If you and your spouse share any children together, child support is something that you will need to consider when getting divorced. Child support is an amount granted to one spouse and paid for by the other spouse to financially support the children of a marriage after a divorce. Learning how child support is typically calculated in Colorado could help you and your family understand what to expect from a divorce settlement or court order.
Colorado Child Support Guidelines
The purpose of child support is to ensure that children receive adequate financial support from each parent with the goal of giving the child the same quality of life enjoyed before the divorce. Each state has jurisdiction over how it determines child support amounts. Furthermore, a judge may use his or her discretion to calculate child support in special circumstances.
According to Colorado Revised Statute Section 14-10-115, there are two essential factors for calculating this order: the income of both spouses and the number of children. Each parent’s child support obligation is initially calculated in proportion with their income. Then, adjustments are made for specific child care costs, including medical expenses and health insurance. Then, the parent who is paying for these costs will receive a credit against their financial child support obligation. This will result in the final child support order.
Keep in mind that you and your spouse will have the option of creating your own child support agreement before the matter goes to trial. However, the courts will always rule according to what is in the best interests of the child. If you and your spouse’s settlement agreement deviates too much from the state’s child support guidelines, a judge might not approve the proposed agreement.
How Much Will Your Child Support Obligation Be?
In most divorce cases in Colorado, the parent that does not have primary child custody must pay child support to the other parent. However, this might not be the case with a couple that equally shares parenting time or has disproportionate incomes. Whether you believe you will be the parent who is paying or receiving child support, use the state’s guidelines to estimate how much you or your ex-spouse might have to pay in child support. Take the following steps:
Calculate you and your spouse’s combined income by adding together both of your monthly incomes. (e.g.: $4,000 from Spouse A+$6,000 from Spouse B=$10,000 combined income per month.
Divide this number by the number of children shared between you and your spouse. This will be your starting support obligation number. (e.g.: $10,000/2 children=$5,000)
Based on each parent’s individual income, calculate the percentage that each parent contributes to the combined income. (e.g.: Spouse A contributes to 40% of the combined income at $4,000 and Spouse B contributes 60%)
Multiply this percentage by the starting support obligation for each parent. This is each parent’s individual obligation. (e.g.: Spouse A: 40%x$5,000=$2,000; Spouse B: 60%x$5,000=$3,000)\
Deduct the expenses related to child care costs from the obligation amount. This amount will be credited to the spouse who pays for these costs. (e.g.: Spouse A’s obligation of $2,000-$500 in care costs=$1,500 remaining obligation)
If the spouse with primary custody has any remaining support obligation, this will be subtracted from the other parent’s obligation. The remaining balance will be the final child support estimation. (Spouse B’s obligation of $3,000-Spouse A’s obligation of $1,500=$1,500)
This equation is not infallible and will not apply to each case. Colorado child support guidelines are complicated. For example, there are additional considerations for low-income and high-income parents. The rules may also change according to the parents’ unique situation and parenting plan. The best way to find out how much you or your ex-spouse may have to pay in child support in Colorado is by consulting with a divorce attorney in Fort Collins for a personalized case review.