If you are a parent who is going through a divorce or a separation, there are sure to be a lot of things on your mind. Not only do you have to think about how your children will emotionally cope throughout the divorce, figure out how visitation will work between yourself and your spouse, and determine the best overall plan for the future of your children, but you also must consider the big question of child support.
In 2015, the U.S. census bureau reported that over 22 million of all children in the U.S. had a parent who lived outside of their household. This number is equal to over one-fourth of all children under the age of 21 in the country. With that in mind, a majority of these parents are under a legal obligation to provide support for that child.
With the law varying from state-to-state, the issue of child support is a good question for an attorney or family law specialist in your area. Today, we’re focusing on the specific nature of Colorado law and its impact on child support.
The Basics: Custody
Before you learn the specifics about how the amount of child support payments is calculated, it is helpful to know some of the terminology that involves your child.
First, there is a difference between physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody, which is typically held by a single parent designates who the child or children will primarily reside with. Legal custody, which is typically shared by both parents depending on the situation, gives the parent the right to make decisions for the child’s welfare.
The parent that has physical custody is the custodial parent. The other parent, even if that parent has legal custody, is referred to as the noncustodial parent and may be obligated to pay child support.
It is possible that the parent will have two custodial parents instead of a custodial and a non-custodial parent through a shared physical custody agreement. This may change the amount of child support paid (or whether child support is paid at all.) In Colorado, the state considers shared physical care to be more than 92 overnight days with each parent.
In Colorado, You Have A Legal Obligation to Support Your Child
Each state has different rules regarding the legal obligation to support a child and makes a different determination of how much is owed in child support. Colorado law deems that both parents of the child, regardless of whether they are married, must provide support to their children.
How is the Amount of Child Support Determined in Colorado?
Child support payments are meant to go toward simply that: the support of the child. This includes any food, clothing, food, housing, and utilities.
Child support payments in Colorado are based on each parent’s adjusted gross income as well as the amount of time each parent spends with the child. This individualized information is weighed alongside state-wide information about the amount of money intact families are spending on their children’s care.
Both parents may include expenses to be considered for deductions to their gross income, which may result in a lower child support payment. Expenses such as other existing child support orders, proof of payments made to support another child not residing in your home, and payments for post-secondary education of another child may be deducted from your total income. Other costs, such as uninsured medical expenses, transportation, and daycare might be eligible to be deducted from your overall income, but it is important to ask an expert about what you can deduct..
In addition to the amount of child support determined by the state of Colorado, parents are also required to share the costs of childcare, the child’s uninsured medical expenses, and the cost of the child’s insurance. Any extra money that is spent by the noncustodial parent for the benefit of the child which is not court ordered is typically considered to be a gift and cannot be included in child support expenses.
There are a lot of factors that go into determining how much should be paid (and how much may be owed) in child support payments in Colorado. The short answer is that there is no way to know without assessing the specific situation. If you are looking to know more about child support and how it can affect your separation or divorce, contact our family law specialists today to schedule a consultation.
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