Divorce Win: Student Loans, Deployment, Alimony & More

Supreme Court of the United States

After weeks of negotiations between counsel, the spouses were at least able to agree on parenting – mostly. But they agreed on little else, so had a lengthy contested final orders hearing, with managing partner Carl Graham representing the wife. And our happy client prevailed on every single issue in contention!

Payment of Maintenance

The parties were married for a substantial length of time, and Husband out-earned Wife significantly. However, he did not want to pay alimony, not for any valid reason, he just did not want to do it. That was not very persuasive to the judge, who awarded our client the full maintenance she was requesting, which was an amount consistent with Colorado’s advisory maintenance guidelines.

An interesting twist arose during the hearing when Husband, who was a senior military officer, claimed he would lose almost a thousand dollars in BAH after divorce, going from the with-dependents to the without-dependents rate. As this issue was not raised in advance in the “Trial Management Certificate”, Carl had to scramble mid-hearing to prove Husband’s assertion was incorrect.

Fortunately, Carl, who has taught classes on this very issue, and wrote the Military Divorce Guide article Understanding Military Pay and the LES in a Divorce, was up to the task. He first pulled up the applicable federal regulation on his mobile phone, and the judge, after reviewing the tiny screen, took “judicial notice” of the law which provided that a military member paying court-ordered support in excess of the BAH-Diff amount was entitled to receive BAH-Diff. Then, he pulled up the BAH online calculator and military pay chart to show that in the end, Husband’s income would only decrease by a paltry $37/mo after dissolution.

The judge was convinced, and used Husband’s current income to determine maintenance and child support.

Student Loans

During the marriage, Husband had started working on an advanced degree, which he had not yet attained. And he incurred tens of thousands in student loans, for which he now wanted to receive a credit on the marital spreadsheet.

Strictly speaking, student loans incurred during the marriage are marital debts, and here the court treated them as such. However, domestic relations judges still have discretion to allocate such debts equitably, not equally, and Carl argued language from the Colorado Court of Appeals in Morton,1In re: Marriage of Morton, 2016 COA 1. where the court said:

“The determination that a student loan is marital debt, however, does not foreclose a trial court from allocating responsibility for payment of the loan entirely to the party who incurred it… A court does not abuse its discretion in finding that a student loan should be solely the incurring party’s responsibility because the party’s degree was earned later in the marriage and will primarily benefit that party.”

Morton.2In re: Marriage of Morton, 2016 COA 1, ¶ 9.

In the end, Carl successfully persuaded the court to allocate the student loan debt entirely to Husband without offset against other assets, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that Husband earned more than Wife, and whenever he finally obtains the degree (after divorce), he would solely benefit from it for years to come, rather than Wife sharing the benefits.


Our client, who was also in the military, lived in another state with the child. Father asked the court to order that the child should live with him should Mother deploy in the future.

We successfully persuaded the judge that there were too many unknown factors, and it would be inappropriate to speculate now on what may be in the best interests of the child in the future. Finally, Carl cited the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody & Visitation Act, another topic our firm knows well, and the judge accepted that upon future deployment, she would follow the procedures set forth in that statute.


There were several other issues in contention, each of which went in our client’s favor. Please note, however, that past results do not necessarily guarantee future performance. Graham.Law’s attorneys are experienced litigators, and while most of our clients are happy, on each of these issues, different judges with different fact patterns could go the other way.

Finally, there are always unique facts in a case which affect the outcome. But even though the hearing is a public record, in the interests of discretion we are disclosing only the broadest, abstract facts about the case which arose in open court. Graham.Law will never disclose the identity of our client, any confidential communications with our client, nor any of the more unique evidence from trial which may be either personal or help identify the parties.

Award-Winning Family Law Attorney In Colorado Springs

U.S. News & World Report calls Graham.Law one of the Best Law Firms in America, and our managing partner is a Colorado Super Lawyer. Our family law attorneys have years of experience helping clients navigate the Colorado legal system. We know Colorado divorce & family law inside and out, from complex multi-million dollar property or child custody cases to basic child support modifications.

For more information about our top-rated El Paso County family law firm, contact us by filling out the form on the right or calling us at (719) 630-1123 to set up a free consult, or click on:

Colorado Family Law. Period.


  • Excellent discussion; fully answered all my questions with examples I could clearly understand

    Jane Rohr Avatar
    Jane Rohr
  • Carl Graham is by far the best divorce attorney I have used and would highly recommend him to anyone who is looking for an ethical, knowledgable, fair attorney. My case was not your normal circumstanc... read more

    Gary Oldguy Avatar
    Gary Oldguy
  • As a former military spouse trying to collect my share of my ex's military retirement from California when the divorce decree and all the supporting documents were filed in Colorado i was apprehensive... read more

    Janine Pandher Avatar
    Janine Pandher
  • Where do I begin? Well AFTER have a consultation with another attorney ( who made me feel as though i was undeserving of his expertise) I was extremely apprehensive when coming to Graham Law. This was... read more

    Chris Whitfield Avatar
    Chris Whitfield
  • Mr. Carl Graham, Cindi (his paralegal), and the rest of his office staff helped us with a military divorce. Mr. Graham is very knowledgeable about military ways and processes. I appreciated the fact... read more

    Shelle Dier Avatar
    Shelle Dier
  • If you are searching for a divorce lawyer, first I would like to say I’m sorry you are going through this. It isn’t and easy road. I know sometimes things just don’t work out to save your marriage. Ho... read more

    Trevor Lisby Avatar
    Trevor Lisby
  • If you are searching for a divorce lawyer, first I would like to say I’m sorry you are going through this. It isn’t and easy road. I know sometimes things just don’t work out to save your marriage. Ho... read more

    Trevor Lisby Avatar
    Trevor Lisby
  • I called Graham law firm to schedule a consultation and spoke with Corinna. When beginning your search for information with any family matters there are many questions and a sense of anxiety of the u... read more

    Kathlena Williams Avatar
    Kathlena Williams
  • I was divorced in CO but moved to TX & had issues with my divorce decree from a previous attorney- after referrals from several other firms in CO regarding the best military law firm I went with Graha... read more

    Sarah DeLorean Avatar
    Sarah DeLorean
  • Very helpful initial meeting.

    Steven Babbitt Avatar
    Steven Babbitt
  • Carl and his team are awesome and super easy to work with. His knowledge is tremendous and he quickly handled my case despite me being across the country. I would do business with his team again and... read more

    Michael Brooks Avatar
    Michael Brooks
  • I was impressed by Graham Law in general but most impressed with Brian Boney. Brian is an excellent family law attorney. Attentive, detail-oriented, and hard-working, Brian surpassed my expectations f... read more

    Robert Weeks Avatar
    Robert Weeks
  • Mr. Grahm was professional, knowledgable and very prepared. He was also kind and understanding. He knew his military in's and outs. Because of this is got exactly what I was asking for... a swift a... read more

    MAMCO STAFF Avatar
  • I had the unpleasant task of taking my ex back to court. Carl was the person for the job. His attention to detail and professionalism got me the result I needed. Sincere thanks to Carl and his great s... read more

    Lisa Bruinsma Avatar
    Lisa Bruinsma
  • This firm is quite wonderful....very family and military oriented. Compassionate and patient, very understanding and will go to bat for you!!!!! Give them a call!!!!!

    Teresa Wilkie Avatar
    Teresa Wilkie
  • Brian did an amazing job helping me with a personal matter! Its not the first time I ask Brian for help, and every time he exceeds my expectations! Thank you for your kindness, understanding and suppo... read more

    Iryna Volynets Avatar
    Iryna Volynets
  • Divorce is never easy, but Carl and his warm team helped me navigate this very difficult time. This was a military divorce, so Carl's expertise helped me understand exactly what my options were as a f... read more

    Kara Longmire Avatar
    Kara Longmire
  • I have had two occasions that I have needed Carl Graham's assistance with child support issues and both times Mr. Graham and his team were amazing. Mr. Graham is straight forward and honest. I highly ... read more

    Jason Ragland Avatar
    Jason Ragland
  • Can't thank the team enough.

    Kevin Czarnecki Avatar
    Kevin Czarnecki
  • Very professional and extremely supportive throughout my needs.

    Doyle McNeil Avatar
    Doyle McNeil