Calculation of Gross Income for Child Support

I previously wrote here about the dissolution of marriage case between S.L.S. (Wife) and T.J.D. (Husband) and Wife’s appeal of the district court judge’s spousal maintenance and child support awards. In that case, the Colorado Court of Appeals held that the district court judge had incorrectly considered unrealized investment gains in a TD Ameritrade account awarded to Wife as part of the divorce case’s property division to be “gross income” for the calculation of maintenance and child support. The court of appeals also concluded that the district court incorrectly calculated Husband’s income as well.

At the permanent orders hearing in the district court, Husband–who received all of the rental properties in the divorce–presented evidence of each rental property’s rental rate and associated depreciation. Husband asked the district court judge to “include all depreciation for each property when determining his net monthly rental income,” while Wife argued that “the court should not consider any depreciation.” The district court judge found that “the depreciation in excess of the income [H]usband earned on the rentals would not be included in his income calculation but that all other depreciation would be allowed.”

The Colorado Court of Appeals disagreed. Colorado’s spousal maintenance and child support statutes identify income from rents as “income” for purposes of calculating maintenance and child support. According to these statutes, “‘gross income’ equals gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses…required to produce such income.” C.R.S. § 14-10-114(8)(c)(III)(A) (spousal maintenance); C.R.S. § 14-10-115(5)(a)(III)(A) (child support). But the Colorado spousal maintenance and child support statutes both specifically exclude from ordinary and necessary expenses the “amounts allowable by the internal revenue service for the accelerated component of depreciation expenses…or any other expenses determined by the court to be inappropriate for determining gross income for purposes of calculating” maintenance and child support. C.R.S. § 14-10-114(8)(c)(III)(B) (spousal maintenance); C.R.S. § 14-10-115(5)(a)(III)(B) (child support) (emphasis added). Furthermore, ordinary and necessary expenses “do not include deductions for expenses in excess of income produced.” In re Marriage of Schaefer, 2022 COA 112, ¶ 28 (citing In re Marriage of Eaton, 894 P.2d 56, 60 (Colo. App. 1995)).

Continue Reading The Importance of Distinguishing Between Depreciation and Accelerated Depreciation When Calculating Rental Income for Spousal Maintenance and Child Support in Colorado

S.L.S. (Wife) and T.J.D. (Husband) were married for 15 years. During their marriage, Wife and Husband agreed that Wife would stay home and care for their four children while several businesses that Husband owned would be the primary source of the family’s income. The financial success of Husband’s businesses allowed Husband and Wife to open and deposit marital funds into a TD Ameritrade investment account that grew to become a substantial asset of the parties’ marriage.

Husband and Wife also owned several properties that were used as rentals and produced rental income for their family. While Wife sometimes helped with Husband’s businesses, she last worked outside the home in 2007. She later enrolled in an online program to earn a master’s degree in library science.

The Divorce Case and Entry of Permanent Orders

The parties decided to end their marriage, and a dissolution of marriage (divorce) action was filed in a Colorado district court. Because Wife and Husband were unable to settle all of the disputed issues in their case, they participated in a permanent orders hearing (trial) before a district court judge who entered the following permanent orders:

  • Husband would receive $6,703,173.22 of the marital estate, including their real estate and all of the rental properties;
  • Wife would receive assets worth $2,782,365.80, which included the assets held in their TD Ameritrade investment account; and
  • Wife would receive a payment of $1,960,403.71 from Husband to “equalize this uneven division.”

To determine how much Husband should pay Wife in spousal maintenance and child support, the district court judge calculated Husband’s monthly income at $57,662 and Wife’s monthly income at $19,666 ($16,666 of which the district court considered as “unrealized monthly gains from the parties’ investment account”). The court then ordered Husband to pay Wife maintenance in the amount of $5,000 per month for 48 months while Wife finished her graduate school program. The court also ordered Husband to pay Wife $132 per month in child support.

Continue Reading Unrealized Capital Gains In An Investment Account Are Not Income For Maintenance and Child Support Purposes in Colorado