How Child Support & Maintenance Is Calculated in Colorado
Child support is the right of the child. The amount of child support and maintenance to be paid is largely influenced by the gross incomes of each parent and the number of overnights each parent has with the child(ren). However, there are additional factors that affect the amount of child support and maintenance to be paid, such as daycare costs, health care/insurance, extraordinary expenses, and much more. A Fort Collins child support lawyer can help clients calculate these costs and build a case around the best possible option.
The gross income of each parent is defined broadly to include many factors, with a limited number of exclusions. When a parent is unemployed or underemployed, that parent may be imputed an income for purposes of determining their gross income for calculating child support and maintenance . When a parent is unemployed or underemployed, the services of a vocational evaluator should be considered to help in determining what that parent’s earning potential is.
Child support and maintenance can be modified anytime there is a continuing change in circumstances that would warrant a 10% change in child support and maintenance to be paid. Common changes that would warrant a modification of child support and maintenance include: change in employment/income of either parent, change in parenting time, and/or a change in the needs of the child. Hiring a Fort Collins child support lawyer to assist you through these transactions is an excellent decision.
The effective date of a modification of child support can be either: the date of the filing of a motion to modify child support, the date of an agreed-upon change in custody, or the date of any court order affecting parenting time.
Child support and maintenance is to be paid until the child emancipates or reaches the age of 19 years old in Colorado. However, child support can be ordered past the age of 19 (most commonly for college expenses), but only if the parents agree to such; without agreement of the parties, the court cannot order such. When one parent fails to pay child support as ordered by the court, the parent to whom child support is to be paid can pursue many options to enforce the child support order, including seeking a judgment on unpaid amounts to include interest of 12% a year compounded monthly, contempt of court, an award of attorney fees, and much more.
Unemployed or Underemployed
If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, child support and maintenance shall be calculated based on a determination of potential income – except that a determination of potential income shall not be made for a parent who is physically or mentally incapacitated or is caring for a child under the age of 30 months for whom the parents owe a joint legal responsibility or for an incarcerated parent sentenced to one year or more.
For the purposes of calculating child support and maintenance, a parent shall not be deemed “underemployed” if:
- The employment is temporary and is reasonably intended to result in higher income within the foreseeable future;
- The employment is a good faith career choice that is not intended to deprive a child of support and does not unreasonably reduce the support available to a child;
- The parent is enrolled in an educational program that is reasonably intended to result in a degree or certification within a reasonable period of time and that will result in a higher income, so long as the educational program is a good faith career choice that is not intended to deprive the child of support and that does not unreasonably reduce the support available to a child.
To learn more about how child support and maintenance is calculated in Colorado and to discuss how much you may receive or have to pay with a Fort Collins child support lawyer, contact The Cossitt Law Firm to speak with one of our knowledgeable family lawyers.