Contrary to popular belief, men don’t always pay women maintenance (Colorado for “alimony/spousal support”), and child support isn’t just some random, arbitrary number the court imposes on a parent to punish them.
Believe it or not, there’s a point to, and a reason for, every Court Order in a dissolution of marriage (“divorce”) proceeding, but have you ever asked yourself “Why does the State of Colorado care so much about what we do with our money and our family?!” The short answer is … because they don’t want to be financially responsible for you and your kids.
The purpose of maintenance is to ensure that both parties are able to be self-sufficient after the divorce – i.e., that one party isn’t forced to go on welfare, collect food stamps, etc. Maintenance is be awarded based on a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, the division of martial assets and debts, the receipt spouse’s needs, the payor spouse’s ability to pay, the length of the marriage, and so on.
As I discussed in my previous article, maintenance may be treated as taxable income through the end of 2018 – which means that it factors into the calculation of child support. Parties can contract out of maintenance by waiving it, and even if maintenance is agreed to, the parties can elect to make it modifiable or non-modifiable. There are benefits to both, and you should consult a lawyer before making such a big decision.
The same can be said generally of child support. The purpose of child support is to ensure that the child, now shared between two homes, continues to have the same monetary/lifestyle benefits as s/he did while the parents were married and living together in one home. The payment of child support is not tax deductible, nor is it considered income to the receiving spouse.
This bears pointing out: child support is not a penalty; it is for the benefit of your child.
Child support is primarily based on two factors: 1) number of overnights (custody), and 2) income. As easy as that may seem, it what is considered “income” for purposes of child support is complicated unless both parents are W2 employees only, and have no outside income (lottery winnings, inheritance or trusts, monetary gifts from family, and so forth).
For instance, overtime pay may or may not count as income, depending on certain factors. And as stated above – maintenance counts as income for purposes of child support, and generally reduces the overall support. You cannot contract out of child support.
Some want to pay more in maintenance, which means less in child support; some would rather pay more in child support and none in maintenance. It depends on you, your family dynamics, your financial picture, and so forth.
If this sounds complicated, that’s because it is! And it’s also why it’s so important to have someone who knows and understands the law on your side to fight for you.
Contact me today and I can help you figure out what is right for you.