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Child Support

Child Support 101: Income Calculation

Child support calculation in Colorado is largely determined by the incomes of the parents and the number of scheduled overnights each parent has. Our Fort Collins child support attorneys are experienced when advising parents as to Colorado child support law and how it should apply to each unique circumstance.

Children in Colorado have the right to be financially supported by each parent when custody is shared. Since child support is a right of the child, the Court must approve any deviation from the child support guideline amount.

Determination of Income for Calculating Child Support

Child support in Colorado is calculated based on gross incomes and the scheduled number of overnights, for the most part. For those who work a standard 40 hour work week and are paid hourly, a salary or with tips, determining the income for purposes of calculating child support should be straight forward. However, when overtime and bonuses come into the mix the Court may include this additional income when calculating support.

When a parent works a 40 hour work week and is paid salary, some benefits from employment may increase the parent’s income for purposes of calculating child support. For example, many apartment managers are provided with a rent free apartment as a bonus of their job, and the fair rental amount could be added to that parent’s income for calculating child support. Use of a company cell phone, company vehicle and other employment perks can also be considered income for calculating child support in Colorado.

A self-employed parent’s income is determined by taking gross receipts, less reasonable and necessary business expenses, and what is left is the income for purposes of calculating child support for those who are self-employed. While many parents think their income reported for tax purposes is what should be used for determining income, taxable income is not determinative in Colorado when calculating child support.


Maintenance, more commonly known as alimony impacts the determination of income when calculating child support in Colorado. The parent paying maintenance should have their income reduced by the same amount of maintenance they are paying, and the parent receiving maintenance should have their income increased when calculating child support.

Passive Income

Income from rentals, trusts, inheritance, capital gains, dividends, unemployment, severance pay, and more can influence the determination of income for purposes of calculating child support. Even cash that is not invested could be argued as additional income.

Unemployed or Underemployed

The Courts may impute income when a parent is unemployed or underemployed. If a parent is pursuing an educational opportunity that is likely to lead to an increased income earning potential within a reasonable amount of time the Court should not impute income. Any parent who is primarily responsible for a child under 30 months old who is at issue in the child support case will not be imputed income beyond that which they actually earn.

Colorado law requires the Court to calculate the guideline amount of child support as a starting point. Child support in Colorado is established pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-115. The guideline amount of child support is determined largely by the number of schedule overnights  each parent shares with child as outlined in the parenting plan, as well as the incomes of the parents. However, many more factors can influence the guideline calculation of child support. Worksheets provided by the Colorado Judicial Branch can assist you in calculating the preliminary amount for child support. The Colorado’s Child Support Commission meets regularly to review the child support guidelines and to evaluate the laws in Colorado regarding child support.

The Fort Collins Child Support and Custody lawyers at the Cossitt Law firm are here to help you through the process and determine your income for the purpose of calculating child support. Call 970-488-1887 for a consultation today or fill out our contact form and we will reach out to you.

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