How will you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse share the costs of feeding, clothing and housing your children? How will this arrangement be forged, and under what circumstances can it be changed? Perhaps most critically, what do you need to do to ensure a fair outcome?
In Colorado, child support can be ordered before dissolution of the marriage. And the enforcement order issued at that time is just as enforceable as one awarded when your divorce is final. Therefore, it’s important to learn about child support issues, even before divorce proceedings begin.
Under Colorado law, both parents are financially responsible for their children. However, “child support”–the money one parent may be required to give to another for the care of a child–is determined by the number of overnights a child spends in a parent’s home, each parents’ income, such as childcare costs, which parent is paying health insurance for the children (and how much this cost is) and other factors. Courts must consider specified guidelines to determine this support.
Child support is included in the court-required “parenting plan,” but the financial determinations are separate from division of other parenting responsibilities or time spent with children.
Factors to Determine Support
In addition to sources of income, educational or day care costs, courts may consider the following:
- Any additional financial resources of the custodial parent
- Any financial resources of the child
- The child’s current standard of living (during the time of the marriage)
- The physical and emotional well being of the child
- The financial needs of the non-custodial parent
Tools to Start Calculating Child Support
Colorado courts have a downloadable child support calculator to help you get a sense of what support payments may look like, based on spouse income, educational or day care costs, and more.
The court website also includes a child support worksheet to help navigate through the process.
Once a determination for support is made, and the amount is set, the order will be entered into the court system. Payments are not always made directly to the other spouse, but are usually made into the Family Support Registry. Payments are recorded by time and date of receipt and then forwarded to the receiving parent.
Modifications to Child Support
Child support usually continues until a child is 19 years old (although for disabled children and/or other special circumstances, it can continue beyond the age of 19). Therefore, even after initial determinations have been made, child support requirements may need to be adjusted over time–due to job changes, educational or health needs, or even a move, if it requires one or both parties to leave the state. Only a judge can modify child support orders.
If you are looking for professional, informed, sound advice regarding your divorce and child support, request a consultation with a Boulder child support lawyer with Stahly LLC today.