How Is Child Support Calculated in Colorado?

April 5, 2021

If you have concerns about child support in Colorado, it is an important matter that can significantly affect your children’s lives and future. Child support is predicated on both parents’ ongoing financial responsibility to their minor children, and payments are calculated in accordance with each parent’s income and the total number of shared children involved. Because child support is critical to your children’s well-being if you find yourself asking how is child support calculated in Colorado, you should consider seeking the professional legal counsel of an experienced Colorado family law attorney at Johnson Law Group. To learn more, please give us a call at (720) 463-4333 or text us at (720) 730-4558 today.

Child Support: The Basics

Colorado’s child support guidelines help to ensure that both parents continue to support their shared children financially. Typically, the parent who has primary parental responsibility receives child support from the parent who has a visitation schedule. Even if you split your time with the children relatively equally, the parent who is the higher earner usually pays child support to the other.

This is because child support in Colorado is based on an income shares calculation method, which means that each parent’s financial contribution is based on his or her income – the idea being that this is the best way to replicate the economic status that the children would have enjoyed if their parents had remained together. While Colorado's child support calculations are based on state guidelines that include a child support calculator, the court has discretion in the matter, and if warranted, can deviate from the statutory guidelines (but must provide a valid explanation for doing so).

Determining Adjustments

Once the basic child support is calculated, the next step in the process is determining if there are any adjustments that need to be made regarding the unique situation involved.

The Childcare Adjustment

Childcare expenses that are based on the following are added to the basic obligation and are divided between both parents in accordance with their individual incomes:

  • Either parent’s employment
  • Either parent’s job search
  • Either parent’s education

It is important to note that childcare costs must be reasonable and that this adjustment can increase or decrease the amount of child support paid (based on which parent needs the services and which parent receives child support).

The Health Insurance Adjustment

Generally, one of the parents covers the children’s medical and dental insurance coverage, and the portion of the payment that covers the children is added to the child support obligation. If the parent who covers the children’s insurance is the child support recipient, his or her child support will increase (by the other parent’s percentage owed).

Any Extraordinary Medical Costs

Because health insurance does not cover all medical costs, child support calculations also address these expenses. These so-called extraordinary expenses are shared between the parents – after the first $250 out of pocket – in proportion to their separate incomes. The parent who experiences the first $250 in expenses is responsible for paying it.

If a child has special needs (or another kind of long-term health concern) – that incur consistent or ongoing medical expenses – they can be added directly to the child support calculation. For situational expenses, however, the parent who didn’t incur the medical expenses must reimburse the other parent with the proportionate amount owed.

Voluntary Unemployment and Underemployment

In the larger question of – how is child support calculated in Colorado – there is the important matter of parents who choose not to work or choose not to work at their full capacity. Since child support is based on both parents’ incomes (relative to one another), this can significantly skew child support payments. As such, child support in Colorado addresses this issue by allowing the court to determine what the unemployed or underemployed parent’s income would be if he or she was fully employed.

Deviating from State Guidelines

The court can deviate from the state’s child support calculations, but it must have a valid reason for doing so. Commonly employed authorized reasons include:

  • One parent spends substantially more time with the children than is reflected in the calculation of overnights.
  • Either parent or a parent’s current spouse is experiencing extraordinary medical expenses.
  • There are extraordinary costs associated with one parent’s parenting time (extensive travel, for example).
  • There is a gross disparity between the parent’s incomes (that is not adequately addressed in the guidelines).
  • One parent owns a substantial asset that does not generate income, such as a property.
  • There are consistent overtime payments that do not show up in gross income (because the overtime is voluntary, for example).
  • One of the parents has income from a second job.

Child Support Calculations in Colorado - FAQ

If you are facing a child support concern, you likely have many questions, and the answers to the most frequently asked questions can help.

If my ex fails to pay child support, can I deny visitation?

No, child support and visitation are two completely separate matters. If your children’s other parent is not paying court-ordered child support, consider reaching out to the experienced family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group in Colorado today.

At what age can my child decide who to live with?

The State of Colorado has no set age at which a child can weigh in on his or her own child custody arrangements (which directly affect child support). If the court, however, deems the child sufficiently mature and capable of doing so, it will likely take the child’s preference into consideration.

We split our time with the children equally. Why do I still owe child support?

The amount of time you spend with your children is a determinative factor in the child support calculation, but it is not the only factor that matters. Child support payments are calculated in relation to each parent’s ability to pay. If you earn significantly more than your ex, you will likely be required to pay child support.

Consult with an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

If you are facing the issue of child support calculations, the dedicated family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group can help. We take great pride in helping clients like you find favorable resolutions to their child support issues. Contact our experienced attorneys by texting us at (720) 730-4558 or calling us at (720) 463-4333 today.

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