After a couple separates, there are two primary financial arrangements that help ensure children are cared for and in instances of a broken marriage, to ensure that neither spouse experiences financial devastation.
Child support is a legally mandated system of payment that requires both parents to contribute to the financial cost of raising minor children. Spousal maintenance is not mandatory in this state, but may be ordered at the discretion of the court after consideration of the income of the parties, length of the marriage, need for support from the higher wage earner and the ability of the higher wage earner to provide support to the other after consideration of the distribution of the marital assets and debts. Spousal maintenance is negotiated as part of an equitable divorce settlement.
The attorneys at Pollart Miller will help you determine a fair agreement that is appropriate for your lifestyle and supportive of your and your children’s financial needs.
What Is Child Support?
Child support is the term given to funds paid from one parent to another to cover the costs of raising a child. Although every family has different life circumstances, child support generally follows a very specific formula. As a result, a few factors influence the amount of child support, including:
- Gross income of both parents
- Time the child spends at the home of each parent
- Extraordinary expenses, like insurance, medical care or schooling
Modifying Child Support Orders
Parents have an obligation to pay support for their child regardless of whether or not they are married to each other. Therefore, although child support often arises in the context of divorce proceedings, it can also become an issue during an allocation of parental responsibilities action. At any stage of raising a child, many of the factors that go into determining the amount of support may change. Your income may drop, you may relocate for a job, or you may seek a modification of a parenting time agreement which changes the amount of time the child is with you.
Whenever you need to enforce, establish, change or terminate a child support order, our lawyers provide the best protection for your interests and those of your children. You do not need to navigate the details of the law alone.
Modification of Child Support
Despite society’s deep inclination towards strong family ties and bonds, there is no denying that people have loosened a bit in terms of keeping traditional norms and virtues. Gone are the days when everyone saw marriage as something sacred, and in turn, particular concerned parties like children take up much of the damage. Children of separated couples are then left with what could be the greatest dilemma of their young lives.
Without a strong hold of their future, children definitely need financial help from both of their parents to ensure they can still enjoy a great life ahead of them. Because of this pressing conflict, governing bodies have integrated child support laws to provide financial help for these children.
In layman’s terms, child support is an obligatory financial provision given by a particular parent to his or her child after separation of the parents. It is meant to be an ongoing financial obligation and should be dutifully met by both parents in the an effort to continue to provide for the child until the child reaches the age of 19 in Colorado. More information on child support is available here.
What Will the Court Do?
In Colorado, the Court will look at several things when determining the appropriate child support amount to order one parent to pay the other. The Court will look at the number of overnights that each parent has with the child(ren). In addition, the Court will look at each parents gross monthly income, costs incurred for the children’s health care insurance coverage, daycare expenses, extraordinary expenses incurred on behalf of the child(ren), and any non-joint children cared for by the parents. In some instances if a parent is unemployed, and there is no mental or physical disability that would prevent that parent from working full-time, the Court may find that the parent is voluntarily unemployed and the Court may calculate child support based upon what that parent is capable of earning, regardless of the actual income received.
Modification of the current child support obligation is warranted if there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that would result in more than a 10% change in the current monthly support obligation. The substantial and continuing change could be caused by several things including an increase or decrease in the number of overnights a child spends with one parent, an increase or decrease in the expenses related to the child (healthcare premiums, daycare expenses, etc.), or an increase or decrease in a parents income.
Any modification of child support requires attention and a carefully presented case. Are you considering applying for child support modification? Contact Pollart Miller LLC’s Colorado family law team. We are always here to answer your questions and help you seek the best interest of your children.
Frequently asked questions about child support
No legal advice is intended. If you have questions about your divorce, child custody, and/or child support, please contact Pollart Miller LLC at 877-259-5693.
How Do I Establish Child Support?
The appropriate action would be filed with the Court to start a divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities or paternity action. Then, the Court would order the parties to exchange financial information necessary to determine the appropriate child support amount. The parties will be ordered to mediation in an attempt to resolve all issues surrounding paternity, parenting time and child support. If the parties are not able to reach an agreement, the court will conduct a hearing and issue the appropriate orders.
How Long Do I Have To Pay Child Support For?
In Colorado, generally the obligation to pay child support continues until the child reaches the age of nineteen (19) or graduates high-school, whichever occurs later. Child support can terminate prior to then if the child emancipates. In special cases, when your child has special needs or is disabled and not able to be self-sufficient, the obligation to pay child support may continue indefinitely.
What Is The Formula For Calculating Child Support Payments?
There is no exact formula to calculate child support payments. In Colorado, calculating the child support obligation takes a number of factors in consideration. Factors include, gross incomes of both parents, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and ongoing costs like childcare and health insurance.
Do Stepparents Owe Child Support?
Unless a stepparent has adopted the child, which would terminate the biological parent’s legal rights, stepparents do not carry financial obligation to support stepchildren after a divorce.
I Lost My Employment Or Decided to Go Back To School. Do I Still Have To Pay Child Support?
The answer depends on the specific case. In general, if a parent left a full-time job and returned to school in a good faith attempt to obtain better employment, their child support obligations would likely be reduced. If they, however, became purposefully unemployed or took a lower paying job in an attempt to unreasonably reduce the support available to the child, the court will likely not reduce the amount of the child support obligation.
The court may consider temporary adjustments to child support if you become unemployed, take a pay cut, have large medical bills, or have some other qualifying circumstance. Because the change of this sort required a legal process, it is highly recommended that you contact a qualified family law attorney for advice on how to modify your child support obligations as soon as you know of the changes happening in your life.
My Ex-Spouse Does Not Let Me See The Kids. Can I Stop Paying Child Support?
No. Child support and parenting time are separate issues. In the cases when one parent is not honoring the parenting plan, the other parent should go back to court and seek to enforce the court order. Regardless of any parenting time issues that might occur, the obligation to pay the court ordered child support will remain until it is modified by a subsequent court order.
What Happens If Child Support Is Not Paid As Ordered?
Not making your child support payments on time and in full can result in future court action. You may be is seen as defying an order of the court and you could be risking sanctions which may include time in jail.
To stay in compliance with child support obligations where lowering the child support obligation is not an option, sometimes a change in lifestyle might be necessary. Creating a more realistic budget, reducing expenses, finding less expensive housing, getting a cheaper car or negotiating with creditors to lower your monthly debt obligation payments are just a few places you can start. While this may seem like a very extreme change in lifestyle, it may allow you to continue taking care of your children and minimize the risk of any legal complications.