When Does Child Support End?

Today we’re going to a little bit about child support and when child support end, and how to get a court order that says that I don’t owe child support any longer.

A feature of Colorado’s child support law is that child support must be paid until a child turns 19 years of age or is considered emancipated by law. If a child has special needs the court may have jurisdiction to determine that child support be paid beyond age 19.

What do you do when children that you’ve been paying child support for, are turning 19 years of age? The most common way is for the parties to renegotiate the child support amount as each child turns 19 years of age. That would require exchanging financial affidavits and child support worksheets. This is important because many people think, “If I have three children and I’m paying 1,000 dollars a month on child support, when the oldest turns 19, I’m just going to subtract one third of the 1,000 dollars and that’ll give me child support payments for the other two.” That’s not necessarily so. We use child support worksheets and a lot of times those child support calculations need to be re-figured as each child turns 19.

You’re not allowed to unilaterally change a child support amount, unless there’s a written, signed agreement of the parties or a court order. So it requires a motion to modify when each child turns 19, except when there’s only one child and that child has turned 19. Then you can terminate child support. I’ve had a lot of cases in the past where the parent who is paying child support has the money taken out of their pay check, and the other parent, even though the children turned 19, refuses to allow the garnishment or the wage assignment to be canceled and we have to go to court and file a motion.

By the time we get to court, often time the parent has overpaid in child support. Meaning the parent who’s received the child support will owe money back to the parent who’s been paying it.

This is another situation where an experienced family law attorney should know the law and should be able to help you navigate through the motion to modify or terminate child support when a child turns 19 years of age.

Recent Changes to Spousal Maintenance

This topic involves the changes to the spousal maintenance statute in Colorado. Colorado has a very unique statute that deals with spousal maintenance. It’s found in Colorado revised statute 14-10 114. And this statute was passed on January 01, 2014 to provide the court with advisory guidelines that take into consideration a number of factors in a court’s decision as to whether or not one party should receive spousal support from the other party. This law formally called those kinds of support payments alimony. In many states in the country it’s still called alimony, but in Colorado we call it spousal maintenance or spousal support.

As a result of Congress passing a massive tax bill in 2017, as of January 02, 2019 there will be an impact to the Colorado spousal maintenance statute. Under the way that the law is written now, spousal maintenance paid by one party to the other is considered to be a tax deduction to the spouse that’s paying spousal maintenance and must be declared as income to the spouse who receives the support payment.

As of January 02, 2019, that’s no longer going to be allowed. So, Colorado has a new law that will take into consideration the definitions of gross income of the parties in adjusting the spousal maintenance that must be paid if there is a ruling by the court or an agreement by the parties.

There’s two parts to spousal maintenance in every case that you need to consider. Does the spouse who is requesting spousal maintenance have a need? That’s called necessity, for economic support. And does the spouse that is being asked to pay spousal maintenance have the ability to pay?

So, there are a lot of factors that go into this including how debts are to be paid, how property has been divided, whether there is any income producing property to either party. It’s very wise to consult with a lawyer and possibly a CPA to see how this is going to impact you and your taxes.

The other thing that I want to emphasize is this: for marriages that are going through divorces in 2018, before the new law kicks in on January 01, 2019, if you have a signed written agreement as to the amount and duration of spousal maintenance and it is approved prior to January 01, 2019, then the spouse paying spousal maintenance will be allowed to claim the deduction for everything that is paid in spousal maintenance and the spouse who is receiving the maintenance will be required to report it as income. As long as it’s done before January 02, 2019.

Filing an Emergency Motion

I want to talk to you a little bit about emergency motions and what happens when a parent files an emergency motion. Primarily, these emergency motions are about custody and visitation. So I want to give you a couple examples as to what the law says.

The most common type of emergency motion is one where a parent asks the court to suspend or restrict the other parent’s parenting time. A lot of people say, “Can a judge do that? Can a judge restrict my parenting time?” The answer is yes. A court has the authority to do that. Primarily, what you see in those cases is that the child’s physical, emotional, or developmental well-being has been significantly impaired by a parent’s behavior or conduct.

I can give you quite a few examples of that, but the one that most comes to mind is a situation where a parent presents a danger to a child. This is called the Endangerment Standard. When this happens, of course, a motion has to be filed, and the court, upon receipt of the motion, will set the matter for an emergency hearing. Until the emergency hearing is set, parenting time will be suspended. That means that there won’t be contact between the parent who has visitation and the children pending the hearing.

At the hearing, the court has to go through a test to see if endangerment exists. Is the child’s safety at issue because of a parent’s drinking of alcohol in excess, drug addiction, or other kinds of behavior like domestic violence perpetrated against the other parent? If the court finds that a child is being endangered, that there is a safety issue of some kind, then the court can set the parameters for visitation.

The Recommended Dos and Don’ts in Your Divorce or Custody Case

Experienced lawyers, who exclusively practice Family Law, know that clients can become their own worst enemy. These kinds of behaviors may not be intentional, but nonetheless, actions that seem harmless can become much more harmful while in the “divorce court.”

Do not rely on your spouse for information or for you to be treated in an honest fashion once the divorce or custody action commences. As an example, many folks do not have written signed agreements and operate by trusting each other to be, “fair and honest”. It is my experience, that once a Family Law case makes its way into the court system, parties tend to take positions and postures that are like prized fighters before the main event. The information you once had no problem accessing, may be cut off. Confusion as to what to do and how to get that kind of information may become a real challenge. In a recent case, when the wife filed for divorce and custody of the parties’ children, she decided that because she had always paid all of the bills and had all of the banking information, that it was no longer necessary for her to share that information with her husband. In effect, the husband was cut off from the banking information that was held jointly because the wife had changed all of the essential passwords. Whenever the client was told he had to pay a bill that was due, he immediately suspected that his wife was not being honest with him and refused to give her access to the monies she had always had to pay the monthly bills. It is easy to see how this kind of thing can escalate quickly and cause more stress and friction than necessary. To get ahead of this problem, before a divorce is filed, the parties should talk and discuss their monthly bills and expenses in advance and figure out what is needed to keep those bills current. It is a good idea to have a list of the monthly bills and the amounts due before you and your spouse get into any “heated exchanges.”

Do not use Social Media, of any kind, while you and your spouse are in the process of any pending Family Law matters. It is not good idea for you or your spouse to allow the public or your spouse or the parent of your children to have access to recent Facebook postings or other social media sites. A client of mine sent me copies of postings that showed his wife with her new boyfriend on their recent cruise. His wife told him that she was going away with her sister for a wedding, only to find out that this was an untruth. He figured if she is lying about a relationship, she really could not be trusted about anything else and demanded full custody of the child, because he believed it showed that she was unfaithful and a liar. Things in this case quickly got out of hand for both parties.

You must be certain to get the best legal advice possible! This is no time for you to try to handle your Family Law case on your own. Every Divorce and Every Child Custody case is different. If you rely on a friend for advice because that friend went through what you are going through, you are going to get, “BAD ADVICE”. The specific factual details of your case are not going to be the same as your friend’s case, and the strategies that your friend used, most likely will not work in your case. I have had clients come to me and tell me that before I was hired, they received advice from family, from their hair salon, from their co-workers, and a variety of other sources. Getting advice from anyone other than a respected extremely qualified Family Law Attorney, is a very bad idea, and can jeopardize your case.
Do not rely on the Internet for legal advice. There may be hundreds of articles regarding cases similar to yours, but keep in mind, general information from any website is not the kind of information that will prove helpful to you during a Family Law litigation. The websites that provide the public with information may not even be authored by a lawyer and in most situations could be misleading or confusing.

When you are considering any action in a Family Law matter, keep detailed records and notes. Do not discard important text and email communications with your partner that may be found to be helpful in the future. Do not allow the records or your notes to be shared with anyone but your lawyer. If you allow friends or your romantic interests to have access to these kinds or records you may destroy the “confidentiality” provisions of the Attorney/Client privilege. You may be able to preserve invaluable evidence that proves your theory of the case, or can be used to impeach the other party, by carefully keeping and not deleting communications. An experienced lawyer should always be looking towards the day when the lawyer must appear in court and assemble the kind of evidence that supports a client’s claim or defense. Lawyers who are trial litigators, in Family Law, understand the value of critical evidence and will know how to introduce and use the evidence in court that you may not understand.

If you have children and you and your spouse or former spouse are moving through the legal process with a custody matter or a modification issue, do not involve the children in any way. Children are meant to be shielded from their parent’s legal disputes. Judges do not appreciate hearing that parents have shared with the children, the facts or important events in the legal proceeding. These kinds of communications, with children, can result in a judge believing that the only purpose of involving the children was to negatively impact the other parent. An example of this occurred when my client’s ex-husband consistently told the children that the reason he was out of money was because their mother was always taking him back to court for more child support. Involving kids in their parent’s legal disputes is NEVER a good idea.

By obtaining advice from the right kind of Family Law Attorney, you can avoid stepping on the minefields that may result in sabotaging your case, now and in the future!

How to Prepare for Your Testimony in Your Family Law Case

It is always important to be fully prepared whenever you are plan to appear in Court in your Family Law case. Preparation is the key. I spend many hours getting ready for these kinds of hearings and I want my clients to be fully prepared as well. You need to know that your testimony is, “evidence” in your case and the judge will decide if you have been truthful. The judge will give weight to what you have said, based on the judge’s interpretation of your credibility as it relates to the disputed issues. I have observed hundreds of witnesses testify and the single most important factor for any witness is that they present their testimony in an honest and forthright manner.

Parents are not usually “expert” witnesses, so when they testify, they are doing so as “Lay Witnesses.” The Colorado Rules of Evidence define what kind of testimony can be given by “Lay Witnesses”. As an example, in a parenting modification case or a divorce case involving children, an experienced lawyer may want to ask the client their opinion about the childrens’ behaviors when they return from seeing the other parent. Lay witnesses are permitted to give their opinions, but those opinions may have to be “qualified” or a “foundation” established that satisfies the Court.

Remember, that in all Family Law cases there will not be a jury listening to your testimony. Judges, not Juries, listen to the evidence. Judges must decide as the, “trier of fact” whether a witness is “credible”. Credibility goes to the heart of whether or not a judge will believe the testimony and why the judge should rule one way or the other. When a parent testifies in an untruthful manner, it is usually devastating to that parent’s theory of the case or what that individual is ultimately asking the judge to do. Parents, who have poor memories, testify about facts that are inconsistent with the other evidence in the case or who acknowledge a substance abuse or alcohol problem, are not considered “credible” in the eyes of the law and in most cases that kind of testimony is going to be disregarded.

If you are one of our clients, or a family member of one of our clients, and I know that testimony before a judge is going to be needed, we will do many things to prepare you for your testimony well in advance of your hearing and expected testimony, so that you will know what questions or subject matter is expected. Another reason to practice with your lawyer is so that you know what to expect if the judge or the other attorney questions you. In Family Law matters, the most common hearings where testimony is likely needed, occurs at a Temporary Orders Hearing or a Contested Motions or Permanent Orders Hearing. When I prepare for these kinds of Hearings, I can tell you what kind of critical information must be presented to achieve success. As a trial attorney, I can tell whenever a lawyer has not prepared with their clients or witnesses, as it becomes obvious to me. More importantly, if your lawyer does not rehearse with you, you are going to be at severe disadvantage when you appear in front of the judge. Lawyers who do not have trial experience are not the ‘right’ lawyers for family law cases.

Here is a checklist to keep in mind that will assist you in advance of your testimony before a judge in a disputed Family Law Hearing:

  1. Obtain knowledge regarding the location of the courthouse, travel time, parking locations and the actual courtroom where you are expected to appear.
  2. Make sure you meet your lawyer to prepare for your testimony, well in advance of any Hearing.
  3. Know the time that you are expected to be in court and meet your lawyer at the courtroom, which should be well in advance of the starting time for your hearing.
  4. Become knowledgeable about the nature of the pending disputes, your positions and those of the other party. You should be prepared to not only state what you want to see happen, but prepared to answer questions about what you know about the other party’s positions. You should study your notes, text messages, diaries, or anything else that will refresh your memory of events and help you. It is unlikely that a judge is going to allow you to read from a prepared script or your notes, so becoming comfortable with all of the facts and your disputes with the other party, is extremely important.
  5. Become very familiar with the “Exhibits” in your case or the documents that both you and the other party have filed with the court. In most Family Law cases, these documents include Sworn Financial Statements, pay records, tax returns, banking and debt statements, etc. You and your lawyer should go over these kinds of documents to help you prepare for your testimony. In my office, whenever a client is expected to testify, I will provide the client with a file of those documents so that the client can have ample time to read all such materials before the court hearing.
  6. Make an impression with the judge by what you wear and how you look. Ultimately, the way you dress for court will tell the judge that you are taking this matter seriously or not. As the Family Law Advocate for the American Bar Association, recently wrote, “You should dress and groom yourself as though you are preparing for an [important] job interview.”
  7. Always be polite, respectful, civil and courteous when answering questions from your lawyer, the other lawyer, or in some situations where the other party does not have a lawyer, when responding to questions directly from the other party. Do not use derogatory language in describing the other party or when explaining yourself. Eye contact is
    also important as it speaks to your credibility.
  8. Be aware that in the courtroom and even in the hallways, that how you act and what somebody may have overheard you say, may come back to haunt you when you testify.
  9. While it is not uncommon for family or friends to sit in the courtroom during Family Law hearings, you should talk to those people who plan on coming to court, and tell them that they need to not show emotion, nod their heads during testimony or in any way comment about what is taking place during a hearing.
  10. The more experience your lawyer has in preparing clients and witnesses for hearings, the more that kind of experience will directly assist you. In fact, my clients all tell me, after a hearing has been concluded and the judge has ruled, that by rehearsing their testimony beforehand, they became less stressed out over the case and more comfortable. A confident and well-prepared witness always maximizes the chances of success when appearing before the judge.

The Role of a Judge in Colorado Family Court

In Colorado, most people will encounter some sort of hearing at some point during their family law case. I want to discuss the role of judges in family court, there judges considered to be district court judges and other judges are magistrate judges who work under the district court judge. Both types of judges are permitted according to the law to conduct important hearings involving family law disputes such as temporary orders, child support hearings or ultimately to enter final orders.

There is no right to a trial by jury in family law. So all of your cases that involve contested issues are going to be tried in front of a judge. Our Colorado judges have a lot of experience and a lot of training in dealing with different family law issues and so it’s important to recognize that when you’re testifying in court and you wish to make a point in front of the judge, that you try to establish some eye contact with the judge.

Ultimately judges get to decide which of the two parties is more credible. Credibility is a significant issue in these cases and it signifies to a judge which parent or which party may be more truthful than the other parent. So having documents or evidence that back up your position, or in some cases photographs or police reports, to show the court that you are a credible and truthful person is significant in any kind of testimony that you may give.

It is the judge’s responsibility at the end of a hearing to make a ruling and when the judge does make a ruling, whether it’s temporary orders or a permanent orders hearing, the judge will assign either one of the attorneys to write the final orders or the order from the hearing. Or the court, if there are now lawyers involved, will issue an order as to what all those rulings are.

In the magistrate court, there are limitations as to whether you can appeal the ruling of the magistrate under magistrate rule seven, so you should be familiar with that rule. If you have an attorney your attorney should know that rule. And if it is a ruling from the district court, then the appeal process would go to the Colorado court of appeals.

Family Law Cases Involving Children

In Colorado, there are essentially two different kinds of cases that involve children. These cases are called allocation or parental responsibilities, which are actions between parents or third-parties that involve children. There are also cases filed as divorce cases where the parties have children.

As a lawyer, I spend much of my time arguing for the best interest of children. Young children and adolescents are impacted in these kinds of cases in different ways; most of the time, young children will continue to hope their parents will get back together, while adolescents tend to rely more on their friends or outsiders rather than family to help adjust to this massive change in their lives.

Children going through a divorce or a custody situation are going to have to deal with the consequences of a fractured home of parents that are not going to be living in the same household. Maybe mom and dad are not going to be involved in decision making the same way. In many of these cases, a parent moves to another state or out of town, and the parenting time requires the child or children to be shuffled back and forth—all of which are major adjustments for children.

Depending upon the age of the child, there’s going to be dynamic changes to that child’s life and how they can adjust to these changes. I feel that if a parent really cares about their children it’s important to sit down and discuss what’s going to happen in the future with them, and that they get their children the kind of emotional help they need to be able to deal with the future of a separated home.

Effects of Combat on Military Divorces

Service Member & Military Spouse Divorce Help

war and divorce

Military personnel are often put stressful situations during training and during deployment. Sometimes, these job stressors can have a huge impact on your marriage that may lead to divorce. Gordon N. Shayne is a skillful divorce attorney that is sensitive to the unique demands of military life. He provides exceptional legal counsel that is committed to protecting your rights during your military divorce.

The Effect of Combat on a Family

Service members in all branches of the military are required to undergo high levels of stress on a daily basis when preparing for battle. After experiencing the stress of combat, service members may endure any number of emotional or behavioral problems, including:

  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse
  • Depression
  • Other trauma-related mental illness

The stress of these trauma-related behavioral struggles significantly impacts divorce rates in military families. However, because behavioral health concerns can have a significant impact on child custody hearings and spousal maintenance negotiations, it is crucial to have a lawyer to protect your rights throughout military divorce proceedings. Gordon N. Shayne knows what is at stake in your divorce. He is knowledgeable about the specific procedures and rights military service members have regarding custody and other post-decree matters. With personal care and attention, he aggressively protects your best interests and helps your family reach a satisfactory resolution.

Initiating Divorce as a Military Spouse

Divorce can be initiated by husbands and wives of military service members even if their partner is deployed. However, there are specific procedures that apply to a military spouse. Divorce attorney Gordon N. Shayne provides expert military legal assistance & family law help when you need to file for divorce from your spouse who is in the military.

Legal Assistance & Family Law Help for Military Families

When you choose Gordon N. Shayne as your military divorce lawyer, he provides the guidance and advice that comes from over 33 years of legal experience. Mr. Shayne understands how the court may divide assets, child custody, benefits and award spousal maintenance or child support with respect to military households. For proficient legal assistance with military divorce in Colorado Springs, CO, contact Gordon N. Shayne today.

 

Looking for military legal assistance?
Family law attorney Gordon N. Shayne
provides FREE consultation so you can get
the legal advice you need to resolve your
Colorado military divorce.
Call 719-442-6649 today!

Experience Counts

*for those individuals interested in retaining legal counsel and who have the financial means to hire an attorney

Military Divorce Law and Retirement Benefits in Colorado Springs, CO

Proficient Military Divorce Attorney

Retirement and military divorce

Because military benefits depends on the branch of military, the duration of service, and the attained rank before retiring, it is important to seek the help of an proficient divorce attorney that can assess your case and determine benefits eligibility after a military divorce. For over 33 years, Gordon N. Shayne has provided effective and exceptional legal counsel to clients seeking to protect their best interests during difficult times. Mr. Shayne gives his undivided attention to every military divorce case in order to provide the best possible legal advice and has an extensive knowledge of the complexities of military divorce in Colorado.

Military Divorce Law: Why You Need a Lawyer

In Colorado, military benefits are most commonly determined after a service member has reached eligibility to retire. The division of any military retirement, in a Colorado divorce or legal separation, will follow the rules and case law of Colorado, not the military. If the service member obtaining a divorce has not reached eligibility yet, military divorce law states that an order will be included to reserve jurisdiction on the issue until the service member retires. If the service member has reached retirement age, the division of benefits will occur immediately. Individuals in the military with over 20 years of active duty service may be entitled to certain benefits after retirement. However, if the service member is divorced or is seeking divorce, benefits may need to be legally divided between departing spouses. These benefits may include:

  • Retirement pay
  • VA benefits
  • Life insurance
  • Health care

Division of military retirement benefits are determined using the time rule coverture formula. This formula takes into account the number of months the couple was married as well as how long the couple was married while the service member was on active duty. Gordon N. Shayne is an extremely qualified attorney who can calculate of the time rule coverture formula to ensure that the division of benefits in your divorce serves your best interests.

Contact an Experienced Military Divorce Attorney

Gordon N. Shayne is a skillful military divorce attorney with over 33 years of hard-earned legal experience. He can help you navigate the civilian legal process to protect your military retirement benefits after a divorce. Contact him today for a free* consultation.

 

Protect your legal parental rights.
Call Gordon N. Shayne for FREE
consultation and get the legal advice you
need to resolve your Colorado child custody dispute.
719-442-6649

Experience Counts

*for those individuals interested in retaining legal counsel and who have the financial means to hire an attorney

Duties of Parents to Co-Parent

Colorado is governed by the best interest standard. The best interest standard when you’re talking about children, parenting time, and decision making is what the court is going to consider in entering its orders in the absence of an agreement.

Now parents are free to come up with parenting plans in custody and divorce cases, but if they don’t come up with agreements, the court is going to apply Colorado Revised Statute 14-10:124 in determining decision making and parenting time. In all cases involving the best interest of the children, the court must make a decision based upon the factors in the best interest law. That means the court will do an analysis to determine what is in the child’s best interest and what has been the actions of the parent to co-parent. Are the parents able to get along? Are they able to discuss the child’s well-being together and make decisions together? There is always a duty no matter what for both parties to encourage and foster a loving relationship between the child or children and the other parent.

This means that a judge ultimately will decide is a parent involving the other parent in decisions and parenting of a child. Is the other parent supporting the child’s relationship with the other parent? And often times, we find out that a parent is retaliating or vindictive in keeping a child from the other parent or denying the other parent contact. An example of that is when a parent is intentionally cutting off the phone calls between the child and the other parent. That’s not encouraging and fostering a loving relationship between the child and the other parent.

So you should be mindful that your actions and your behavior when you’re going through a custody case and you’re going to be receiving orders in the years to come, you always want to encourage and foster a loving relationship between your children and the other parent.