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Divorce 101: Calculating Colorado Child Support

Thursday, 20 March 2014

marrison.child support enforcementAs simple as it sounds, many divorcing parents simply don't understand child support. Some see it as a necessary evil while others see it as a way for spiteful custodial parents to "squeeze" their exes out money. Fortunately neither of these is true. The purpose of child support is to ensure that children of divorced parents are not deprived an acceptable standard of living. When determining which parent will pay support and how much, Colorado state law applies a model known as "income shares." Some of the primary deciding factors are each parent's monthly income and the amount of time the child spends with each parent.

Who is the recipient of child support?

Typically the parent who is awarded custody of the children is the parent who receives support, but the amount they receive is calculated in proportion to the income of the paying parent. Unlike some states, the Colorado formula takes into account many different factors, including whether the paying parent is responsible for any other children. It is still possible for either parent to present evidence or extenuating circumstances showing why it might be necessary to deviate from the standard formula.

How is child support calculated?

In calculating Colorado child support, the first three questions you can expect to answer are as follows: How many children? What is your gross income? Do you have a custody agreement in place? The more children you have to support the higher your child support payments will be. Child support also considers how much you can afford to pay, based on your gross monthly income. And finally, the court recognizes that child support payments will fluctuate depending on the custody agreement in place. The more days of the year that the child/children spend with one parent; the more support the other parent will have to pay.

What about extraordinary expenses?

The Colorado courts will also take into account the costs incurred for children with special medical needs. These additional expenses might include treatment for chronic health problems, physical therapy, special modes of transportation, etc. In most cases, the expense will only be considered "extraordinary" when it costs more than $250 per child per year and it is not covered by health insurance.

How does shared physical care impact child support?

In the event that you and your spouse decide to share custody – or the physical care – of your child, separate child support obligations will be computed for each parent. This is done by multiplying the total standard child support obligation by the percentage of time each child spends with the other parent. Once this is done, the parent who owes more support will be responsible for paying the difference between the two amounts to the other parent. This type of scenario is only applicable when each parent has physical custody of the child for more than 92 nights per year.

Can a Colorado child support order be modified?

This is one of the most common questions asked of Colorado Springs family lawyers, and the answer is "yes." If you experience a substantial "change of circumstances" that makes the current child support payment unsustainable, a petition for modification can be filed with the family court. Some common reasons that may qualify for a modification include a job loss, significant pay cut or the rising costs of a child's healthcare, education or insurance. Either the recipient or the paying parent may submit a petition for modification, but when support is at stake these hearings can become quite contentious. If you need to modify a Colorado child support order, it helps to have an experienced family law attorney on your side.

Photo courtesty of StockImages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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