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.
Gone are the days when a Colorado court would award custody of the children to the mother automatically. Today’s courts will look at a number of factors, including the home environments of each parent, whether the children are exposed to drug or alcohol abuse, suitable child care arrangements and the quality of living arrangements and educational opportunities. A Colorado Springs Family Lawyer will be able to examine your current home situation and help you construct a strong case that will be approved by the courts.
In general, when it comes to a final decision on custody, Colorado courts will put both parents on equal fitting and ask them to convince the court as to where the children should live. However, once a child reaches the age of 12, the court will also give them a say in where they want to live.
If you are trying to convince a court that your current custody arrangement isn’t working, then you will need to present some very strong evidence to prove this. Most Colorado courts are very reluctant to uproot children from their familiar surroundings without a convincing argument showing that the change is in the children’s best interests. Any decision that is made will place a high priority on stability and continuity.
Situations which the court may approve a change in custody include when the child is having serious issues with a step-parent, or has become combative with their custodial parent. In cases where the child’s academic progress is suffering for a long period of time, or he or she is depressed in the current home environment, the courts may consider a change.
If you need some advice on how to move forward with the court process for determining custody, a Colorado Springs Family Lawyer can help you immensely.