Colorado law mandates that each parent owes a duty of financial support to their children. In order to determine what each parent’s financial duty is, the state legislature has created child support guidelines. These guidelines take into account each parent’s income, the number of overnights the child spends with each parent, as well as other factors such as child care costs and the number of other children that a party has financial responsibility for.
When this information is inputted, the child support guidelines provide a presumed amount of support that is owed from one party to the other in order to support the child. It is possible in certain situations to deviate from the published guidelines, however deviations are fact-specific and never guaranteed. Furthermore, the party receiving support on behalf of the child has no obligation to account for how the support monies are spent. The idea is that the parent receiving the support will use the support to meet the child’s needs, whether it be to keep a roof over the child’s head, food on the table, buying clothes or school supplies for the child, etc.
In addition to the basic amount of support, Colorado courts have the authority to order one parent to maintain health insurance for the child. Orders can also be entered regarding additional costs that are incurred on a child’s behalf, such as costs for extra-curricular activities and/or child care.
While the child support guidelines offer some predictability regarding the amount of support that will be owed, it is important to understand that child support is not black and white, and there is room for argument with regard to the data that is inputted into the child support guidelines. For example, there may be a dispute regarding a party’s income, especially when bonuses and overtime are involved, or one party is self-employed. Additionally, in situations where a party is not employed full time, there may be an argument that income should be imputed to that party as if they were employed full time. Because child support can be complex, it is always wise to consult with a skilled attorney to understand how the guidelines may be applied to your situation.
Once a child support order is entered, there may be a future need to modify the child support order due to changed circumstances. Changes in jobs and incomes as well as changes to the parenting time schedule are just some of the reasons why it may be necessary to modify child support. Fortunately, child support can be modified anytime there is at least a 10 percent change in the amount of child support that should be paid.
If you would like to discuss your child support questions with Ms. Monty, please contact our office at 970-797-3407 or through our online Contact Us form to set up an initial consultation.