In any divorce case with children or custody case in Colorado, child support is going to be calculated and considered. Colorado law recognizes that parents owe their children a duty of financial support for basic needs such as education, clothing, housing, childcare, healthcare, and food.
One of the biggest misconceptions regarding child support is that this money goes to the other parent. This is simply incorrect. In Colorado, child support money belongs to the child — not the other parent. I’ll say that again: child support is the child’s money. Always keep that in mind.
Because child support is the child’s money, generally the courts in Colorado are reluctant to waive child support even if the parents agree, when the calculation states there should be some money paid.
How is child support calculated in Colorado?
Under Colorado Rev. Stat. (CRS) § 14-10-115, child support payments are calculated based on each parent’s combined gross income (i.e., each parent’s income before taxes and health insurance premiums are deducted), the parenting time allocation, and expenses related to the children like childcare, health insurance, and extraordinary medical expenses above $250 per year.
In determining the amount of child support to award, the court will consider the following factors:
- The total number of children
- The financial resources of the custodial parent
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved
- The physical and emotional condition of the child
- The child’s medical expenses
- The child’s educational needs; and
- The financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent
Can you modify a child support order?
The general rule is that child support can be modified so long as there would be a 10% change to the monthly amount. That change can be an increase or a decrease.
To help identify when a change is necessary, parents are required by statute to exchange financial documentation each year. Child support can only be modified back to the date the motion was filed. So, if a change was appropriate three years ago but you never filed anything, you cannot file requesting the Court modify back that far. As soon as you know a change is needed, you need to file.
When reviewing modification requests, courts consider the following factors relevant:
- Significant changes in income
- Major reductions in childcare costs
- Major changes to the parenting schedule; and
- The emancipation of the child
Child support is typically provided until the child is 19. (Yes, 19). There are some exceptions to this rule, which you should talk to a lawyer about if you think they apply to you.
This website includes information about legal issues and legal developments. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems.
Lauren Lester is an affordable family law, estate planning, and probate lawyer licensed in Colorado.