Avoid Conflict and Protect Your Children
The issue of child support is a common concern for many parents going through a separation, and the complexity of child support orders can lead to even more stress and confusion. Whether you’re being asked to pay child support, seeking it, or hoping to modify an existing order, you can turn to our team at Littman Family Law when you need a Denver child support attorney to guide you through the process.
We understand how difficult a separation where children are involved can be even before child support comes into the picture. We’ll do everything we can to make things as hassle-free for you as possible. Let our professional team mediate your child support agreement. Call us today at 303-832-4200.
How is Child Support Awarded in Colorado?
Colorado state law dictates that the court must award child support in an amount that is fair to both parents to ensure an adequate standard of living for the child(ren). A variety of factors go into determining which parent receives support, including the:
- Number of financial resources available to the parents separately
- Number of financial resources that each parent needs to create equitable environments in their separate locations
- Prior standard of living of the child(ren)
- Custody arrangements
- Financial resources necessary to address the child(ren)s individual needs
These factors will help the court determine which parent requires support to care for the child(ren) at the same standard as before the separation. In many cases, the non-custodial parent will be responsible for child support payments.
However, in cases where one parent has significantly higher earnings, it is possible for the custodial parent to pay support payments to the non-custodial parent to ensure equal accommodations for the child(ren).
Child Support Payment Determination
It’s vital to disclose all your income, expenses, and assets before the child support order is finalized.
The monthly monetary determination for the child support order will typically depend primarily on two factors:
○ Wages, including those from self-employment
○ Royalties and interest
○ Trust funds
- The number of overnight stays the child(ren) spend/s with you
As additional factors may apply and child support calculation is a complex process, it’s often helpful to consult with an experienced Denver child support attorney to better understand how personal factors may impact your child support order. If you have an existing order, an experienced attorney can also help you request a modification to that order if your financial or custodial situation changes.
What Does Child Support Cover?
Child support orders are intended to help balance the costs associated with caring for the child(ren) between parents to ensure they continue providing equitable support after separation. They often include costs associated with:
- Housing (rent or mortgage)
- Daycare for the child(ren) of working parents
- Clothing and hygiene items
- Public school education expenses (lunch and supplies)
- Regular transportation
- Health insurance
- Extraordinary medical expenses (orthodontic services, vision care, surgery, etc.)
There are also certain expenses that the court might not include in a basic child support agreement. Some expenses may be considered extraordinary or beyond basic needs. These extraordinary expenses can require additional mediation to clarify the child support obligation
and may include, but might not be limited to:
- Field trip costs
- School uniforms or sports equipment costs
- Summer camp fees
- Extracurricular club and organization expenses
- Private school tuition expenses
In cases, the court will calculate extraordinary costs and consider adding the amount to the child support obligation. The court may also choose to divide the extraordinary cost amongst the parents in proportion to the parent’s incomes. Each case is unique.
Can Child Support Be Modified Due to Misuse?
Parents typically aren’t required to track or show proof of what they use child support payments for, and allegations of child support misuse rarely stand up in court. For instance, you can’t request an order adjustment simply because you don’t like the way the funds are being spent.
However, if the case were severe, for example, the children were being denied basic care (food/shelter) while child support funds were used for other non-essentials, such as luxury vehicles or vacations, evidence of that misuse could factor into custody determination and affect the child support order.
The misuse of child support funds is another topic where the specifics of the case have a significant impact on the likelihood of success. It’s best to consult with a Denver child support attorney for individualized guidance.
What Qualifies as a Reason to Request a Child Support Order Modification?
The courts understand that circumstances in life can change. The court will consider a child support modification if those changes significantly impact one parent’s ability to pay. Generally, the income of the payor must have changed by at least 10% or more—up or down. Either parent can apply for a child support modification.
Both parents and the court must agree to any modification requests. Examples of the major changes that may qualify for a modification to child support include:
- Legitimate loss of a paying job or wages
- Increase in income
- Terminal illness of the parent paying child support
- Significant changes in medical costs for the child
- Changes in majority parenting time between the parents
Note that both parents also have a responsibility to report any change in their circumstances that may impact the child support order. While this more commonly applies to changes in income for the payor, it may also apply to living arrangements for the child(ren). By reporting financial changes in a timely manner, parents can avoid potentially serious legal consequences.
How Are Child Support Orders Enforced in Denver?
Failure to pay child support can put an undue financial strain on the parent receiving child support. Additionally, failure to pay can negatively impact the standard of living for the child(ren). A court order to pay child support can be enforced through a number of legal measures.
Legal measures to enforce child support are meant to encourage full payments on a timely basis to fulfill the basic needs of the child. Measures outlined under state law as potential consequences of non-payment of child support ordered by a court might include:
- Garnishing wages from employment income
- Garnishing federal and state tax return payments
- Applying liens against personal properties, vehicles, and real estate
- Reporting non-payment to credit bureaus
- Denying passport for travel
- Suspending driver’s licenses
- Suspending professional and occupational licenses
In addition to these measures, official charges of contempt can be made against non-paying parents. Non-payment of a child support order can even lead to jail time.
If you find yourself unable to pay a child support order, do not stop paying completely. Any payments made will help establish good faith with the court and may aid in any attempts to request a support modification.
What is Imputed Income in Child Support, and How Can It Affect the Amount of Child Support Due?
The court recognizes that some parents with a child support obligation may intentionally quit or change jobs to influence the amount of child support due. The court can order “imputed income” to be considered when the court discovers that a parent is manipulating their income to decreased their child support payment.
In these cases of deliberate wage reductions, the court can take earning potential into consideration rather than the actual income to determine the amount of child support due. If approved by the court, the imputed income rate will be enforced by all applicable laws.
Consult With a Knowledgeable Denver Child Support Attorney
At Littman Family Law, our experienced attorneys can assist with all aspects of family law, including, among other services:
- Resolving cases outside of court by using cooperative law techniques and mediation to encourage joint problem solving between separated parents
- Calculating and obtaining child support on the parent’s behalf
- Drafting/reviewing legal documents associated with your child support agreement
- Consulting on legal issues pertaining to child support, divorce, and other family law aspects
- Acting as a parenting coordinator to facilitate communication and provide advice
- Acting as court-appointed decision-makers to interpret parenting plans and file binding decisions with the court
- Coordinating early neutral assessments with attorneys and mental health professionals to develop a focused parenting plan
Whether you are pursuing child support, are being served child support papers, or are having trouble with a current order, you can count on our caring professionals at Littman Family Law and Mediation Services for reliable guidance.
In many cases, we’re even able to negotiate child support agreements outside of court. Learn more about the child support options available to you today—reach out to our office at 303-832-4200 to discuss your child support obligations with an experienced Denver child support attorney. You can also contact us by email to schedule an initial consultation.