Child Support

Child support is a periodic payment made by one parent to the other, intended to maintain the standard of living which the child would have continued to enjoy had the parties remained married. Child support can be ordered by the court in an independent support action or in connection with a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, paternity action or a proceeding for the allocation of parental responsibilities. In Colorado, child support is calculated utilizing the statutory guidelines and formula set forth in C.R.S. §14-10-115, which takes into account the monthly gross incomes of both parents (including spousal maintenance, if any), the number of overnights each parent spends with the child as well as payments made for childcare, medical insurance and other extraordinary expenses incurred on behalf of the child.

Where can I find a Colorado child support worksheet and which worksheet should I use?

Child support worksheets are available on the Colorado Courts website to facilitate this support calculation. Worksheet A is utilized when one parent has less than 93 overnights a year with the child. When the non-primary custodial parent has more than 92 overnights per year, child support is calculated on Worksheet B.

Can the court deviate from the Worksheet amount?

Courts may deviate from the Worksheet amount upon a finding that the application of the statutory guidelines would be inequitable, unjust or inappropriate. As a general rule, the court is more likely to deviate from the guidelines where the parties are proposing to pay more support than the Worksheet calculation.

How long does the obligation to pay child support last?

Typically, child support continues until the child is deemed emancipated. Emancipation occurs when the child turns 19 or earlier, if the child marries or enters active military service. In limited circumstances, child support may be continued beyond the age of 19, for example where the child is physically or mentally disabled or still in high school or an equivalent program (in which case support continues until the first to occur of (i) the end of the month following graduation or (ii) the child’s 21st birthday).

Can child support be modified?

Child support orders may be modified upon a showing of a “substantial and continuing change in circumstances.” Typically, this is interpreted to mean that a current Worksheet calculation now generates a support figure which varies at least 10% from the existing child support obligation. In most circumstances, modifications are retroactive to the date the modification request is filed with the court.

If the other parent has refused to pay court-ordered child support, can I withhold their parenting time?

While overnight parenting time is a component of the child support calculation, the payment of child support and the exercise of parenting time are separate issues. Thus, a parent who refuses to pay court-ordered support or who is chronically late in making these payments should not be denied contact with the child on this basis. The appropriate remedy for the nonpayment of support is a contempt proceeding – not a withholding of a visitation.