Colorado Child Support and High-Income Families

Posted in Child Support on September 17, 2021

Child Support in Colorado

Child support is a complicated area of divorce law for any family. If you qualify as a high-income family under state law, however, you are an exception to the general Colorado Child Support Guidelines and may need additional assistance in calculating each parent’s child support obligation. The best way to understand child support in your particular divorce case is by consulting with a child support attorney in Fort Collins.

The Basics of Colorado’s Child Support Guidelines

Colorado’s support guidelines are found in Colorado Revised Statute Section 14-10-115. This statute states that one or both parents will receive a duty for child support based on their respective incomes, the financial resources of the child, the needs of the parent with primary custody, the child’s physical and emotional condition, and the standard of living that the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not ended in divorce. 

Out of this list, the two main factors used in calculating a child support obligation are the parents’ incomes and the number of children. The way that child support is calculated is confusing and can change from case to case. A judge has discretion over how much child support to order, in certain circumstances. However, the best interests of the child will always be made a priority above all other factors and considerations.

Calculating child support as a high-income family requires adding up both parents’ monthly income, then dividing the combined income by the number of children. Each parent will take on an amount of child support obligation based on the percentage by which he or she contributes to the combined monthly income. The costs of child care will be deducted from the parent who pays for this care. Finally, each parent will pay an amount proportional to their income and custody obligations.

Exceptions for High-Income Families

Child support is far from a simple matter in a divorce case in Colorado. Although the family law system gives parents the opportunity to create their own child support plan, the support obligation must be close to Colorado’s Child Support Guidelines. Otherwise, a judge may refuse to sign off on the arrangement. If the parents cannot agree to a child support amount, the issue will be determined by a judge, typically in accordance with the legal support guidelines.

If you and your spouse earn over $30,000 a month in total combined income, you are classified as high-income earners in Colorado. Being a high-income family will impact your child support calculation. A judge will have the choice to either apply the support guidelines as if your income was exactly $30,000 or to extrapolate above that. Extrapolation is relatively uncommon in the Colorado family courts. A judge is more likely to use the upper guideline limit ($30,000) as the maximum child support awarded.

In most cases involving high-income families, the higher-earning parent will make an argument to a judge as to why the top guideline amount should not be exceeded. If a judge decides to use $30,000 as the maximum, the support obligation will fall at $30,000, even if it should be more based on a higher income. If extrapolation above the maximum is authorized, a judge can use his or her discretion to determine the child support obligation. Note, however, that a judge cannot enter a child support order that is below what it would be with a $30,000 combined income without good reason. 

Consult With a Child Custody Lawyer in Fort Collins, CO

If you have further questions about child support as a high-income family during a divorce case in Colorado, consult with an attorney in Fort Collins right away. Only an attorney can give you tailored legal advice specifically for your unique circumstances. Hiring an attorney to represent you during your divorce case could help you argue for the best child support outcome for you and your family.