Protecting Your Child Support and Maintenance Rights

Most people facing divorce give some thought to what will happen financially, but the full impact can be hard to assess. Costs associated with maintaining separate households are substantial, and tax consequences may also be overlooked.

Dealing with a divorce “pro se” — that is, without a lawyer representing you — can be a serious financial risk. One of the most important services our Colorado Springs, Colorado, law firm provides in a free initial consultation is to help you understand potential financial obligations you face including child support and spousal maintenance, still commonly called alimony.

Understanding Child Support Guidelines and Exceptions

In almost all cases, a noncustodial parent will be ordered to pay child support. This is an enforceable order with stiff consequences for failure to pay. It is possible to petition for a change in your support order if your circumstances later change substantially, but it is critical to protect your interests while negotiating or litigating your divorce.

The monthly payment amount is calculated based on both parents’ incomes and the number of children. But every family situation is unique, and there are many possible justifications for adjustments. Important factors can include:

  • Accurately assessing income for a parent who is self-employed or earns substantial income from other “non-W2” sources
  • Properly considering the specific child custody arrangement — including the number of overnights children will spend with each parent
  • Fairly accounting for the expenses associated with any child’s special needs

Considerations for Awards of Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

Laws covering spousal maintenance, formerly known as alimony, are less specific. The length of your marriage will be a consideration, along with each spouse’s needs and ability to pay. Generally speaking, a marriage must have lasted 15 years for lifetime spousal maintenance to be considered. In other cases, payments are intended to allow the supported spouse time to become self-supporting. Temporary maintenance, different from permanent maintenance, may be ordered automatically, as a result of a new statute.

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