A Guide To Child Support Arrangements

When finances and assets are divided following a divorce, so is the time that children spend with their parents. In Denver, Colorado, the legal framework for child support arrangements [1] prioritizes the needs of the children and addresses the financial responsibilities that will be taken on by each parent.

Here is a look at the legal obligations of custodial and non-custodial parents following a divorce.

Calculating child support

In the state of Colorado, it is typical to use a formulaic approach for calculating child support arrangements [2]. This formula takes into account:

Each parent’s income: Both parents’ gross incomes will be considered. This will include their wages or self-employed income, any bonuses to which they are entitled, and if either parent is underemployed or unemployed, potential imputed income will be considered.

The number of children affected by the divorce: The aim of this approach is to determine how much each parent would have spent on each child had the marriage not broken down.

The cost of routine expenses: This includes the costs of healthcare and childcare, which may increase as a result of the divorce if the custodial parent needs the children to attend extracurricular activities after school and their spouse would previously have cared for them. 

The amount of time each parent will assume full responsibility for the children: To achieve a fair outcome, the court will consider the number of days per week that each child will live with each parent and use a percentage-based system to determine the level of financial responsibility associated with this level of care. 

Basic child support obligation: There is a basic minimum that the state of Colorado requires non-custodial parents to pay toward the care of their children, and this is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the combined gross income of each parent and the number of children they have.

Although it may appear complex, this formula is designed to arrive at a fair and balanced outcome for both parents. The court will occasionally deviate from this calculation when special factors exist, such as a child having extraordinary medical needs or needing special educational expenses to be funded.

To minimize the legal costs that are incurred during divorce proceedings, it is recommended that parents try to agree informally on the split of parenting time and costs they deem to be appropriate. It may be helpful to consider attending mediation during the divorce proceedings in order to navigate the emotionally complex process and arrive at a mutually agreeable outcome.

Modifying child support arrangements

The courts recognize that situations change, so child support arrangements can easily be modified when either parent experiences a significant change in circumstances. These include a substantial change to their income, the parent or child developing a medical condition that warrants more or less parenting time or extra costs for treatment, or cases where either parent wants to take on or reduce their parenting time.

If the changes are mutually agreed upon by both parents, the child support arrangements can be modified relatively quickly and easily. However, if there is a dispute about the proposed modifications to the child support arrangements, it is recommended that specific legal advice is sought to safeguard the needs of the children.

Support for enforcing child support orders

Some custodial parents rely on their child support payments to cover their essential bills, such as their mortgage and utilities, particularly when they are unemployed and serving as a full-time carer for their children. When a non-custodial parent fails to make the requisite payments or fails to do so in a timely manner, it is possible to enforce payment through an established mechanism.

Under the Child Support Enforcement Act [3], a court can withhold income from a non-paying parent, intercept their tax refunds and suspend any licenses that they have, such as a driver’s license or a professional license, until they resume payments. 

It is even possible for a parent who breaches their child support obligations to be held in contempt of court for persistent non-compliance with the legally enforceable child support arrangements to which they agreed during the divorce proceedings.

Child support laws in Denver, Colorado, can be complex. Although maintaining an amicable relationship with your ex can prevent many child support arrangement issues from arising, it is always worthwhile to seek the support of a family law firm such as Lewis & Matthews, P.C., who can ensure that your child support arrangements are legally sound and prioritize the best interests of the children involved.

To find out how we can help you make appropriate child support arrangements for your family, modify an existing arrangement or enforce legal action against a non-paying parent, please contact us today.


[1] https://www.courts.state.co.us/Forms/PDF/JDF1822.pdf
[2] https://childsupport.state.co.us/calculating-payments
[3] https://law.justia.com/codes/colorado/2017/title-26/article-13/