In most divorces, if the partners are also parents, divorcing does not end their relationship. After a divorce in Colorado, when a dispute emerges over child custody, child support, or visitation, a parent will need to consult with a Leadville family law attorney.
Nothing is more important than our children. When married parents get a divorce – or when unmarried parents have a dispute – a Colorado court may order a non-custodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent.
Colorado has established its child support laws to ensure that the children in our state receive adequate shelter, food, clothing, and medical care. If you are a parent in Colorado, keep reading, and you’ll find some answers to these important questions:
1. How are child support payment amounts calculated in Colorado?
2. For how long is child support paid?
3. How can you change the monthly child support amount?
Who Pays Child Support?
The law in Colorado requires both parents to provide an adequate amount of financial support to their child. Child support is paid by the parent who does not have physical custody of the child to the child’s other parent (or to the child’s caregiver).
This state’s family courts adhere to strict, complicated child support guidelines. If the parents can work out their own child support agreement voluntarily, it will usually be approved by the court unless the voluntary agreement varies substantially from what state guidelines require.
Divorcing spouses typically disagree on most things – it’s why they divorce. But in Colorado, if both sides can be conciliatory and agree on matters like child custody and child support, they can save themselves a substantial amount of both time and money.
How Are Child Support Payment Amounts Calculated?
The key figure in a Colorado child support calculation is the combined adjusted gross income of the parents. That means income from sources other than child support payments, public benefits, or retirement plans.
Colorado courts generally allocate a percentage of the parents’ combined adjusted gross income to child support. These factors are also taken into account:
1. parental obligations including child support or alimony arising from other marriages
2. the children’s daycare and healthcare cost
3. the children’s emotional needs and the amount of time they spend with each parent
4. the children’s ages
5. the standard of living the children would have enjoyed if the parents had not divorced
Colorado courts may adjust the calculated child support amount when a court believes that a different figure is more appropriate in a specific case. In any legal matter that involves a child in Colorado, a court will make a decision based on what it believes is the best interests of the child.
For How Long Is Child Support Paid?
In Colorado, child support payments continue until a child turns 19, or if the child is still attending high school, payments will continue until one month after graduation, or when the child turns 21. However, in rare situations, child support payments may be paid indefinitely if a child cannot become self-supporting due to a mental or physical disability.
To receive child support in Colorado, you must have a court order and a good attorney’s help. A child support order in this state can’t be modified unless one or both parents seek and obtain a modification from the court.
How Will A Family Law Attorney Help?
Unless divorcing parents reach a voluntary agreement regarding child support, they can expect that a child support order will be part of the final divorce decree. The right Colorado divorce lawyer can handle every aspect of your divorce including:
1. child support and child custody questions
2. the division and distribution of assets, properties, and debts
3. spousal maintenance (alimony) when it’s appropriate
Can A Court Order For Child Support Be Changed?
When circumstances change – as they always do over time – you may need to have a child support order modified.
For example, if either spouse remarries, relocates, has a new child with another partner, or becomes unemployed, seriously injured, or convicted of a crime, your ongoing child support order may no longer be possible or practical.
If you’re the parent who receives child support payments, you may seek a modification of the child support order if the other parent’s income increases, if expenses for your child substantially increase, or if the other parent is found to have undisclosed income.
If your spouse is requesting the modification of an ongoing child support order, you can challenge that request if you believe it is unneeded or inappropriate. Parents on either side of such a dispute will need the help of a good Colorado family law attorney.
Once a child support order is issued, the court is reluctant to change it for anything less than a substantial reason. Parents should understand that modifications of child support payment orders are generally made by a family court only when circumstances have substantially changed.
If You Are Not Receiving Court-Ordered Child Support
As mentioned previously, Colorado courts are committed to the best interests of this state’s children, so the courts make the enforcement of child support orders a priority.
If you are a custodial parent and you are not receiving the child support that has been ordered, the right family law attorney will represent you in court and ask the court to enforce its order.
The courts have a variety of tools for enforcing a child support order. A wage garnishment, for instance, withholds a portion of a delinquent parent’s earnings and redirects that amount back to the custodial parent. Harsher remedies – like jail for contempt of court – are available if needed.
If you’re a noncustodial parent, even if you become injured or unemployed, you cannot simply stop paying child support. You must have the court order for child support modified or you could face the penalties mentioned above, like a wage garnishment or a contempt of court finding.
What Is Every Child’s Right?
In Colorado, if you’re having any dispute with your child’s other parent regarding child custody, child support, or any other matter of family law, speak at once with a reliable Leadville family law attorney.
Your attorney can review your situation, explain your legal options, and help you make the right decisions for yourself and for your child or children. Every parent has the right to a good lawyer’s help, and every child has the right to the very best that parents can provide.