August 27, 2013

When can Child Support Be Modified? Different approaches by the Colorado Court Appeals in modifying child support.

By: The Gasper Law Group, PLLC.

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Under Colorado law, child support may be modified where the parties mutually agree to change custody of their minor child/children. Yet, the law becomes hazy when determining the impact this mutual agreement may have on the modification of child support. Questions arise: Is child support modified at the time the custody actually changed or at the time a party files his or her motion? May the support obligation be modified for the obligor/payer, the Obligee/receiver, or both? Does the court retroactively apply the modification? What happens to any child support debt or arrearages existing prior to the modification in the event the change in child support is applied retroactively? Will the child support enforcement units of each state recognize the modification?

Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-122(5) specifically states “the provisions for child support for the obligor (payer) under the existing child support order, if modified pursuant to this section, will be modified as of the date when the physical care was changed.” Though this language appears simple enough, the divisions of the Colorado Court of Appeals have uncovered a complexity in the language. One division of the Court of Appeals determined this language allowed for modification of child support from the date the custody changed. See In re the Marriage of Emerson, 77 P.3d 923 (Colo. App. 2003) Whereas another division found the exact same language allowed only for modification from the date the motion was filed. See In re the Marriage of White, 240 P.3d 534 (Colo. App. 2010). Further, neither division could agree if the modification was only applicable to the original obligor or if the modification may be applied to the obligee. You may asking yourself, “what does this matter anyway as long as the child support payment changes?” These are good questions and the answers are even trickier!

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September 12, 2012

“Yes, you too must pay your child support Mr. NFL Superstar”

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

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You may remember Travis Henry: running back drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2001, spent two years with the Tennessee Titans, and then a modest year with the Denver Broncos in 2007, the last year Travis Henry was on the field after pleading guilty to a cocaine charge.

What about Jamal Lewis? Lewis had a magnificent career with the Baltimore Ravens before finishing his career with the Cleveland Browns. After becoming the second rookie in history to run for more than 100 yards in a Superbowl (2001), Lewis retired from the game in 2009.

And then there’s Terrell Owens…who can forget him? The talented, flamboyant, media hound recently found a new home with the Seattle Seahawks after several successful stints with other teams.


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January 24, 2012

BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

By Laura A. Good
Senior Paralegal
The Gasper Law Group

A divorce is hard enough on the parents, but doesn’t have to be on your kids. Telling your children that Mommy and Daddy are getting divorced will probably be one of the most difficult talks you will ever have with your children. Most importantly, parents must prepare themselves in advance when talking to their children. Be aware of the words you use and of the impact your words will have on them. Depending on their age, the “scars of divorce” could carry with them the rest of their lives.

There are many common mistakes parents make during this difficult time. Here are just a few:

1. Sharing information only meant for adults or telling the children the “reason” for the breakup. Many times parents want to “win” over the children by telling them their side of the story. Only adults should be privy to hear this type of information. Telling your children that Mommy or Daddy had an affair and has now chosen someone else could be devastating to the children and how they view their parents. Telling your children the “dirty” details and information only creates undue stress on your children. Keep it simple, give them reassurance, and leave out the details.

2. Making the children choose. Often times the children are asked or pressured to choose between Mommy and Daddy. Don’t put them in this position. Reassure them you both love them and although you are no longer going to live together, you are still a family and that you love them very much.

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June 29, 2011

Who Gets Custody of the Tax Return?

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The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

What happens to your income taxes both during and after a divorce is a common point of confusion. This article is not intended to provide you with specific tax advice; we are lawyers, not accountants. The purpose of this article is to describe how income taxes are treated by the family courts so that you may then arm yourself with that information when you have your taxes prepared or prepare them yourself.

It’s my money and I need it now!

A tax refund from any year you were married is considered to be a marital asset subject to division by the courts. Frequently this time of year, we see one party or the other file Married Separate and spend what they consider to be “their” refund. This is a potentially very risky move on your part. It is quite common for courts to require the parties to file an amended return in order to result in a larger refund. The party who files on their own risks having to repay funds to the marriage that have long since been spent and possibly to pay the costs associated with amending a return or other penalties.

As a general rule, it is rarely a good idea to act unilaterally when it comes to a joint marital asset. If you feel you have specific circumstances, such as a spouse who is delinquent in their taxes, bring the matter to your attorney’s attention for further advice.

The kids live with me, why does my ex get to claim them?

Colorado courts divide the dependency exemptions based upon financial support, not based on where the children primarily reside. So long as a party is paying child support, they are providing financial support and are therefore entitled to their share of the dependency exemptions. What exactly a parent’s “share” of the exemptions equals is a question for the court to determine.

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December 6, 2010

The “Happy Holidays” of Family Law

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

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The turkey is in the oven; the Christmas lights are about to be hung. The inflatable snowman is set up in the yard, and the cookies, well, you get the idea, it's "Family Law". Black Friday is less than two weeks away and may take on a different meaning for children of broken homes.

This is the worst time of year for a paralegal. It may be the worst time of the year for parents that have Temporary Orders in January and no relief in sight for Holiday parenting time disputes.

First and foremost, a refusal by the other parent to allow you parenting time with your children does not necessarily mean your attorney can file an emergency motion with the court. Statutes allow for the court to order you to pay attorneys fees for the other party if your motion is groundless or frivolous. Unfortunately, in these situations one of the parents has to bend. As much as you may not like it you may be the one who needs to give up some holiday time in order to keep the peace. Consider offering to split time evenly or offer Christmas to your spouse/other parent and offer to take Christmas Eve. It is only a temporary plan and chances are the court will order you to get the holidays the next year since you took the higher ground and gave up the time for the current year.

Also, the worst thing you can do is not allow the children to take presents with them to the other spouses/parent’s home. It is a special day for the children and should be about the children. It puts the children in the middle when you tell them they can’t take their new toy to the other parent’s home.

October 2, 2010

We're Divorcing - Who Gets The Holidays?

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

When considering a parenting plan either to propose to the court as part of a contested hearing or when putting together a stipulated parenting plan, everyone must tackle the sticky issue of holiday parenting time. Most parties agree to “alternating holidays,” but the details of what that means are often much more complex. The following are a list of points to consider when making up a holiday parenting time schedule:

• Start by pulling a copy of the school calendar, even if your children aren’t quite school aged yet. A good parenting plan should last you several years and should account for school attendance. Many school districts are opting for more frequent short breaks rather than what you may have grown up with.

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December 26, 2009

Divorce - The "Psychological Parent"

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC
Domestic Relations Division

Here is the scenario: Kate is a single mother of two children ages 2 and 4. The biological father left just after the second child was born and has never been a part of the children’s lives. Kate meets Brian. Brian, being an upstanding guy who has no problems dating a woman with two children, soon marries and moves in with Kate. For two years the couple functions as a family. Kate stays home with the kids and Brian goes to work to financially support the family. Brian comes home at night and helps the children with homework, the family eats dinner together, and the bedtime routine exists of story time and saying prayers. The family attends church on Sundays. Then all of the sudden things go bad and Kate decides to split with the kids. Brian is emotionally attached to the children and wants parenting time. He also believes the kids want to spend time with him. Kate’s response is that Brian is not a biological parent and therefore has no rights with respect to the children. As it turns out, however, Kate is wrong.

In Colorado courts recognize the right of a non-biological parent under the “psychological parent” doctrine. A psychological parent is a person other than a biological parent that has a psychological attachment with a child. Typically the party asserting psychological parenting rights has been a major part of the child’s day-to-day life and making decisions for the child as a biological parent would. The courts recognize that a psychological parent’s bond with a child can often be as strong as the bond between a biological parent and the child. If a court determines a psychological bond exists, the court may award parenting time and parenting rights to the psychological parent. Brian has a good case to assert his rights as a biological parent.

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July 30, 2009

Divorce and the Kids - Co-Parenting

By Teresa A. Drexler
Attorney at Law
The Gasper Law Group

Separation and divorce is complicated when children are involved. Emotions run high and often the parties are angry and bitter with one another. It is often difficult to separate frustration with a spouse as a result of divorce and the exhaustion from suddenly becoming a one parent household. Attorney’s can help you get through the legal process resulting in a final divorce. If children are involved, an attorney can aid in preparing appropriate parenting plans and agreements that address issues with the children. However, once parenting plans and schedules are in place and the divorce is final, both parents still have to raise the children. If the children are very young, both parents must continue to deal with one another as it pertains to the children for many years. In many cases parents can resolve issues amicably and cooperatively. Other times the situation is hostile and becomes increasingly hostile as parties grow more impatient with one another. The importance of co-parenting during this time is significant.

Co-parenting involves sharing responsibilities and decision-making with the other parent while maintaining separate households. Co-parenting is successful only if both parents are willing to work at it. If both parents cooperate and help to instill a successful co-parenting environment, it is not only beneficial for the parents but ultimately it is the best situation for the children. Divorce is stressful on children but this stress can be alleviated when parents work together for the benefit of the children.

Children have a great need to feel loved and supported by both parents. When both parents have a healthy co-parenting relationship, the children receive the stability and security they need amidst a stressful divorce. Children can learn valuable life skills from watching parents successfully co-parent. Through positive behavior and example, parents can teach their children accountability, problem solving skills and how to cooperate with others. Parents have a tremendous opportunity to set a great example for their children when they successfully co-parent.

Successful co-parenting begins with a solid parenting plan. Parenting schedules, including pick up and drop off times, must be specific. Parenting plans should address everything from education, medical issues, holiday schedules, finances and decision making guidelines. Flexibility, however, is also key. Parents should be flexible with one another. Life is uncertain and unexpected events are bound to come up. If you are flexible when the other parent needs a change in the parenting plan, chances are the favor is returned. If you choose to be difficult with the other parent it is likely you will receive no favors.

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