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Reviewing alimony and child support payments

State legislators in Colorado and across the nation are considering equal time or at least reducing the disparity between parents in child custody matters. Supporters of these laws feel that it's in the best interests of children to split their time with each parent unless addiction or domestic violence is an issue. However, opponents want judges to have leeway to set up custody that is best for the children.

House Bill 1058 affects couples in the state who filed for divorce beginning Jan. 1. The law regulates alimony payments so that judges will make more consistent rulings across the board. Prior spousal support payments were not calculated using a specific formula but were largely left to the discretion of each judge. Several years ago, a panel of judges reviewed the same hypothetical case and reached a wide range of results. The new bill should level the playing field so that a judge would hopefully grant the same amount to people who are in similar situations.

The formula considers income, assets, the number of children and the length of the union. However, state law offers a guideline instead of a hard-and-fast rule for alimony. This gives judges some flexibility to deviate depending on individual circumstances in each case. Another consideration to keep in mind is that spousal support is taxable while child support is not. In addition, when alimony rises, child support drops.

Setting up payments for spousal support and child custody can be one of the most challenging aspects of ending a marriage. A family lawyer might be able to help clients who are trying to negotiate alimony or child custody payments.

Source: Denver Post, 'Colorado's divorce laws receiving an update," Kristen Kidd, Dec. 27, 2013

Source: USA Today, "Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome", Jonathan Ellis, January 27, 2014

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