A Fort Collins child support attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Vertucci can help you navigate the system and make certain that as a custodial parent, you will be financially capable of providing your children with the life they deserve. If you are in the process of a divorce or are unmarried and have split from the other parent of your child or children, you may be wondering how you will make certain that your kids will be able to have everything they need to thrive, even in the absence of a two-parent family.
Whether you are the custodial or the non-custodial parent, having a child support and a Fort Collins child custody lawyer to represent your needs and best interests is something to seriously consider. Or, if you are the non-custodial parent, you want to ensure that the child support you are required to pay is in accordance with the law and is accurately based upon Colorado child support law. In either case, having a child support lawyer who understands the system can help.
Visit our contact us page or call the Fort Collins child support attorney at the Law Office of Stephen Vertucci at (970) 900-1800 today and arrange for a consultation.
What is Child Support in Colorado?
Colorado courts uphold the belief that all parents have an obligation to support their children, whether they’re divorced or non-married. Child support in Colorado is a monthly amount of money a non-custodial parent pays a custodial parent to provide for the child’s needs including:
A home (mortgage or rent)
Medical care/health insurance
The obligation to pay child support only ends when a child turns 19 years old in Colorado or is otherwise emancipated. The paying parent cannot monitor how the receiving parent uses the support money. Child support is meant to maintain the child’s accustomed lifestyle after the finalization of the divorce. Studies show that this reduces childhood trauma due to financial hardship following a divorce.
Colorado’s courts base child support orders on the state’s guidelines for child support. The Fort Collins child support lawyers are ready to help parents navigate these guidelines for a resolution that supports the state’s requirement to base all decisions on the best interests of the child.
Why Choose Us For Your Child Support Lawyers in Fort Collins?
All family law matters are fraught with emotion, but none more so than child custody and child support. Whether you’re seeking child support or facing a child support obligation in Colorado, it’s important to get things right—down to the last detail. A thorough, diligent child support attorney in Fort Collins provides invaluable legal counsel and experienced representation for clients facing a judge’s child support orders as part of a divorce decree, as an unmarried parent, or as a parent seeking a modification of existing child support orders. The attorneys at Stephan Vertucci, LLC can give your case the following advantages:
An individualized legal strategy for the unique circumstances of your child support case
A resolution-based approach to child support disputes along with aggressive representation with the goal of advancing the outcome a client seeks in their case
Child-focused advocates who work tirelessly toward achieving the best possible results for families in Fort Collins
A full-service law firm with compassionate family lawyers who are ready to put a powerful voice behind all of your family law matters
The attorneys at Stephen Vertucci, LLC have decades of trial experience in Colorado family courts and are ready to hear about your child support case in Fort Collins.
Colorado Law and the Determination of Child Support Payments
Colorado, like most of the rest of the United States, has laws in place aimed at ensuring that children of divorce don’t suffer from a loss in the standard of living they enjoyed when the family was intact. Divorcing parents, and parents who have never been married, are subject to the law. The State has created statutory guidelines that are used to calculate the amount that each parent is expected to contribute to the support of the children. Typically, the non-custodial parent will pay the support money to the custodial parent who is providing the children with food, clothing, shelter, medical care, schooling, activity expenses, and other needs. A Fort Collins child support lawyer can help you determine child support payments and offer expert guidance.
How Child Support is Calculated in Colorado
There are many factors that go into the calculation the Court uses to determine child support. This includes each party’s gross monthly income which can include bonuses, commissions, income earned from self employment, rental income, capital gains, and many other sources, including overtime income in certain circumstances. Additionally, the Court will consider the amount a parent is paying for the children’s portion of the health insurance premiums, work or school related day care, and several other factors. These other factors can be included in the child support calculation in certain circumstances. They include:
The child’s own financial resources, such as Social Security benefits, a trust fund or inheritance, a job or a lawsuit settlement.
Any special needs a child may have.
Any special needs of either parent.
The standard of living the child or children would have enjoyed if the marriage had not ended.
The educational requirements of each child.
Any other special considerations that can be shown to be relevant.
The Child Support Order
Using State guidelines and considering any solution the parents have proposed, the judge will issue an order for child support, which will reflect childcare expenses, health insurance costs, medical expenses, and educational expenses. Once the court has issued a child support order, it remains in effect, unless modified by the court, until the child’s age of emancipation which can be the child 19th birthday or until they graduate high school, whichever occurs later. If a child has special needs or a disability, it is possible the Court can extend the obligation to provide child support beyond the child’s 19th birthday or date of graduation from high school.
Determining Child Support Payments for Colorado Parents
Colorado uses the “income shares” model for determining child support. This approach requires both parents to make full financial disclosures through W2 forms and other documents. The outcome of this model depends on the amount of parenting time each parent has in the custody arrangement, whether they share equal parenting time (with each parent having the child overnight for at least 92 days per year) or one parent has a greater number of overnights with the child.
The guidelines used to calculate child support center on what each parent would pay toward supporting the children had they remained married. Colorado’s formula for calculating child support payments factors the following into the equation:
Both parent’s income before taxes
The number of overnights the child has with each parent per year
Each parent’s expenses
Any spousal maintenance (alimony) a parent receives
A child’s independent income—if any
Colorado offers a child support calculator page for parents to determine the amount of child support one parent is likely to pay to the other; however, it’s important to note that judges ultimately have discretion for making changes to the calculated amount based on individual circumstances.
Modifying an Existing Child Support Order
Family courts in Colorado understand that sometimes circumstances change. An experienced child support attorney in Fort Collins can help with requests for modifying an existing child support order, whether you are the paying parent or the parent who receives child support. Courts in Colorado may grant requests for modification of child support orders under the following circumstances:
There’s been a substantial long-term change in a parent’s financial circumstances
A parent has a new serious illness or disability
The cost of raising the child has changed due to medical or educational requirements
One parent’s number of overnights with the child has changed
There’s a change in health insurance costs
The paying parent has had another child
The child has left home or become emancipated such as through marriage or joining the military
Requesting a child support order modification requires producing substantial financial documentation and meeting other requirements to seek approval from the courts. Colorado courts only approve child support modifications if a parent experiences a lasting significant change in circumstances, and only if the change constitutes a 10% or greater modification of the existing orders.
Enforcing Child Support Orders in Fort Collins
Since 1984, state courts have had a legal basis for enforcing child support orders with the Child Support Enforcement Act. If a parent doesn’t pay their court-ordered child support, their balance due amount continues to grow and may accumulate interest. When a paying parent fails to make their child support payments or falls behind on payments, Colorado’s Child Support Services Program begins enforcement measures, starting with administrative actions, including sending notices to the parent. If the balance remains unpaid and the parent with the past-due balance does not make financial payment arrangements to bring the account up to date, the administrative actions become legal actions. This process begins with the district attorney’s office serving papers to the spouse, explaining the consequences if they fail to pay, including fines and jail time for contempt of court. However, courts in Colorado understand that jailing a parent makes it even more difficult for that parent to pay the support they owe. Typically, before imprisonment, child support enforcement actions include the following:
Withholding tax refunds
Placing liens on real estate property
Placing liens on vehicles and other assets
Forced sale of property or assets
Intercepting other earnings such as lottery and gambling winnings
Intercepting unemployment benefits and government income
Suspension of a driver’s license for those still in arrears without payment arrangements more than 30 days after receiving the notice
In addition to alternative collection methods, enforcement measures may also include suspension of commercial and recreational licenses, reporting arrearages to credit reporting agencies, and for those more than six months behind or with egregious arrearages of their child support payments, the state may report the delinquent payor to federal agencies resulting in federal charges.
The Fort Collins child support attorneys at the law firm of Stephen, Vertucci can help parents with all legal issues regarding child support payments, whether you’re a receiving parent who needs help with child support enforcement or a paying parent who has fallen behind and needs legal counsel about the options for payment arrangements and your rights under Colorado law.
Child Support and Paternity in Colorado
When parents have been married for at least ten months at the time of a child’s birth, the state presumes the mother’s husband is the father of the child. For unmarried parents; however, the state requires evidence of a man’s paternity before they can put orders in place for child custody, visitation, and child support obligations. A man’s signature on the birth certificate is not enough to presume paternity. Unmarried parents may address this issue by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity form, available in most Colorado hospitals and birthing centers, or by one parent or the other requesting a court-ordered paternity test.
When a child’s mother seeks child support from a putative (supposed) biological father in Colorado, she may request a paternity test. The law compels the putative father to comply with the request at a state-approved laboratory with a diligent chain of custody records. If a putative father fails to comply with an order for a paternity test, the court may award him paternity by default and put enforceable child support orders in place.
Alternatively, some putative fathers seek court orders for paternity testing to prove their biological connection to a child to seek parenting time or visitation rights. A positive match of 95% or greater likelihood of paternity results in established paternity in Colorado, giving the father full parental rights and obligations, including the obligation to pay child support.
Whether seeking a paternity test or facing a court order for a paternity test, unmarried parents should seek legal guidance from a child support/child custody lawyer in Fort Collins to navigate these complex laws and requirements.
A “Best Interests of the Child” Approach
Not only do courts in Colorado uphold a child’s best interests as the goal in all family court decisions, but divorcing or unmarried parents should also maintain this standard as their goal in all family legal decisions, including child custody in Colorado and child support rights and obligations. Maintaining civil communication and compromise between co-parents who may face a lifetime of interactions in the lives of their shared children for many years after the relationship ends. This is an essential component of placing a child’s best interests first with constructive negotiations and solutions.
Contact Our Fort Collins Child Support Lawyers Today
Whether you are the custodial parent who will need to receive of payments child support or the non-custodial parent who will be paying it, the process of obtaining a support order that is fair and sustainable while providing for the needs of your children can be extremely stressful. Having a skilled and compassionate Fort Collins family law attorney to represent your interests can remove a great deal of the stress and provide a buffer between you and your ex when disagreements arise and emotions run high. Our Fort Collins child support attorney can make a case with the court for special circumstances that affect your children’s need to receive a certain amount of child support, or if you are the non-custodial parent, your ability to pay child support, and will help negotiate an amount that is fair to all parties.
In Fort Collins, you will find the help you need by calling the child support attorneys at The Law Office of Stephen Vertucci, LLC at 970.900.1800 and arranging for a consultation to discuss the options that might be available to you. If down the road your circumstances change, our Fort Collins child custody modification lawyer will also be able to assist you in requesting an order from the court. Make the call today. You’ll rest easier knowing you have a child support lawyer who cares about your interests working for you.