The Intersection of Estate Planning & Divorce: An Introduction to Trust Issues in Divorce

Family Law Attorney Kama McConaughy Sarkissian presented a nationwide continuing legal education webinar in conjunction with Wealthcounsel, LLC titled: “The Intersection of Estate Planning and Divorce: An Introduction to Trust Issues in Divorce.”


The webinar focused on the process domestic relations courts frequently implement when making a determination as to what trust assets constitute a marital property interest subjection to division during a divorce. The course also explored issues associated with divorce and how a couple’s typical estate plan could be problematic in the event the spouses separate subsequent to finalizing their estate planning. The webinar discussed practical issues as well as the potential tax concerns associated with divorcing couples. The CLE concluded with ideas on how to protect trust and estate client’s beneficiary interests in the event they later divorced by implementing pre-marital and marital agreements containing provisos related to the client’s irrevocable trust interests. Call our family law attorneys today if you have questions about how your trust assets may be subject to division in a future divorce action.

What Constitutes Income for Child Support Purposes?

Parties to a dissolution of marriage action with children, or an allocation of parental responsibilities (custody case) will need to calculate a child support amount to be paid by the obligor consistent with Colorado’s statute: C.R.S.  § 14-10-115.

How is Child Support Calculated in Colorado?

One of the most common questions clients ask is: How will child support be calculated by the Court? Child support in Colorado is governed by statutory guidelines contained in C.R.S. 14-10-115. However, this statute is constantly being revised and adjusted for things like inflation and parties are well-advised to ensure they have the most current version of the statute. The child support guidelines in Colorado are presumptive, opposed to Colorado’s spousal maintenance guidelines, which are merely advisory. The child support guidelines calculate child support based upon the parents’ combined adjusted gross income estimated to have been allocated to the child if the parents and children were living in an intact household. Additionally, the child support guidelines adjust the child support based upon the needs of the children for extraordinary medical expenses and work-related child care costs, and allocate the amount of child support to be paid by each parent based upon physical care arrangements. The child support worksheets also consider the total number of overnights each parent has with the child(ren). The number of children involved also affects the child support obligation.


How to Determine the Parents’ Incomes for a Child Support Calculation.

Courts will use each parent’s “gross income” to calculate the child support amount. “Gross income,” as it is defined by the statute, and includes, but is not limited to:

  • Income from salaries;
  • Wages, including tips declared by the individual for purposes of reporting to the federal internal revenue service or tips imputed to bring the employee’s gross earnings to the minimum wage for the number of hours worked, whichever is greater;
  • Commissions;
  • Payments received as an independent contractor for labor or services, which payments must be considered income from self-employment;
  • Bonuses;
  • Dividends;
  • Severance pay;
  • Pensions and retirement benefits;
  • Royalties;
  • Rents;
  • Interest;
  • Trust income;
  • Annuities;
  • Capital gains;
  • Any moneys drawn by a self-employed individual for personal use that are deducted as a business expense, which moneys must be considered income from self-employment;
  • Social security benefits, including social security benefits actually received by a parent as a result of the disability of that parent or as the result of the death of the minor child’s stepparent but not including social security benefits received by a minor child or on behalf of a minor child as a result of the death or disability of a stepparent of the child;
  • Workers’ compensation benefits;
  • Unemployment insurance benefits;
  • Disability insurance benefits;
  • Funds held in or payable from any health, accident, disability, or casualty insurance to the extent that such insurance replaces wages or provides income in lieu of wages;
  • Monetary gifts;
  • Monetary prizes, excluding lottery winnings not required by the rules of the Colorado lottery commission to be paid only at the lottery office;
  • Income from general partnerships, limited partnerships, closely held corporations, or limited liability companies. However, if a parent is a passive investor, has a minority interest in the company, and does not have any managerial duties or input, then the income to be recognized may be limited to actual cash distributions received;
  • Expense reimbursements or in-kind payments received by a parent in the course of employment, self-employment, or operation of a business if they are significant and reduce personal living expenses;
  • Alimony or maintenance received; and

Overtime pay, only if the overtime is required by the employer as a condition of employment.

There are many forms of income, which are exceptions to the “gross income” definition under the statute. Parties to a divorce proceeding or APR action should meet with a licensed Colorado family law attorney to discuss the specifics of their case, and obtain legal advice in order to make an informed decision on this issue.

Economic Misconduct in Divorce

Upon invitation from Professor Jennifer Hendricks, family law attorney Kama McConaughy Sarkissian had the honor and privilege of lecturing at the University of Colorado’s School of Law.  Ms. McConaughy Sarkissian taught a family law class concerning the issue of economic misconduct in divorce. She was counsel for the leading appellate case in Colorado concerning marital waste: In re Marriage of Jorgensen, 143 P.3d 1169 (Colo. App. 2006) and is one of the preeminent authorities on the doctrine. Ms. McConaughy Sarkissian greatly enjoyed giving back to her alma mater and look forward to continuing our firm’s dedication to service and philanthropy.

McConaughy & Sarkissian, P.C. – Working from home

We at McConaughy & Sarkissian, P.C. remain open during these difficult times.  While most of us are working from home, we do have in-office staffing for answering the telephones, receiving and distributing mail and filings.   Our entire staff is available to answer questions or accept new matters involving construction, general liability, auto and family law.   

In general, for family law/divorce/child custody matters the courts have continued all non-emergency hearings but are available for temporary protection orders, permanent protection order hearings, emergency requests to restrict parenting time or prevent parental abduction of your child, request the appointment of an emergency guardian and/or special conservator, and temporary custody hearings in a dependency and neglect case. 

We are still able to commence new actions for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, allocation of parental responsibilities, as well as modifications of existing orders.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions or require our assistance in any family law matter.

Please contact us if you have questions or need our help. 

Telephone:  303-649-0999

Kama McConaughy Sarkissian’s Email: KMS@mslawpc.com

Andrea Koelzer’s Email: AKoelzer@mslawpc.com