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What Does Child Support Cover in Colorado?

Tolison & Williams | 14 April, 2017 | Family Law

Child Support Attorney BrightonBeing a good parent means providing for your children if your marriage didn’t work out well. Your child deserves proper care from both parents. Apart from sharing your attention and affection with them, that also stands for negotiating on child support payments as part of your divorce settlement. 

How Child Support Amount is Determined 

The starting point for determining the child support payments in Colorado is the pre-tax income of each parent. As a non-custodial parent – the one, who cares for the child less than 50% of the time – you will be required to pay child support to the other party, the “custodial parent”. 

Colorado courts use a unified mathematical formula called the “child support guidelines” to determine the amount of monthly payments. This formula takes into account your gross monthly income, the time you spend with the child, daycare expenses, health insurance expenses incurred on behalf of the child and in some instances, extraordinary expenses. 

During the financial calculations, all income sources are considered including your wage, investments, social security, pensions, unemployment benefits and so on. However, if one party has already remarried, the income of their new spouse would not be counted towards child support payments and stays hidden from the other party.

You should note that this formula will not be used towards a parent with a very low income (between $850-$1850 per month). That party could take advantage of a low-income adjustment, which will reduce the total support payment. Certain adjustments also apply if one party is a high-income earner. It’s advisable to consult with a child support lawyer in Adams County or your local area before the court procedures begin.  An family lawyer will carefully evaluate your situation and explain what you can expect to either pay or receive in child support.

Types of Expenses Covered by Child Support 

Colorado child support guidelines assume compensation for the two types of child-related expenses:

Basic Expenses 

As a non-custodial parent, your child support will be used to assist the custodial parent in providing the following expenses of a child:

  • Housing
  • Basic food
  • Basic clothes

And may also utilized for the following necessities: 

  • Regular transportation
  • School lunches
  • Small pocket allowances
  • Ordinary healthcare-related expenses

Extraordinary Expenses 

Being a good parent to your child goes beyond satisfying their basic needs. While you will be ordered to help pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance ("extraordinary medical expenses"), you may wish to provide additional care for your child and offer to compensate for such things as:

  • Extracurricular activities
  • School trips and supplies 
  • Private tutoring 
  • Special clothing and equipment for the child’s hobby

These kinds of expenses can be agreed upon by both parents and outlined in the  Parenting Plan. Most parents chose either of the following ways to handle support payments for those additional expenses:

  • Estimate a monthly average and add it to the basic support amount within the worksheet. 
  • Handle the payments on a case-to-case basis as they arrive. 

The latter option, however, entails that you will have to communicate with your former partner more often. Also, be aware that enforcing non-fixed child support payments can be tremendously difficult at times. But if there's no way around it, you may decide to include a special clause to your agreement, which would clearly communicate the circumstances when both parties agree to pay a fixed percentage of the extraordinary expenses.

When discussing child support related matters with your former spouse, do not forget that this money is not merely given out to them. The money “belongs” to your child and is intended to help them grow and develop properly. For professional advice on child support payments, family law, get in touch with a child support lawyer in Adams county via email or phone.