Posted On: August 19, 2012

Child Tax Exemptions: What am I allowed to claim?

By Teresa A. Drexler
Partner and Attorney
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

Many people come to our office seeking parenting orders not only for parenting time and expenses for the children, but also with regard to who gets to take child tax exemptions each year. A common question we are asked is “Why does he/she get to take tax exemptions when he/she never sees the children?” Many people come to our office and do not understand why the other parent should be entitled to claim any exemptions if the children are not residing with that parent at least ½ of the time or in some cases simply at all. The bottom line, however, is that the other parent is entitled to claim exemptions because Colorado law provides them this right.

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I stop at this point and state that our Family Law Division attorneys are not tax attorneys or accountants. Our standard response to tax related questions is to advise our clients to go seek the assistance of a tax attorney or accountant. However, we can tell you that Colorado law provides the sharing of tax exemptions for parents who share the financial burden of raising children. Sharing does not mean equally sharing the total financial burden that comes with raising children. Colorado law states that if a party is paying court ordered child support, regardless of whether or not they are exercising any parenting time or contributing to other costs for the child, the paying parent is entitled to their proportional share of the child tax exemptions. For example, if Mother makes $150,000 per year and Father makes $75,000 per year, Mother will be entitled to approximately 67% percent of the tax exemptions and Father may be entitled to take 33%. Typically this equates into a schedule where, in an example with two children, Mother might take the tax exemption for two years and Father might take the tax exemptions in the third year. There are a variety of ways to structure the exemptions and it is important it is clear in any Agreement or Order of the Court as to who is taking which exemption each year.

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Posted On: August 13, 2012

A Hollywood Annulment

By Jessica L. Hughes
Attorney At Law
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

We’ve all seen them. The cliché romantic comedy or the storyline concocted to draw in viewers for May sweeps. The “will they/won’t they” couple, through a drunken haze or a misunderstanding of foreign culture, end up hitched. Yet in the harsh reality of the next morning’s light one of the parties adamantly insists the night before was just “one big mistake.” The cliffhanger leaves the audience wondering how such a horror can be rectified.

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Like a shining beacon of hope one little word is uttered… annulment. How simple it sounds. The court can invalidate the marriage and it will be as if nothing ever happened. However, an annulment is not as simple as proposed by our good friends in Tinseltown. Because, let’s face it, the legal particulars of invalidating a marriage would not be as endearing as Hugh Grant stumbling through his latest apology.

Perhaps the leading misconception surrounding annulments is the ease with which they are granted. Though the parties are spared the 90 day waiting period associated with a divorce, the grounds for which an annulment may be granted are far stricter. For an annulment to be granted in Colorado, proof of one of the following must be provided:

(1) A party lacked capacity to enter the marriage as a result of either mental capacity, infirmity or influence of drugs or alcohol;

(2) A party lacked physical capacity to consummate the marriage;

(3) A party is underage and did not have consent of his or her parent;

(4) One party entered into the marriage in reliance upon a fraudulent act or representation of another that goes to the essence of the marriage;

(5) One or both parties entered into the marriage under duress;

(6) One of both parties entered into the marriage as a jest or dare;

(7) The marriage is prohibited by law

In addition to meeting one of the reasons listed above the parties must begin annulment proceedings within a certain time frame. The reason you seek an annulment will dictate the timeframe you have to file for an annulment. For example, if you wish to annul your marriage because of fraudulent representation that goes to the essence of the marriage you must begin proceedings within 6 months of learning of the fraudulent representation. Whereas if you want to annul your marriage because a party lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage you have one year after learning of the condition.

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Posted On: August 13, 2012

Bankruptcy and Divorce: Get Out of Debt before Getting Out of Marriage

By Haily Kolberg
Attorney At Law
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

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We’ve all heard the phrase “drowning in debt.” We’ve also heard the phrase “treading water.” If, when it comes to your debt, you are “treading water” but know you’ll soon get divorced, this article is for you.

Jack and Jill are getting divorced. They have approximately $30,000 in debt due to credit cards and unpaid medical bills. In the state of Colorado, debt acquired during the marriage, like their medical bills and credit cards, is normally treated as debt of the marriage, even if it was acquired by only one spouse and not the other. When Jack and Jill’s family splits into two, the household with the least income is hurt more financially. If Jack and Jill together were only “treading water” when it comes to debt, now that Jack and Jill have separated, they probably each feel like they are “drowning in debt.”

What should Jack and Jill do? Well, first, having a lot of debt makes any divorce messy, and going further into debt paying attorneys to split up Jack and Jill’s existing debt doesn’t make a lot of sense. What Jack needs to realize is that even if the Court orders Jill to pay their Visa bill, the credit card company can come back and sue Jack if Jill doesn’t pay. The credit card companies will say their contract is with Jack and that the divorce orders don’t affect a thing.

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Posted On: August 7, 2012

Gasper Law Group – Helping People First

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

Our motto is our mission, a goal that all of us at The Gasper Law Group try to incorporate into our both our personal and professional lives. It may seem cheesy. And trust me, I know more lawyer jokes than anyone. However, the attorneys at the Gasper Law Group uphold the highest ideals in legal ethics and compassion to clients, their families, and all who call us for help.

Why? Well because we are human. We understand that clients are human and everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, even during those stressful times that fail to show a client at his or her best. We try to show grace and help people through some of the most trying times in their lives. We understand there are emotions. We understand that this is your family. We understand that you need to be an active part of the process and the solution. We do not make decisions for our Clients. We do not operate with our own agenda.

We advocate for our Clients and we try to encourage our Clients to do the right thing. We also go above and beyond at time for clients. Here are some other examples of what we have done for our clients and others in the past:

1. Offered low retainers and monthly payments from the very earliest days of The Gasper Law Group so that more people can have quality legal representation;

2. Taken a client shoe shopping when she was only allowed a single pair of shoes during her marriage;

3. Given baby clothes, toys, books and other things to families in need;

4. Operated an emergency line and actually answered the phone at 2 a.m. or on vacation from California;

5. Prepared for hearings at 3 a.m. with clients overseas;

6. Relocated clients to safe housing;

7. Helped clients get into substance abuse or mental health treatment;

8. Contributed to charities and participated in civic organizations;

9. Volunteered through churches;

10. Coached and judged mock trial;

11. And most importantly – We Listen!

Posted On: August 7, 2012

Hillbillies, bagels and “No-Fault” Divorce

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

When “I Do” turns into “I’m pretty sure I don’t” your friendly neighborhood courthouse comes rushing to your aid with a nifty little tool called “Divorce.”

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But why have you decided that you are no longer willing to have and hold ‘til death do you part? Guess what? The courts don’t care. That’s the beauty of the no-fault divorce in Colorado.

Most states offer no-fault divorces and most of those states don’t even require a statutorily mandated separation period. Colorado is one of those states where you need only represent to the court that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The courts don’t care to know who spends every waking hour at the strip club, who pelted who with a bagel (actual example), or who leaves wet towels on the bathroom floor. More importantly, your judge doesn’t want to hear, “But she cheated on me!” Similarly, your judge is not concerned with violence against each other unless that violence affects minor children.

One reason most states have transitioned to no-fault divorces is because the courts just don’t have the time or patience to listen to who hates who more. The other big reason is because courts also don’t want to listen to the served party argue as to why he or she would prefer to remain married.

Divorce is devastating in every aspect: financially, emotionally, and mentally. Most people can’t count divorce as one of the most enjoyable things they’ve done. While you may want to tell everyone just how awful your soon-to-be ex is, the courts won’t listen. The events and emotions leading up to the decision to divorce are deeply important to you, but no-fault means no-blame. “Irretrievably broken” means the marriage can’t be fixed. That’s it. That’s all the judge wants to know.

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Posted On: August 2, 2012

Finding the Cost of Freedom: Splitting Personal Property

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

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Years, sometimes decades, worth of furniture, china, tools, books, DVDs and Christmas ornaments need to be separated at the time of a divorce.

As with all marital property issues in the State of Colorado, the law requires the court to divide the personal property accumulated during a marriage fairly and justly. However, the judge isn’t going to go through the marital home for you and make sure you each get an equal number of forks, spoons and Tupperware containers. If you and your soon to be ex cannot agree on the division of personal property yourselves, a Court will be more likely to take a hatchet than a scalpel to the personal property at issue.

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