Calculating Child Support for Your Divorce
The equation for calculating child support was created by the Legislature to ensure that children raised in separate homes are provided for in a similar manner to children in intact homes. In theory, child support should be straight forward. The basic calculation takes both parent’s incomes, the number of children, the number of nights spent with each parent, and child-related expenses, including the children’s health insurance cost, childcare expenses, etc. and tells you whether either parent should pay a monthly amount to the other parent to provide for the basic needs of the child. The idea is to be sure that the child enjoys the same standard of living at both homes.
What About Other Expenses?
This is where things get a little bit tricky.
If that expense is for anything other than medical or required educational expenses, such as sports, music lessons, and extracurricular events, the parties may agree to a proportionate split of those expenses, or the court may enter such an order. Often these expenses are split in proportion to income. This means if Mom makes $6000 a month and Dad makes $4000 a month, Mom will be responsible for 60% of the cost and Dad will be responsible for 40%. Other times, parents divide these expenses equally.
Uninsured Medical Expenses
For uninsured medical expenses, the rules are a bit different. The statute says, after the first $250 is spent, then the parent incurring the medical expense may seek proportionate reimbursement from the other parent. After the first $250 is spent, the expense is paid by the parent who incurs the expense, they submit the bill to the other parent, and that parent pays their share within an agreed upon time period. The law doesn’t specify who pays the first $250, however.
So, who pays the first $250? The Colorado Court of Appeals just ruled that whomever takes the child to the doctor, or picks up the prescription, pays the bill, and the parties keep track until that first $250 is paid. In practice, this has gotten complicated. In many cases, one parent has the children for more weekdays, so they are the one who usually takes the child to the doctor, then picks up the prescriptions, and incurs the majority of the first $250 in medical costs. Sometimes, it is hard even for one parent to keep track of when they have reached $250 much less have two parents figure it out together. Who has time to sit down and write down every $5.00 for Flu medicine and $10.00 co-pays?
Reaching a Fair Agreement
Many attorneys recommend that the parties determine how this can work the best for them. Some parents might agree that one parent, usually the one receiving child support, will pay the first $250. For other parents, an agreement that all medical expenses, other than health insurance, which is already included in the child support calculation, will be split in proportion to income from the first dollar.
If the parties cannot agree on their own arrangement for medical costs not covered under insurance, the court will require them to follow the law exactly. In that case, make sure you remember your calculator!
Child Support Lawyers Serving Colorado
Do you have more questions about calculating child support? If so, get in touch with our lawyers at Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. to discuss your situation. Our compassionate legal team will review your case and provide you with the top-notch legal representation you deserve.