Working out a custody arrangement is often challenging for a divorcing couple. That's why a lot of parents ask the courts to intervene in the allocation of the duties, child support payments, and visitation arrangements.
According to Colorado family law—at present—the state of Colorado uses overnight stays to determine the percentage of custody each parent has. This number is then used to determine child support payments. However, it isn’t the only factor that is considered by the judges. Because of this, one parent may be required to pay child support even if the child spends 50% of their time with them. Below, we’ll discuss exactly how child support works with 50/50 custody.
What is 50/50 Custody?
There's no way to calculate where a child spends every night accurately. The process would be exhaustive, too time-consuming, and error-prone. There are just too many factors to consider. So, overnight totals are a rough estimate. That rough estimate is determined based on the custody agreement. If the child is predicted to spend 182 nights at one parent's home, such an arrangement is called 50/50 custody.
Over the years, this arrangement has become preferred by the courts. Even if the final number of overnights doesn’t equal 182 precisely, the courts often try to give each parent as close to equal time as is possible. It's been proven that the happiest, healthiest children spend the maximum amount of time possible with each parent.
How Courts Decide on Child Support With 50/50 Custody
In Colorado, the child support statute is designed to maintain a consistent standard of living for the child between households. That means it takes into consideration where the child resides, but also each parent's income. Because of this, the parent who is the higher earner is usually required to pay child support to the parent who isn’t.
It may help parents to remember that custody time or visitation is not directly tied to child support. Therefore, spending more or less time with a child in their home does not necessarily increase or reduce a child support obligation.
In Colorado, the base calculation for child support is 20% of the paying parent’s income for the first child and 10% for other children born of the relationship. The law also takes into consideration the child’s medical and educational needs, the standard of living established before a divorce, and each parent's financial resources. All of these factors are considered regardless of whether or not there is a 50/50 custody arrangement.
Child Support Order and 50/50 Custody
Parents should also keep in mind that child support isn’t just the money that is sent from one parent to another. One parent may be required to pay to maintain health insurance coverage for the child. There are also educational, travel, and medical expenses that may be covered in the child support order that is given.
Making Other Arrangements
In some cases, the courts may allow parents to come to an agreement regarding child support when there is 50/50 custody. However, these cases are relatively rare. The courts will generally refuse agreements that allow a parent to pay significantly less than they would under current child support law. They also won't let one parent forego custody or other parental responsibilities in return for paying less in child support. The court will refuse an arrangement that they believe is not in the best interest of the child.
Any parent who has concerns over their current custody arrangement or child support should get legal advice before they do anything else. A qualified attorney can provide solid counsel, and help you understand your options.