Financial Issues

Your financial future is important. When going through a dissolution, that future can be at risk. The Law Offices of Brenda L. Storey, P.C., can guide and support you to make well-informed decisions to best be able to provide for your lifestyle and protect your economic security.

Property and Debt Division

Whether a divorce or civil union dissolution, you have rights, and obligations. Under Colorado property law, your rights include being entitled to an equitable division of the marital/union’s estate. Title alone, is not determinative. Who bought what is not the final answer. Rather, the specific facts and circumstances of your estate, the acquisition of its different components, and the contributions of each spouse/partner to the union as a homemaker, breadwinner, saver or spender are all relevant. Guidance is needed by a skilled advocate to develop your argument through pertinent facts and persuasion. The Law Offices of Brenda L. Storey, P.C. offers this guidance, in the form of expertise and years of experience.

The first step of equitable division is identification and valuation of the estate assets. Compensation packages have become more and more complex, with stock options, restricted stock units, qualified and non-qualified plans, delayed payment structures, and signing bonuses and severance packages. Family assets can likewise be challenging, with irrevocable remainder interests, family trusts, inheritance, family businesses, and gifting, Our firm has years of experience with these kinds of issues, and stays on top of the trends. We understand the different valuation methods, and arguments for and against each. We assist you in understanding the various options to allow you to make well-informed decisions about your financial picture now, as well as in the years following the dissolution. We use well-respected forensic experts to give an honest opinion as to value, and to guide you in understanding the pros and cons of different property divisions and the pitfalls and tax implications presented by certain ones.

Another challenge to property division is how to divide debt responsibility between the parties. After the recent difficult financial times, many families have a house that is underwater, and credit card debt that is on the brink of being unmanageable. These cases often end up in court, not because the parties can afford it, but because that can’t afford to agree to assume so much debt. This is where quality representation makes a difference. Creative problem solving can provide the best solutions. Asset/debt combinations can be explored.

Once the estate’s assets and debts have been identified and valued, they still need to be equitably divided. Colorado is not an equal division state, but looks to the specifics of your case and makes an equitable division. This is where keen strategizing, negotiating, and arguing are crucial. Our firm excels in developing persuasive arguments to compliment your specific facts, all in an effort to convince the court to adopt the division you believe is most fair.

Maintenance/Spousal Support

After the court has equitably divided the estate, next it is to turn to the issue of whether either spouse or partner should be awarded maintenance, also known as alimony or spousal support in Colorado. This can be the most emotional of all the financial issues, as some spouses resent that they may be forced to provide support past the end of the relationship. Yet, an attorney well versed in this area can use this issue as a tool in the overall financial planning, given importance placed on this by the recipient spouse, and the tax benefits to the payor.

There is no final magical formula that dictates what, if any, maintenance will be awarded or for how long. There are some statutory guidelines, and a learned, skilled attorney can develop the arguments of the case to give the strongest arguments for, or against, application of those guidelines. This is where quality representation really matters. The first step in the two-fold process of the maintenance consideration is whether the spouse seeking maintenance is able to support him or herself. This is, however, reviewed within the context of the standard of living enjoyed during the intact union. If need for maintenance is found, then the issue becomes amount and duration. A maintenance award by a court is always modifiable. If settlement is reached, one consideration is whether to have the maintenance be contractual and non-modifiable.

Child Support

Parents owe a duty of support to their children. Case law reflects that this cannot be waived, and is the child’s right. There are presumptive guidelines as to how much basic child support is needed to support children whose parents make certain combined incomes. Deviations can be argued, but are very fact specific.

In addition to basic child support, the court can order health insurance to be maintained by one parent, and medical expenses of the children not covered by insurance to be split between the parties. Similarly, payment responsibility for work-related child care and agreed upon extracurricular activities can be apportioned.

Determining income for child support can be the challenge, as certain business deductions are allowed while in-kind payments by employers are to be included. Sometimes overtime must count, sometimes it is not to count, and then arguments can be made to use it to deviate from the guidelines. Incomes that exceed the upper-cap of the guidelines open up new arguments. In those cases, it is the needs of the children that are controlling and need to be developed and presented to the court in a convincing way to obtain the award needed to continue the standard to which the children have been accustomed. Or firm has outstanding skill and experience with these kinds of cases, and our quality representation can make the difference.

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