Secrets of the child support formula in Colorado

Child support is a formula here in Colorado, so what you’re really asking is what are the items you put into that formula. You put in a number of different items. The first item that you put in is how many overnights the child has with each party. This comes up a lot in cases because people spend time with their children but they might not have overnights with the children

Unfortunately, the formula only addresses overnights. You could literally be with the child all day long, but if they don’t stay overnight with you it doesn’t apply in the formula or you’d have to make a case to the court to go off formula because the formula asks for overnights.

Parents and child's hand stacked together.


That’s the first question. There’s a lot of argument over this especially if they’re asking for 50-50 custody. Often times the only reason a particular parent wants 50-50 custody is because it will make their child support go down significantly and that it’s not real. In other words, they don’t really want half the time with their children.

This becomes a point of contention sometimes in these cases because if you are spending 50% of the overnights with your child, you will pay less child support. There is no question because it’s a major element in the formula.

Gross Income

The second major element in the formula is your gross income. I say gross income because it means gross income. It means not the amount of money you take home but the amount of money that’s on your paycheck as your gross income. That includes things like bonuses. It includes overtime if overtime is required.

What it doesn’t include is if you have a second job. Let me explain that. If you have a 40-hour week job, that 40-hour week job is going to be your gross pay that goes in your child support formula.

If you have a second job that goes over 40 hours, that amount of money is not going to go in your child support formula. That is a real distinction that most people don’t know about. If you have more than one job and a lot of people today have more than one job to make ends meet.

I talked about bonuses, right? The bonuses go in there. That gross amount goes into your child support formula. One thing that people argue about is whether your gross income is voluntary underemployment.

In other words, at one point you were making X and now you make half of what X is and the argument is you should still be making X, whatever that was. There needs to be a determination about whether or not you are voluntarily underemployed or in fact you were laid off and this was the only job you could get. There are arguments over that. That’s a big piece of the formula.

Medical Insurance

A third piece of the formula is medical insurance and medical insurance is heavy duty these days, very expensive. Whoever pays that medical insurance get the formula leans towards them a little if they’re paying that money out for health insurance.

Extraordinary Expenses

A fourth factor that goes into the child support formula is extraordinary expenses. Those could be things like medical expenses for the child, if they’re ongoing. It could be childcare expenses going to the formula. Who’s paying the childcare expenses? It could be school. There are parties we’ve worked with that send their children to private school. Who’s paying for that private school? That can go into the formula as well.

Those are four of the basics that go into the formula. There are other adjustments here and there. There are adjustments if you have other children you get credit for having other children that you’re supporting, things like that. There’s a number of other smaller adjustments to the formula but those are the four major ones. For more information about filing for divorce, how divorce works, or any other family law matters in Colorado, call us at 303-329-3802.