If you’re a parent getting a divorce in Fort Collins or any other community in Colorado, you or your ex will have to pay child support. Guidelines exist to govern the exchange of child support, and judges are required to use them to make sure kids get the support they deserve.
Colorado Child Support Guidelines
The Colorado child support guidelines are designed to make sure both parents provide enough support to their children. The courts use them any time parents aren’t together – whether they’re divorced, separated or unmarried.
Support is calculated based on the gross (before tax) income of each parent. It’s typically a percentage of both parents’ gross income. It averages out to about 20 percent for one child and another 10 percent for each additional child. However, it wouldn’t make sense to simply order one parent to pay 20 (or more) percent of both parents’ gross income without considering other factors. When judges are making child support decisions, they look at all relevant factors, such as:
- The custodial parent’s financial resources
- The noncustodial parent’s financial resources
- The child’s standard of living during the time the parents were together
- The child’s physical and emotional condition
- The child’s educational needs
What Does a Child Support Order in Colorado Include?
A child support order includes a dollar figure that one parent will pay the other. The parent who receives the child support can spend it any way he or she deems necessary to care for the children. It can go toward rent or utility bills, clothing, groceries or gas money. The other parent has no say in how child support money is spent, because the idea is that it supplements the custodial parent’s income so he or she can provide for the children.
A child support order will also include:
- Child care expenses
- Educational expenses
- Health insurance coverage
- Medical expenses
- Travel expenses
Under Colorado child support guidelines, the paying parent must pay until the child turns 19 or 21 if the child is still in high school. If the child cannot support him- or herself because of a physical or mental disability, the paying parent will pay indefinitely.
What About Low Incomes and the Colorado Child Support Guidelines?
Some parents are eligible for low-income adjustments to child support. Generally, if the noncustodial parent’s income is between $900 and $1,900 per month, he or she might qualify. In that case, the noncustodial parent isn’t subject to the percentage outlined in our child support guidelines – he or she may have to pay less.
What the Colorado Child Support Guidelines Account For
Our child support guidelines have room in them to determine how much time the kids spend with each parent. When parents share equal time with the children, the child support that changes hands will likely be less than it would be if one parent had the kids 90 percent of the time and the other parent only had them 10 percent of the time.
Parents must share the costs for childcare, medical insurance and uninsured medical expenses. However, they don’t always split these costs 50-50. In some cases, the higher-earning or noncustodial parent pays a higher share of these expenses.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About How Colorado’s Child Support Guidelines Will Affect Your Divorce?
If you need to talk to an attorney about Colorado’s child support guidelines, call us right away at 970-488-1887. We’ll answer all your questions about spousal maintenance, property division, child custody and other aspects of divorce, and we can start developing a strategy that gets you – and your kids – the best possible outcome.