With high unemployment rates across the country, many families are struggling to make ends meet. If you are entitled to child or spousal support, and your ex-spouse is not working, how does that affect your support order? As a Colorado Springs divorce lawyer, I advise my clients to ask these questions:
If you can answer “yes” to at least two of these questions, then a Colorado court has the power to uphold your support order based on your ex-spouse’s earning capacity. In many cases, the court will consider looking at their past earning history, education level and skills to calculate their ability to earn income. Even if your ex is collecting disability, unemployment benefits or workers’ compensation, a court may order that income to be used as a basis for paying support.
Family court judges often see support-obligated spouses try to hide income or intentionally drag their feet in finding work, just to make it more difficult for their ex to collect support. When a pattern of repetitive unemployment exists, it is important to start showing these patterns to the court. If the court decides to base your spouse’s earning capacity on their prior income, you may be surprised to see how quickly they find a job.
At the very least, the court may order your ex-spouse to produce evidence of their job search efforts at the next hearing. Meanwhile, your support order will be based on what your spouse would be earning if he or she were working. And remember, your support order cannot be discharged due to bankruptcy.
If you have reason to believe that your spouse is intentionally trying to get out paying their Colorado court-ordered support, then Colorado Springs divorce lawyer can ask the court to base their decision on earning capacity.
Isn't Child Support Supposed to Cover Everything?
Anyone who is on the receiving end of child support knows how difficult it can be to calculate the actual expenses involved in raising a child. While the courts do their best to design a grid that is supposed to provide enough support to the custodial parent, in most cases, the custodial household bears more than its fair share of financial responsibility.
We’ve all heard of cases where a non-custodial parent moves out of state to escape a child support obligation but, thankfully, statutes are in place to make it very difficult for a parent to run away from a support order. However, in order to enforce a child support order in another state, the court must establish the proper authority for them to act.
Possibly one of the most contentious issues in a divorce action is the enforcement of child support. In Colorado, like all other states, enforcement of court-ordered child support is managed on a county level. While some states disburse payments to custodial parents through a state-run Collection and Disbursement Unit, the enforcement of the order usually takes place in the county where the defendant resides.
Compared to unemployment rates in other states, Colorado is not doing so badly. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks Colorado as 24th out of 50 states, with a current unemployment rate of 7.6% (May 2009), compared to a national unemployment rate of 9.4%.
This news may not help you much if you are a single parent who recently lost your job. Unemployment insurance is rarely enough to pay the bills, and this is especially true for single parents. If you feel your employment situation qualifies you for a modification of an existing Colorado child support order, it may make sense to consult with an experienced Colorado Child Support Attorney.