Child Support

Which parent is responsible for child support under Colorado laws?

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well the Colorado statute recognizes

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that both parents are responsible for

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child support but what generally happens

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is when you work through the child

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support uh calculation one parent will

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owe money to the other because nobody

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ever really ends up in a situation where

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they both owe the same amount of child

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support but we are expected as parents

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to support our children and that

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definitely goes into the equation

How is the amount of child support determined under Colorado law?

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so the guideline calculation for child

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support in Colorado is based on the

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incomes of both parties the number of

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overnights that each parent has with the

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children and who’s paying things like

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health insurance extraordinary medical

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if there are extraordinary expenses for

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activities and work-related or

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school-related child care it all goes

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into a formula and there’s a table of

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Child Support amounts that goes up to a

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certain combined gross income there’s a

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threshold I think it’s 240 000 now

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combined gross income and that’s all in

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a table if parties have combined gross

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incomes that exceed that threshold

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amount then the court has the option

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under Colorado law to extrapolate and

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that means to extend the child support

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beyond the child support tables things

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like kids going to private school or

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extraordinary medical expenses that are

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not covered by Insurance those are

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handled under the statute but they’re

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not automatic they’re often just shared

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by the parties and proportion to their

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percentage share of the combined gross

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income if one party doesn’t work or if

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one party is underemployed that is

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they’re not employed full-time the court

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can impute that person and a reasonable

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rate of income based on their experience

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and their education and their ability to

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work so generally speaking even if

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someone is not working they will be

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imputed income some exceptions are young

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parents who are home with children

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people who are in an educational program

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that’s reasonably expected to earn them

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a higher income so there are some

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exceptions to imputation of income

When can child support obligations be modified under Colorado law?

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so under Colorado law as long as you can

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demonstrate a substantial and continuing

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change that would result in a 10

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increase or decrease in the amount of

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support being paid you can modify child

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support so that might mean whether a

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parent has lost a job and they no longer

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have the same income or if another party

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has gotten a raise or a significant

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bonus and they’re earning substantially

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more income or if the parties change the

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number of overnights that are being

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exercised there are also a number of

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other number of other issues that the

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court can modify child support that

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could be with regard to a change in

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health insurance coverage work related

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child care if there are extraordinary

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expenses that were not maybe previously

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accounted for or if something happened

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to the child that may require an

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additional expense

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uh those types of things

From Kristi’s & Chelsea’s interviews for the Masters of Family Law series on ReelLawyers.com.

Child support in Colorado can be among the most straightforward, or the most complex, part of any divorce or legal separation case. As child support is the right of the child, not the parents, the Colorado Child Support Guidelines apply in most cases and use various data points to calculate a monthly support figure based on the estimated financial support a child would be receiving from each parent if the family were still intact. The Guidelines then reallocate support between parents according to the number of overnights children spend in each parent’s now separate household, resulting in a final cash amount for one parent to pay monthly to the other. The formula is made accessible through court-approved child support software.

Unlike spousal maintenance, the result of the formula on which the Child Support Guidelines are based is a legal presumption that is entered as the child support order in most family law cases. Parties often disagree over the various data points on the worksheet, such as each party’s gross income, especially where one or both parents’ incomes are hard to determine precisely. Other inputs, such as the cost of daycare and health insurance for the child, are less likely to cause much debate. Parents may ask the court to deviate from the Guideline support amount, and if the court agrees, judges are required to list in detail why the Guideline support amount would be inappropriate or unfair. Deviation from the Guidelines, however, is relatively rare.

Imputed Income

While voluntary overtime work or second jobs and hobbies above one’s full-time income are not included in earnings/wage income for child support, parents who are voluntarily under or unemployed are still assigned a full-time potential income from earnings. This is called “imputed income.” Likewise for parents who have not worked for some time to raise children or for any other reason. Some parents may avoid such potential/imputed income in cases of severe disability, full-time enrollment in an educational program that will result in higher income once completed, and while caring for a very young child. That said, almost all income a person receives, even if passive, is considered income for child support purposes, including monetary gifts that are regularly received from a dependable source.

Calculating Income

Income calculations for business owners or self-employed earners can be particularly complex, and many expenses allowable by the IRS for business deductions are included as part of a party’s gross income for child support. Similarly, income from stocks and investments, unless they are held in a retirement vehicle like a 401(k) or IRA and not distributed, are also included in gross income for calculating child support. In cases where the parents’ combined income from all sources is over $360,000, the child support Guidelines do not apply. Such cases invite complex legal arguments, as courts are called on to decide issues like whether to extrapolate above the uppermost level of the Guidelines, whether to shift certain expenses like childcare and nannies onto one parent entirely, or whether to award monthly support at all, based on a holistic analysis of financial resources and needs.

Additional Obligations

Courts are also charged with entering orders regarding costs outside the scope of ordinary child support, such as uninsured medical expenses, private school tuition, extracurricular costs, and the like. Such orders require payments above and beyond monthly lump-sum support, typically based on each parent’s percentage share of their combined gross income. When college costs are a priority, parents are incentivized to arrive at creative solutions, since Colorado law prohibits judges from ordering parents to contribute to their children’s postsecondary tuition and expenses. Courts can, however, enforce settlement agreements between parents related to payment for children’s higher education.


Child-centered and aware of the financial burden of raising children today, the attorneys at Wells Family Law are well suited to guide you through understanding and negotiating child support in your family law matter.