Challenges related to child custody and support are often some of the hardest to overcome during divorce cases in Colorado. Negotiating child support during a divorce takes a combination of understanding state laws and knowing what you can do to help. A divorce lawyer can walk you through how Colorado handles child support orders to better understand what to expect. If you need assistance in Colorado, ask our child support attorney in Fort Collins for help.
What Is the Purpose of Child Support?
Child support is for the child, not for the receiving spouse. In general, child support covers a child’s basic needs, including education, clothing, food and housing. However, it may also help a child enjoy a richer childhood by paying for extracurricular activities such as sports, camps or music lessons. The courts may award child support to one spouse if he or she has primary custody of the kids and not enough income to continue the same level of care. If the noncustodial spouse is the main breadwinner, for instance, he or she may owe the custodial spouse money in child support after the divorce.
You Get the First Say
The courts in Colorado will first allow you and your spouse to work out a child support agreement before intervening. If you and your child’s father or mother can work together to come up with a custody and support agreement you both accept, a judge will most likely sign off on whatever you decide, unless the judge does not believe your agreement follows the state’s guidelines or is in the best interest of the child.
If you have trouble communicating or negotiating with your ex-spouse, the best way to come to an agreement is through mediation. Mediation is a chance for you both to list your grievances and hear the counsel of an unbiased third party. The judge during mediation can help you come up with a child support amount and payment strategy that works for both of you to help you avoid going to trial. Here is a helpful checklist of things to bring to mediation. If your spouse refuses to offer child support or work with you, however, you may need to go to court.
The Courts Determine a Support Award
A child support matter will proceed to court in Colorado if you and your spouse fail to create an agreement during pre-trial negotiations. During a divorce trial, a judge will assess your family’s dynamic, both spouses’ incomes and many other factors to determine child custody and support. The main factor a judge will look at, however, is the child’s best interest. The goal of child support will be to maintain the child’s same standard of living after the divorce.
Colorado’s child support statutes aim to ensure all children of divorced couples continue to receive adequate financial and emotional support from both parents. The courts will determine how much the noncustodial parent must pay the other parent in child support based on a complex state equation plus factors such as each parent’s financial resources, the child’s standard of living before the divorce and the child’s needs. A child support order may include money for medical care, disability, education and health insurance.
Colorado’s child support equation combines both parents’ gross incomes, as well as any money from retirement plans and public assistance, and takes a percentage to use as child support. Colorado typically deducts 20% of both parents’ combined gross incomes for one child and an additional 10% for each subsequent child, then splits the amount between both parties according to numerous factors.
If both parents make $100,000 together, for instance, and have four kids, the courts would split $40,000 (40%) between the two parents to support the children. In general, the noncustodial parent will have to pay the custodial parent his or her portion.