While law is changing all the time, one concept of child support law has remained a constant for several years: regardless of whether the parents of the child in question are legally married or not, the law requires that both parent provides support to their child.
In 2017, the Colorado legislature implemented some of the most massive changes to the laws and regulations regarding child support. Additionally, there have been several cases in Federal and State courts over the past year that are likely to have an effect on certain aspects of child support law. If you are a parent and you are going through a divorce, have gone through a divorce, or are in a relationship and may be considering divorce, you should know what options are available to you and your child through Colorado law.
The Addition of a Statutory Limit on Retroactive Child Support
C.R.S. 14-10-122 Modification and Termination of Provisions for Maintenance, Support, and Property Disposition
Retroactive child support if you are not familiar, is support that is given for a period prior to when support started being paid (or to the current time frame, if it had never been paid or provided at all). An example of when retroactive child support may arise is if a parent was not paying any support when the child was born and there are costs associated with prenatal and labor expenses. Alternatively, a parent may have to make retroactive child support payments from the beginning of a divorce through the time of which an official child support order is issued.
Prior to 2017, there was no limit to the amount of time that could pass between two parents agreeing to a voluntary change in custody and a court’s decision (upon request and at the discretion of the court) to modify child support retroactive to the date of the voluntary change. In other words, retroactive support could be issued for an unrestricted time period based on the discretion of the court.
As of January 1, 2017, C.R.S. 14-10-122(5) was modified and a statutory limit was added. Now, retroactive support can only be awarded for up to five years. This means that even if your child is 10 years old and you are seeking retroactive support from their birth, it is unlikely that the court will be able to award that due to the statutory limit.
Changes to Credit for a Non-Joint Child
A non-joint child (or a “nonjoint child”) is a child that is the legal child of only one parent, but not both. Typically, this is a child, whether that child be biological or adopted, of which only one of the parents has legal responsibility for, but not the other.
Colorado gives parents with a non-joint child a credit, meaning that this child reduces the reported income for purposes of calculating child support. According to C.R.S. 14-10-115(6), While Colorado changed this law in 2016, the law pertaining to the non-joint child credit changed once again in 2017.
Before the 2017 amendment, the credit only applied to children who were born before the ones at issue, not to children born after the ones at issue. Now, thanks to the 2017 amendment, after-born children can be included on the child support worksheet regardless of whether the amount of child support will change.
Exchange of Financial Information is Now Required
Before the 2017 amendment to C.R.S. 14-10-115(14), the could order a periodic exchange of financial information between parents, but did not require it. Following the 2017 amendment, however, that exchange of financial information is not required unless there’s an order of the court stating otherwise.
Overnights are No Longer the Only Consideration
Colorado child support law originally based its support determinations on the number of overnights that the child in question spent with each parent. While this is sometimes an appropriate measurement to determine how much time is spent with each parent, the rate was sometimes skewed and the number of overnights did not necessarily reflect the actual time the parent got to spend with the child or the cost that each parent had to bear.
The 2017 amendment to C.R.S. 14-10-115(8)(e), however, ensures that courts are able to deviate from this basis. Now, courts have the authority determine support in an alternative manner if the number of overnights does not reflect the amount of time that each parent truly gets to spend with the child.
If you are considering a divorce in Colorado, our divorce and family law specialists are here to help you understand the complexities of Colorado’s new laws. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.
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