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Child Support and Joint Custody in Colorado

Tuesday, 08 May 2012

child_supportsContemplating divorce can be very difficult, especially when children are present.  Child support is probably the most contentious issue in a divorce, and it often causes a non-custodial parent to seek shared custody.  In the state of Colorado the amount of child support you pay or receive in a divorce situation will depend on your parenting time, or custody arrangement.

Colorado family law attorneys use a state-wide calculator to determine the amount of support a non-custodial parent will pay.  This calculation is designed to compensate the custodial parent for the cost of food, shelter, transportation, healthcare, child care and clothing.  Other expenses, such as health insurance coverage, may be added to the child support amount based on which parent pays that expense.

What happens to child support when parents share custody?

In Colorado, parenting arrangements are determined by the number of overnight visits a child spends with a parent per year.  The amount of child support paid by the non-custodial parent will change when the non-majority time parent has the children overnight for 93 nights or more, as this is considered shared custody.  However, if the non-majority time parent has the children overnight for less than 93 nights, he or she will use the same support guidelines as all other non-custodial parents.

Because shared custody arrangements require a different worksheet for child support, it reduces the amount of support a non-custodial parent, sometimes as much as $500 per month for an average-sized family.  However, some parents have been known to seek a shared parenting schedule just to reduce the cost of child support. It can even be used as a way to punish an ex-spouse for the divorce or out of jealousy because of their close relationship with the children.  This does more harm to the child than anyone else, because the majority time parent still bears the primary responsibility for providing food, shelter and clothing on a daily basis.

Using Colorado’s Worksheet B to determine child support in a shared parenting plan means both parents are expected to contribute to the child’s expenses in proportion to their incomes.  In addition to paying the primary caregiver child support, the higher earning parent will be expected to pay a greater percentage of the cost of extracurricular activities, computers, cell phones and other out-of-pocket expenses.

If you’re concerned that you are not getting enough child support, or you believe your ex-spouse is seeking shared custody to reduce the cost of support, a Colorado Springs family law attorney can help.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

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