Establishing child support in Colorado is a complex process always best done with the help of an experienced Denver child support attorney.
Colorado law requires the court to award child support in an amount fair to both parents, while ensuring an adequate standard of living for the child.
Factors the court may consider, include:
- Financial resources available to each parent.
- Financial resources of each parent to maintain separate residences.
- A child’s prior standard of living.
- The amount of time the child spends with each parent.
- Financial resources needed to properly care for the child.
Establishing Child Support in Colorado
A guideline worksheet is used to calculate child support, based on whether a parent has sole physical care (in cases where the other parent has 92 or fewer overnights) or shared physical care.
Food, clothing and shelter are obvious basic needs. Other child support considerations include daycare, health insurance, extraordinary medical expenses such as orthodontics and vision care, and the cost of extra curricular activities, including participation in school sports, summer camp and field trips. In some cases, primary and secondary school tuition, and even college expenses(if agreed to by the parties), may be an additional consideration.
A parent’s financial resources are considered, but the primary focus is on the needs of the child. Unfortunately, this can result in financial hardship for a paying parent, because parental expenses such as rent and car payments are not necessarily considered. This is particularly true if a parent does not work with an experienced child support attorney in Denver before court-ordered support is in place.
The cost for such items as clothing, insuring and operating the parent’s vehicle, utilities and the like are included in the Colorado Child Support Guideline amount when both parents’ incomes are considered. Gifts from either parent usually will not count toward court-ordered support. Likewise, payments made outside the court order may not count toward your child support obligation.
Child Support Enforcement Actions and Modifications
Creating a workable child support order is a critical part of any divorce or parental responsibilities agreement. Falling behind in child support can create a number of serious consequences, while seeking a modification of an existing support order can be much more difficult than reaching agreement on a workable support arrangement at the outset.
Failure to keep up with child-support obligations can result in serious consequences, including garnishment of wages, seizure of tax returns, adverse credit reporting, seizure or liens on bank accounts or personal property, including real estate and vehicles, suspension of your passport and/or driver’s license and even jail time.
While winning a child-support modification can be challenging, it is possible in some situations. A modification of child support per statute is based upon a substantial and continuing change in the circumstances of the parties and/or the child resulting in at least a 10% change in the amount of child support paid (either by increase or decrease). Generally the court will consider a modification if a parent’s ability to pay changes significantly, including legitimate job loss or increase in income, terminal illness, significant increases in child medical costs, or changes in parenting time. However, in cases where parents intentionally change or quit jobs, or otherwise reduce income in an attempt to avoid child-support obligations, the court can use “imputed income,” or income potential, to deny child-support modification.
Whatever your child-support situation, whether seeking an initial agreement, or dealing with non-payment or the consequences of falling behind, or for a parent who wants to modify child support, seeking immediate consultation with an experienced Denver child support attorney is always the best course of action.
Contact a Denver Family Law Attorney at Littman Family Law and Mediation Services at 303-832-4200 for a confidential consultation.