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How is Child Support Determined in Colorado?

The amount of child support payments someone must pay is often a hotly contested issue during a divorce or custody case. Even when both parents want to do right by their children, there is a tendency to question how fair or reasonable payments are when the opposing party makes the request.

When an agreement cannot be made by the children’s parents, the court will enter a ruling in the best interests of the children. It uses C.R.S. § 14-10-115 to determine what amount of child support is reasonable. These guidelines were established to ensure consistency in child support payments and were also intended to improve the efficiency of the court system and ensure parents financially support their children as best they can.

The court uses the parents’ combined adjusted gross income, and considers how the child’s life will change as a result of the parents’ separation and how those changes will affect the financial circumstances of the child in each home. For instance, how would the child have lived had the relationship not ended? Are there any additional medical expenses or childcare costs as a result of the separation? Could a child have stayed home with a parent in a two-parent household, but now must be placed in an afterschool or daycare program?

According to C.R.S. § 14-10-115:

In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance, or child support, the court may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child of the marriage to pay an amount reasonable or necessary for the child's support and may order an amount determined to be reasonable under the circumstances for a time period that occurred after the date of the parties' physical separation or the filing of the petition or service upon the respondent, whichever date is latest, and prior to the entry of the support order, without regard to marital misconduct.

The court also considers the following relevant factors when making its ruling:

• Custodial parent’s financial resources
• Non-custodial parent’s financial resources
• Child’s financial resources
• Child’s standard of living
• Child’s physical and emotional condition
• Child’s educational needs

Each case is different, so while a uniform system is used to calculate child support, the court also considers the unique circumstances of each case. Your attorney can help you frame your argument in a manner that best supports your child’s needs.

If you would like to know more about the way in which the court system calculates child support or you need someone to ensure you and your child are treated fairly, contact Montgomery Little & Soran, PC at 303-773-8100.

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