If you are paying child support, then you should know that a new law (House Bill 19-1215) has made changes to current requirements in Colorado. Some of these new provisions may impact your obligations as of today and in the future. Below is a quick summary of the fundamental Colorado child support changes, effective as of July 1, that you should be aware of as a parent.
1. Caretaker Leave Reduction
If the primary caretaker of an infant is taking childcare leave, the court has previously assumed that the caretaker will return to work after 30 months. Per recent changes, that number has been reduced to 24 months. Because child support is recalculated each year, based on parents' incomes, among other factors, this will impact the amount paid or received. However, the law does not change any court-ordered maintenance in this regard.
2. Imputation of Income – New Requirements
In Colorado, if one parent is unemployed or underemployed, or if the court believes that a reported income is not reliable, it will assign a projected level of income to that parent. This is called imputation. The Colorado courts are now charged with assessing a host of factors for imputation such as assets, education level, job skills, age, health, local job market, and prevailing wages, etc. when they consider what level of income to assign to a parent.
3. Changes for Incarcerated Parents
Parents who are serving sentences between 180 and 365 days will not be attributed to any imputed income while incarcerated. The old law began at 365 days. The reasoning is obvious. Incarcerated individuals typically do not have the means to earn income during that period.
4. Changes Related to Federal Disability Benefits
If a parent goes on federal disability, he or she must notify the other parent within 60 days. The custodial parent must then apply for benefits for dependent children. This will reduce the total of previously assigned child support paid by the disabled parent but not reduce the total the child receives. Note: This provision becomes effective in July 2020.
5. School-Related Fees
Mandatory school fees are now defined for the courts, and those fees must be divided between the two parents in proportion to their respective incomes. This should reduce some of the previous conflicts between spouses on this matter. Note: Effective July 2020
6. Simplification of Basic Support Schedule Based Upon Income of Obligated Parent
The new law will create new minimum child support payment obligations based on the parents' income. These will become effective in July 2020.
- If an obligated parent has an income less than $650, there will now be a $10 minimum monthly payment.
- If an obligated parent's income is between $651 and $1500, a set amount is established, based upon the number of children. The old law raised the obligation for every $50 increase.
- If the combined adjusted gross income of both parents is between $1500 and $3450, then amount that each shall assume in support of their child(ren) will be divided proportionately.
7. Changes in Calculating Overnights
When parents have multiple children, they may have different overnight schedules. This has always been a "sticking point" when calculating child support. The new law makes this simple. Take the total number of overnights in a month and divide that number by the number of children. That figure is used as a factor in determining child support obligations. Again, this provision will take effect only next year, July 2020.
There you have it. These are the critical child support changes in Colorado that you should review. If you have any questions, or if you think you need legal assistance for modifications in support based on this new law, get in contact with our firm and let us assist you!