What Does Colorado Child Support Cover?

Posted in Child Support on October 18, 2017

When a couple with children divorces, the Colorado court system uses the divorce proceedings to determine the best interests of the children going forward after the marriage ends. Since the divorcing couple will likely move into separate homes, custody and child support payments are common elements of divorce proceedings. In the state of Colorado, child support aims to provide the children of a divorcing couple with the best quality of life possible with minimal disruption to their established routines. The aim of every divorce case involving children is to rule in favor of the children’s best interests.

Judges who make determinations in Colorado divorce and family law cases concerning child support and custody will review each spouse’s financial records and other evidence to determine the parents’ ability to raise their children and provide financial security. If one parent earns much more money than the other but the judge reviewing the case deems both parents equally fit to raise their children, the judge may decide the higher-earning spouse must pay child support to the lower-earning spouse so the children experience minimal disruptions to their lives when moving between the parents’ homes.

Basic and Extraordinary Expenses

Child support payments involve accounting for various expenses, all related to raising children. When a judge reviews a divorce case, he or she will assess the children’s basic and extraordinary expenses. Basic expenses include standard living expenses such as:

  • One spouse may need financial assistance to pay rent or a mortgage so the children have suitable living arrangements.
  • Child support takes weekly grocery bills into account so that both spouses have the means to provide their kids with food.
  • Kids grow fast and regularly need new clothes. A judge will consider these expenses as well in child support determinations.
  • If the children’s school or extracurricular schedules lead to transportation expenses, the judge will ensure both parents pay equally.
  • School lunches. Most schools require payment for school lunches, and both parents will need to contribute toward covering those costs.
  • Medical and dental expenses. The judge will ensure that both parents pay equally for medical treatment and dental care, as well as special medical treatment for children with special needs, disabilities, or chronic medical conditions.
  • Other expressly included customary expenses, such as children’s allowances, money for planned activities, or any other costs that both parents acknowledge.

Extraordinary expenses include things like school supplies, field trip fees, school uniforms, tutoring and private lessons, sports uniforms or equipment, and fees for things like sports clubs or martial arts classes. If both parents helped pay for these expenses while married, the judge will strive toward a child support determination that allows the children to continue these activities with minimal interruptions and that ensures both parents contribute according to their ability to pay. Most child support agreements will also contain verbiage explaining how the divorcing couple will handle spontaneous or unexpected expenses related to raising the children.

Child support determinations often hinge on custody. A higher-earning spouse that spends more time with the children than a lower-earning spouse may not need to pay child support, but may need to pay alimony to the lower-earning spouse in some cases. A lower-earning spouse who spends more time with the children will likely receive more substantial child support payments. One of the best things any divorcing parent can do is reach out to an experienced and reliable family lawyer to help make the divorce case proceed more smoothly.