All parents have a duty to financially support their children. Colorado ensures that support is paid to children by ordering payments from one parent to the other after divorce or between non-married parents.
Colorado statute 14-10-115, provides the guideline formula for calculating a child support amount. An “income sharing” model is used. This means that both parents’ gross monthly incomes are used to calculate child support. Each owes an amount in proportion to the combined incomes. The higher obligation is offset by the lower obligation and a net amount is paid to one parent or the other.
Only the biological parents’ incomes are used, not a spouses’ income.
Child support consists of basic support, monthly health insurance premiums for the children only, and monthly work-related child care costs. Basic support is meant to cover housing, food, and some clothing. It does not include every cost of raising a child. Braces, drivers education, extracurricular activities, and many other expenses for children are costs that the parents will have to share over and above basic child support.
Who pays who for child support is determined by how many overnights each child spends with a parent. A parent who makes less money than the other and who has the children in their care for most of the time will be the parent receiving the child support.
A free child support calculator can be found on the state judicial branch website CO child support calculator.
When is Child Support Ordered in Colorado?
Child support will be ordered through a divorce proceeding or a proceeding for the allocation of parental responsibility if the parents are unmarried. Child support is ordered regardless of whether a parent is seeing their child or not.
A person cannot stop paying child support just because there is a dispute between the parents over time with the child or other expenses related to the child. The financial support of children is a duty that a parent cannot simply choose not to pay.
If the mother and father of the child were never married but signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity, this acknowledgment will work to establish paternity in court. An Acknowledgment of Paternity becomes a legal finding of paternity 60 days after it is signed.
If the mother and father never married, and there is no Acknowledgment of Paternity, paternity needs to be determined another way. There are presumptions of paternity that govern if there is no acknowledgment of paternity by the mothers’ partner. Genetic testing can also be requested or ordered to ascertain who the biological father is.
What Happens if Child Support is Late or Unpaid?
The consequences of failure to pay child support are serious. If a parent stops paying child support, the unpaid amount plus interest accrues until payments are current again. Unpaid child support payments are called arrearages and become a judgment as soon as they are overdue. This means the person owed child support can start the collection process against the other parent.
Arrearages can be collected through a lien on real estate, interception of tax refunds, a levy on bank accounts, and garnishment of wages.
Family law attorneys in Colorado can help with unpaid child support arrearages. To understand more about child support arrearages and the law, contact an experienced family law attorney for help.
Modifying Child Support in Colorado
An existing child support order can be changed, but a parent must show there has been a substantial change of circumstances that are continuing before a court will modify child support. This means there should be a change of at least 10% or more after recalculated child support using the new figures for income and parenting time. To get an official change in child support, the court must approve the new child support order.
There are many details that go into figuring out a correct child support amount. Call us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation.
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