ColoradoChild Support Laws
Colorado Child Support Guide :: Table of Contents
Child support is an ongoing payment by a non-custodial parent to assist with the financial support of their children. Child support payments are often determined during the process of dissolution of a marriage through divorce, though the only requirements for requesting child support payments are establishment of paternity and maternity.
Child support is handled on a state level, and Colorado has a set of specific child support guidelines. On this page you can learn about how child support is calculated in Colorado, how custody split and extraordinary costs affect child support payments, and more.
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Colorado uses the "income share" method for calculating child support payments, which is designed to ensure that both the custodial and non-custodial parents contribute to their child's upkeep.
Colorado's child support formula directly accounts for parents who share custody of a child, and support payment amounts are connected to the custody split. Other special situations accounted for under Colorado's child support law include childcare costs and extraordinary medical costs. These costs may be additions to the basic Colorado child support order.
What Factors are Considered in Determining Child Support Payments?At the time a child support order is initially established, or in any proceeding to modify a child support order, if a parent is also legally responsible for the support of any other children for whom the parents do not share joint legal responsibility, the court shall make an adjustment to the parent's gross income prior to calculating the basic child support obligation for the child or children who are the subject of the support order in question as follows:
- If a parent is obligated to pay support for another child pursuant to an order, the amount actually paid on the order must be deducted from that parent's gross income
- If the other child is residing in the home of a parent, the court shall deduct from that parent's gross income the amount calculated
- If another child of a parent is residing outside the home of that parent, the court shall deduct from that parent's gross income the amount of documented money payments actually paid by the parent for the support of the other child, not to exceed the schedule of basic support obligations.
For the purposes of the child support guidelines and schedule of basic child support obligations specified in this section, the gross income of each parent shall be determined according to the following guidelines:
"Gross income" includes income from any source, except as otherwise provided in subparagraph (II) of this paragraph (a), and includes, but is not limited to:
- Income from salaries
- Wages, including tips declared by the individual for purposes of reporting to the federal internal revenue service or tips imputed to bring the employee's gross earnings to the minimum wage for the number of hours worked, whichever is greater
- Payments received as an independent contractor for labor or services, which payments must be considered income from self-employment
- Severance pay
- Pensions and retirement benefits
- Trust income
- Capital gains
- Any moneys drawn by a self-employed individual for personal use that are deducted as a business expense, which moneys must be considered income from self-employment
- Social security benefits, including social security benefits actually received by a parent as a result of the disability of that parent or as the result of the death of the minor child's stepparent but not including social security benefits received by a minor child or on behalf of a minor child as a result of the death or disability of a stepparent of the child
- Workers' compensation benefits
- Unemployment insurance benefits
- Disability insurance benefits
- Funds held in or payable from any health, accident, disability, or casualty insurance to the extent that such insurance replaces wages or provides income in lieu of wages
- Monetary gifts
- Monetary prizes, excluding lottery winnings not required by the rules of the Colorado lottery commission to be paid only at the lottery office
- Income from from general partnerships, limited partnerships, closely held corporations, or limited liability companies
Child support can be arranged out of court by a mutual support agreement between the parents, or can be decided in Colorado family court through a child support order. In Colorado, a number of factors are taken into account when determining the amount of child support to be paid in court. Here is an explanation of the two most common methods used to calculate basic child support amounts.
Income Share Method
Under the income share model, the court uses economic tables to estimate the total monthly cost of raising the children. The non-custodial parent pays a percentage of the calculated cost that is based on their proportional share of both parents' combined income.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month, and the custodial parent has an income of $1,000 per month. The court estimates that the cost of raising one child is $1,000 a month. The non-custodial parent's income is 66.6% of the parent's total combined income. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $666 per month in child support, or 66.6% of the total child support obligation.
Percentage Of Income Method
This method of calculating child support is simple - a set percentage of the non-custodial parent's income is paid monthly to the custodial parent to cover basic child support expenses. The percentage paid may stay the same, or vary if the non-custodial parent's income changes.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month. The court orders a flat percentage of 25% of the non-custodial parent's income to be paid in child support to the custodial parent. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $500 per month in child support. If the non-custodial parent's monthly income changes, the dollar amount they pay in child support will change as well.
Colorado Child Support FAQ
- How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Colorado?
- How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Colorado?
- How are child care costs treated by child support in Colorado?
- Does child support cover college education expenses in Colorado?
- How is child support enforced in Colorado?
- What are child support arrears?
- How are child support payments taxed in Colorado?
How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Colorado?
All states have a method of modifying the amount of child support owed in cases where the custody agreement provides for joint or shared custody of a child between both parents.
Colorado law accounts for shared custody of a child directly in the child support formula used to calculate payment amounts. This means that, in cases where custody is shared, the amount of child support paid by the paying parent will be reduced according to the amount of time they have custody of the child.
How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Colorado?
Colorado has specialized guidelines for the sharing of a child's extraordinary medical care costs that are separate from, and in addition to, basic child support payments. Extraordinary medical costs are generally costs generated by things such as illness, hospital visits, or costly procedures such as getting braces.
Colorado treats extraordinary medical care costs as a "mandatory deduction" for basic child support. This means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner's monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
How are child care costs treated by child support in Colorado?
Due to the high costs of child care for a single payment, Colorado has specialized guidelines that consider child care costs separately from the general costs of raising a child for the purposes of calculating child support payments.
Colorado treats child care costs as a "mandatory deduction" for basic child support. This means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner's monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
Does child support cover college education expenses in Colorado?
While the state of Colorado has no explicit requirement for college expenses to be covered under child support, support for college expense by the non-custodial parent may be voluntarily agreed to by both parties, after which it is contractually enforceable.
How is child support enforced in Colorado?
In the state of Colorado, child support is enforced by the state child support agency. The state agency handles the location of non-custodial parents, enforcement of support orders, and the handling of unpaid child support arrears.
What are child support arrears?
Child support arrears are the amount of child support that is delinquent, or unpaid, by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. Child support arrears may be collected by the state through wage garnishment, bank levy. withholding of Colorado welfare benefits, or other collection methods.
How are child support payments taxed in Colorado?
Under IRS guidelines, the recepient of child support does not need to pay federal tax on child support payments, and the payer of child support cannot deduct their child support payments. This differs from the federal taxation of alimony payments, which are treated as taxable income by the receiver and are deductible by the payor. Colorado tax law may vary on tax treatment of child support.