Matters pertaining to child and spousal support may be the most difficult parts of negotiating a divorce or separation agreement. To protect the future for yourself and your children, effective representation during support proceedings is essential. Although the Colorado child support guidelines are relatively rigid, the amount and format of spousal support is quite flexible. A skilled negotiator and litigator can ensure that your interests are protected when these decisions are made.
Assisting With Colorado Child Support
In Colorado, the appropriate amount of child support is determined by a statewide uniform child support guidelines. C.R.S. § 14-10-115, which serves to determine the amount owed for child support of minor children. All minor children of parents, whether natural or adopted, are owed a duty of child support. The child support obligation applies regardless of whether the parties are married.
The amount of child support depends on several factors including both the custodial and non-custodial parent’s incomes, the amount of time (overnights) each parent spends with the children, amounts paid for health insurance for the children, for work related daycare and other necessary extraordinary expenses for the children. The Courts also may apportion other expenses between the parties such as extra-curricular activities, special events, sports, tutoring, school fees and other expenses which may be additional obligations.
While child support is usually calculated pursuant to the Colorado statutory formula, both the Courts and the parties can deviate from this formula if the reasons for deviation are appropriate for the child. The Courts also have wide latitude to decide issues about disputed input data (for example the true amount of a parent’s income). Child support generally terminates when the child attains the age of 19 except: when the child marries before attaining the age of 19, dies, emancipates, or enters active military service before attaining the age of 19, or is still in high school and living with a parent.
Colorado Child support is considered the right of the child and the Court’s duty is to protect the child’s right in this regard.
Additional provisions regarding child support in Colorado provide for a low-income adjustment, a provision that extraordinary medical expenses include co-payments and other deductible amounts that exceed $250.00 per child per year and an adjustment for the Federal Child Care Credit.
Colorado child support guidelines do not address the amount of support when the combined gross incomes exceed $20,000.00 per month. In those cases in which income is above the maximum guideline amount, the Court may or may not extrapolate in order to increase support. Ultimately, the Court’s responsibility is to make a decision based on the reasonable needs of the child. Often this may include an analysis of the lifestyle which the child has enjoyed along with any special needs or interests.
In Colorado, the Court does not have the authority to enter orders requiring either parent to pay for college or other higher education expenses, but the parties may do so by agreement.
Modification of Colorado Child Support
Should either or both parties experience a significant change in financial circumstances, the Court may modify child support as a result of this change. In most cases, it is typical that the financial circumstances of the parties will change from time to time and it will be necessary to modify child support. Significant changes can include increase or decrease in income, loss of job or a change in employment which either decreases or increases income and a change in the amount of overnights the child spends with each parent.
In Colorado, modification of child support requires a “substantial and continuing change of circumstances.” This has been further clarified to require at least a 10% differential between the prior child support order and the proposed new amount of child support. C.R.S. § 14-10-122 which addresses modification of child support provides that the Court has continuing jurisdiction to modify child support and the parties are precluded from restricting modification.
The Court has authority to enter a modification retroactive to the date of the filing of the motion to modify but can make orders retroactive to other times in cases in which retroactive modification would cause undue hardship or substantial injustice or in cases in which there has been a mutually agreed upon change of physical custody of the children. Tax exemptions for purposes for filing federal and state income tax returns may also be modified.
Agreements with regard to modification of child support must be submitted in writing for approval to the Court. Informal agreements for modification may not be enforceable.
The issuance of a final support decree may not be the end of your interaction with your former partner. You try to plan ahead, but circumstances change. Whether you are responsible for making support payments or you receive support payments, if your circumstances have changed since the original decree and you wish to seek child support modification, we may be able to assist you.
Often, parents will relocate to another state after their divorce. Federal enactment of the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act and the state enactment of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act has served to prevent situations in which parents may have multiple child support orders for the same children. When one parent moves to another state, there is a process for establishing one controlling order to be enforced in both states. However, there are issues between two federal laws which Congress has yet to reconcile which may make it advantageous for a party to have their case in one forum and not another.
Child support issues can be multi-faceted, unique and require complex analysis. There are many underlying considerations to the basic child support formula which may have a considerable impact on the amount of child support. Our office will work diligently to obtain a child support order which is fair and appropriate.
Gary Gottesfeld can assist you need assistance in determining the proper amount of child support or require assistance in enforcement of child support orders.