Calculating Child Support

In Colorado, child support is determined pursuant to C.R.S. §14-10-115.   The formula for child support, otherwise known as the “Child Support Guidelines”, creates a rebuttable presumption for the calculation of child support in cases where the annual combined income of the parties is less than $360,000.00 per year.  Under certain circumstances, the Court can deviate from the Child Support Guidelines although these deviations are unusual and occur more frequently by a stipulation of the parties as opposed to a Court’s Order after a contested hearing.  If the parties’ combined income exceeds $360,000.00 per year, the Court has considerable discretion with regard to the child support figure. 

The primary factors which determine child support pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines include the following: a) each party’s gross monthly income; b) the amount of maintenance being paid by either party; c) the amount of either party’s obligation to pay child support to a third party or for the support of a child not of this relationship who is living with that parent; d) the parenting time schedule; e) the cost of work-related child care; and f) the cost of health insurance for the minor child(ren).  The Guidelines contain additional factors which are used less frequently and which are not included here for the sake of brevity.  If the parties to a child support proceeding can readily agree upon the correct figures to be inserted into the Child Support Worksheet, child support can be easily determined at minimal expense to the parties.

As a practical matter, the parties often disagree about various figures in the Child Support Worksheet.  One party’s assertion of their gross income may be challenged on the basis that he or she:  a) is underemployed; b) is misrepresenting their income from self-employment; or c) is not including all components of their income as required by the statute.  On occasion, the parties disagree about whether certain “extraordinary expenses” of the children should be included in the Worksheet.  Additionally, since the parties’ overnight parenting time schedule has a significant impact upon the Child Support Worksheet, the parties are often unable to determine child support until they can first resolve their dispute regarding the parenting time schedule.

The determination of child support is a critical aspect of either a divorce proceeding which involves children or a proceeding for the allocation of parental responsibilities.  Although child support is always subject to modification pursuant to C.R.S. §14-10-122 et. seq., an experienced attorney will work towards resolving your child support case in a manner which does not leave you burdened with the responsibility of filing a post-Decree child support modification motion while the ink is still drying on your divorce decree.  At the Law Office of Edra J. Pollin, we work hard to determine an accurate and equitable child support order which fairly reflects the Child Support Guidelines and the circumstances of the case.

Termination of Child Support

In Colorado, child support terminates when a child attains the age of nineteen unless the court finds that the child has emancipated prior to that age.  Emancipation can occur before age nineteen if the child marries, commences active military duty, becomes self-supporting or for other reasons.   The parent who is alleging early emancipation of the child has the burden of proving this emancipation if there is a factual dispute between the parties about this issue.

Modification of Child Support

In Colorado, the modification of child support is governed by C.R.S. §14-10-122 et. seq.  The statute requires a showing of changed circumstances that are continuing and substantial so as to warrant a modification of support.  The basic tenet of the statute is that if the revised/updated child support calculations result in a figure which is ten per cent or greater than the existing support figure, this creates a presumption that the child support should be modified.

When a Motion For Modification of Child Support is filed by one party, the parties need to exchange mandatory financial disclosures to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to modify the existing child support order.  In most cases, with the benefit of mandatory financial disclosures and settlement negotiations between counsel, post-Decree child support modifications can be resolved without a contested hearing.

Payment of Extracurricular Activity Expenses

In an age where many children are actively involved in constructive – and expensive – extracurricular activities, divorcing parents need to determine the allocation of these costs in addition to the determination of child support.  Depending upon the parties’ incomes and additional factors, typical agreements provide for either an equal division or a pro-rata division of these expenses and for a method of payment or reimbursement to one party.  At the Law Office of Edra J. Pollin, we will make sure that this issue is addressed so that child support can be properly utilized without being spent to cover extracurricular activity expenses.

Dependency Exemption

In every case where the parties have children, they should also be determining allocation of the dependency exemption.  Colorado law provides for the allocation of this exemption in proportion to each party’s costs of raising the children so the parties generally allocate the exemption in accordance with the Child Support Worksheet.  At the Law Office of Edra J. Pollin, we will always address this issue and we strive to determine a fair and equitable allocation of the dependency exemption.

Pollin Law: a Denver,Colorado Law Firm Specializing in Domestic Relations,
Child Custody and Divorce.

Contact Us: 303.721.0383 • Fax: 303.756.9505 •
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