Alimony Or Spousal Maintenance in Colorado

In 2014, a new law took effect that deals with spousal maintenance. In many states, spousal maintenance is also called alimony. Alimony is where one spouse is paying to the other spouse a continual monthly amount for a certain period of time. The new law that took effect has advisory guidelines for what spousal maintenance will be or should be in any given circumstance that takes into consideration the duration of the marriage, the education of the parties, the employment capabilities of the parties, the life style or standard of living during the course of the marriage, and several other factors that the court has to look at in deciding whether maintenance is appropriate. The advisory guidelines have a formula that would state what the amount of the monthly
maintenance would be if it’s awarded by the court and what the duration of the maintenance would be.

As an example, in a 20-year marriage, where one party has been a stay-at-home mom and the other party has been the primary bread winner, what the court can do is order spousal maintenance for 50% of the length of the marriage, or 10 years. The amount of the maintenance pursuant to the formula would be 40% of the higher wage-earner’s monthly gross less 50% of the lower wage-earner’s monthly gross income, which would either be actual or imputed income, and determine what that monthly maintenance amount would be. Maintenance always terminates in the event of death of either party or the remarriage of the party who is receiving spousal maintenance. It’s always good to check with a lawyer and get proper advice whenever you’re dealing with the issue of spousal maintenance.

How to Avoid Going to Divorce Court

A lot of clients that come in talk about how to reach agreements in a good way to avoid going to court. Many people feel and probably rightly so that the court system is not a very good place to air out your differences when you’re going through a divorce or dealing with the issues of your children and parenting time. I want to talk to you a little bit about effective ways to resolve your differences without having to go to court. One of the biggest reasons that I can give to parents and to anyone that’s going through a divorce or a custody case is that, if you go to court it is a public proceeding. It means that there is no privacy. It’s not confidential in any way. When you go through that process, a judge will make all the decisions, effectively meaning that you’ve lost all control over the outcome of your case because you have not been able to enter into any kind of agreement with your partner or your spouse and you’ve turned this role over to the judge.

Judges are used to doing this. This is their job. They kind of view these things in a black and white decision making role. There’s really not much room for emotion in a divorce or custody proceeding. A judge is going to say, “I’m going to make a ruling that I think is best. I’ve given you the opportunity to work out your differences with your spouse, but you haven’t been able to do that, so you’ve turned it over to me as the judge, and now I’m going to make the decision.”

There are different tools that are available to resolving these kinds of cases, custody,divorce, legal separation. One of them is called the settlement conference. A settlement conference is usually conducted between the parties in a room where everybody sits down and exchanges ideas in a civilized manner to see if the parties can come up with an agreement. Keep in mind that any agreement that you reach in a divorce or custody action must come after the parties have exchanged essential financial information. If the parties are able to resolve their differences in a settlement conference, there are appropriate documents that need to be prepared that the parties have to sign before it ever gets to the judge.  Another way is through mediation. Mediation means that there is a qualified experienced professional who is called a ‘neutral’. ‘Neutral’ means he doesn’t have any interest in who wins or which side is better. He’s supposed to be like the umpire in the baseball game. All he’s doing is calling balls and strikes. He or she is going to try to facilitate a settlement.  As an example, last week I was in a mediation. We had a very experienced mediator.She practices here in town. She helped the parties in separate rooms, come up with a plan that would work for their children. As a result of that, the mediator prepared a written agreement that day. Everybody liked the agreement. They added their own language. They ultimately signed off on the mediation agreement and reached a settlement.

The last thing I want to talk to you about is arbitration, and what is arbitration. Arbitration means that as part of the mediation process, usually a neutral arbiter, once again someone with a lot of experience, could be a retired judge or somebody that’s acted in that role, helps the parties come up with an agreement. If there are things that the parties are unable to agree to, the arbiter makes the call, makes the decision, puts it in writing and that becomes binding on the parties. There are a lot of rules that are associated with arbitration so it’s always important to talk to an attorney before you go to arbitration or before you decide that that’s a way for you to resolve your case, so that you have a clear understanding of what’s at stake before you ever start.

Should I Hire an Attorney When In The Middle Of The Legal Process?

If you are considering the issue of should I hire an attorney or not hire an attorney and what kind of an attorney should I hire, I think you, as a client, should have a very good feeling about the lawyer and the lawyer’s law. Shanye Law can help you at any stage of the legal process. We’re here to help you, contact us today.

Contact Shayne Law if you have any questions.

Court Appearances To Expect During Your Case

Often times clients want to know what kind of court appearances they are going to have to make in their case. Let me give you a couple of examples. If you’re a client that does not live here in Colorado, but your divorce case was here in Colorado and your ex-wife and the children still live here in Colorado, and let’s say you’ve moved to the East Coast of the United States, and you’re now living in Boston. You want to file a motion to be able to spend more time with your children, because during the initial divorce case, you only got very minimal parenting time and you want to change that. Well, if you have a lawyer here in Colorado and you file your motion here in El Paso County,or many of the other counties here in Colorado, the court will allow you to file through your lawyer a motion to appear by telephone, so that for whatever court appearances you have, you can make your presence known by appearing for whatever critical hearings there are by phone.

There’s also going to be other types of situations that come up in any family law case, where if you have a lawyer, a lawyer may be able to stand in for you at things like a status conference or pretrial conference before the judge, and your appearance can be waived. At the initial status conference, parties that have lawyers can agree to stipulate to timelines and avoid costly court hearings, so this is another advantage of hiring the correct or right attorney to assist you in those kinds of cases.