When it comes to a divorce or split, and there are children involved, the issues involving the children (child support and child custody) tend to become contentious. Generally, both parents want to be involved in their children’s lives, and while that is great, they still need to care for them financially.
This is where things tend to get messy. One parent is usually ordered to pay child support to the other (the custodial parent). Some parents do not take this obligation seriously. Even though child support is a court order, they do not take it seriously.
Each state has guidelines for child support in place, and Colorado is no exception.
What You Need to Know About Child Support Guidelines in Colorado
Colorado’s child support guidelines can be found in Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 14-10-115. These guidelines are based on financial resources, the needs of the custodial parent, the physical and emotional condition of the child, and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had their parents stayed together and not divorced.
As you can see, child support is meant to support the child, although many parents use the money to support their own needs. This is why child support is often seen as controversial. Parents do not always like to pay it because they do not think it is used properly. They refuse to make payments out of spite or revenge. All this does is hurt the child.
To ensure that the child benefits from the care and support of both parents, Colorado uses an Income Shares Model to determine child support. This allows the courts to determine the average costs of raising children in households with a wide range of incomes.
The Income Shares Model is based on studies that have found that the proportion of household spending devoted to children is related to the amount of household income and the number and ages of the children in the household. If one parent has physical care for 273 or more overnights per year, the amount calculated for that parent is presumed to be spent directly on the child. For the other parent, the calculated amount establishes how much child support is to be paid. For cases with split or third-party child care, or extensive sharing of physical care, each parent’s share of child support is adjusted by the amount of time they spend with the children. The Income Shares Model also looks at health care expenses, daycare expenses, and the number of overnight stays the child has with each parent.
Determining Income for Child Support
Child support is based on gross income or the amount of money you make before taxes and other deductions. For most people, determining their income for child support purposes is relatively straightforward. Most workers receive a W-2, which can provide a clear picture of income in terms of salary, wages, and tips.
However, there are other sources of income to consider. Some examples include alimony (from a previous marriage), Social Security benefits, personal injury settlements and awards, veterans benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, and any other monetary benefits.
Also, keep in mind that there are a number of issues that can complicate the matter, including:
- Small business ownership
- Significant amounts of overtime
- Independent contractor status
- Reimbursed expenses
For income from self-employment, rents, royalties, or proprietorship of a business, gross income is defined as gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce such income.
Gross income does not include benefits received from public assistance programs, such as the Colorado Works Program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), food stamps, and general assistance. Gross income also does not include child support payments, Social Security benefits received by a minor child, or gains on an IRA or other retirement account.
Interestingly, income from additional jobs causes the payer to work more than 40 hours per week (full-time employment). So if you are working multiple jobs, you may not have to include all your income. Your lawyer can answer your questions about this.
Contact Us Today
Child support is not an arbitrary amount. It is based on the state’s Income Shares model, which involves various factors.
The team at Tanis McGonegal can help you with child support. We understand the importance of properly set child support levels and know that parents deserve appropriately set child support levels to help them maintain household stability while meeting their children’s needs. Schedule a consultation with our Colorado family law attorneys today by filling out the online form or calling (303) 465-4605.