Sadly, more than 1 out of every 2 marriages now end in divorce. The fallout of divorce impacts more than just the married couple splitting up, and no one feels this impact more than the divorcing couple’s children. It has been my experience that many parents going through a divorce don’t always take this into consideration, not because they are normally bad or neglectful parents, but because these parents are often under so much stress dealing with their own emotional crises that they are unable to make the kids’ needs their foremost concern like they normally would.
Children in Colorado have a legal right to be supported by their parents. Child support is the right of the child, not the right of either parent, even though one parent pays child support to the other. This is often hard for a parent paying child support to wrap his or her mind around, especially if that parent feels like the other parent is not actually using the child support money they receive for the support of the children. Unfortunately, parents in Colorado do not have a right to demand an accounting of what their child support money is used for.
C.R.S. § 14-10-115 is the statutory section that contains the Colorado Child Support Guidelines. It distinguishes between “sole” physical care, where one parent has less than 93 overnights of parenting time with the children per year, and “split” physical care where each parent has more than 93 overnights of parenting time per year.
Child support is a calculation that primarily takes into account each parent’s number of overnights per year and gross monthly income. Gross monthly income is a parent’s pre-tax income, not the net income a parent receives after taxes are withheld. While many parents feel this is unfair, it applies equally to both parents, regardless of whether they are paying or receiving child support.
Other factors such as health insurance costs, childcare expenses, and parental responsibility for other non-common children can affect the amount of child support owed.
Judges, when ordering child support, generally do not have much discretion to deviate from the guideline child support calculation, though they may do in some instances if the right evidence is presented and a record is made.
Child support can be modified if there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that results in a change of the guideline support amount by more the 10%. Common reasons for modifying child support are an increase or decrease in one parent’s parenting time, a new job, promotion, or the loss of employment, and/or the birth of another child.
Child support is frequently handled in court along with other parenting issues as part of a single legal proceeding and court hearing, whether as part of a divorce or initial allocation of parental responsibilities between non-married parents or as a modification of existing orders regarding parenting time. Having the legal representation of an experienced family law attorney is invaluable when dealing with these complex legal issues.
If you have a child support or parenting issue, contact Boal Law Firm to schedule a consultation.