In Colorado, child support is calculated based on the parties combined income and the legislature’s determination of what income would be if the parties were together. This calculation is done using a guideline worksheet. The guideline apportions that liability based on how many nights the child spends with each parent, as well as expenses each party may pay for their child.
In determining income, the guideline also takes into account any maintenance paid or received by either parent, and other children supported by either parent. The worksheet also takes into account what each party pays as expenses for the children. The expenses that the Court considers are the costs of work or education related childcare, medical insurance, uninsured medical expenses, and other extraordinary expenses. The other extraordinary expenses can vary, but they may include transportation costs, and expenses in attending special or private schools. A sample guideline can be found on the Colorado Judicial Branch website.
For example, if Parent 1 and Parent 2 both earn $3000 per month, their joint income is $6000 and if they have two children the expected monthly support, according to C.R.S. 14-10-115, is $1404. If the parents have equal parenting time, the support will be equal. However, if Parent 1 has 75% of the time, Parent 2’s support will be higher. Or if Parent 1 earns $1,000 per month, and Parent 2 earns $5000 per month, although the monthly combined support is the same, Parent 2 will pay a higher percentage of the expenses than Parent 1, even if both parties have equal parenting time.
Conflict often arises when one party is unemployed. The Court can impute income to the unemployed party based on their skills, education, and past work experience.
People who are self-employed, or are paid on fluctuating systems such as commissions or bonuses may also present a difficulty for calculating child support. The Court may hear arguments regarding self-employed parties and whether they are correctly compensating themselves and whether the current market is going to fluctuate or harm the income flow.
Generally, child support continues for each child until his or her nineteenth birthday or the date of their high school graduation, whichever is later. If a child is disabled, support can continue further. If a child marries or enters active military duty, child support may end before the child reaches the age of nineteen.
Whether you are contemplating divorce, seeking an allocation of parental rights, or needing to modify support, the attorneys at Jorgensen, Brownell, and Pepin can assist you. Call us today!