps.
What Happens When A Parent Doesn't Pay Child Support?
Our lawyers can step in if your ordered child support payments are not arriving, and we can enforce the order through a number of methods, including:
Orders of contempt
Driver's license suspension
Depending on the reason for nonpayment, our experienced legal team can look into seeking an adjustment of an amount paying parent can afford, or else use more aggressive methods to secure child support payments that you are owed, as well as any back payments.
Contact Us With Questions About Your Financial Status After Divorce
Divorce is not only an emotional upheaval, but can also result in a major re-ordering of your finances. One of our attorneys can represent you with integrity and commitment to ensure that any financial support orders are balanced for the needs and resources for all involved. Contact us online or call 303-500-5738 to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our child support/alimony attorneys in Denver.