Colorado child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. The monthly support amount determined by applying the guidelines is divided proportionally according to each parent’s income. These two support amounts are then offset to establish which parent will pay the other parent for support of the child. All income is typically verified by examining past W-2’s and child support worksheets are available at the courthouse. The major elements that the worksheet accounts for are: Monthly gross income of the parties; number of children in the marriage; support paid for children of a prior relationship; work related childcare; health insurance costs; number of overnights with each parent; and income tax dependency exemptions.
In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance, or child support, the court may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child of the marriage to pay an amount reasonable or necessary for the child’s support and may order an amount determined to be reasonable under the circumstances for a time period that occurred after the date of the parties’ physical separation or the filing of the petition or service upon the respondent, whichever date is latest, and prior to the entry of the support order, without regard to marital misconduct, after considering all relevant factors.
If the child is mentally or physically disabled, the court or the delegate child support enforcement unit may order child support, including payments for medical expenses or insurance or both, to continue beyond the age of nineteen.
If the child is still in high school or an equivalent program, support continues until the end of the month following graduation, unless there is an order for postsecondary education.
If the court finds that it is appropriate for the parents to contribute to the costs of a program of postsecondary education, then the court shall terminate child support and enter an order requiring both parents to contribute a sum determined to be reasonable for the education expenses of the child. (Colorado Statutes – Article 10 – Sections: 14-10-115, 14-10-117)
Standards for Child Support
In Colorado, child support is based on the Income Shares model and is described in Colorado Rev. Stat. Sections14-10-115 et seq. In considering child support, the court may order reasonable and necessary child support to be paid by either or both parents, without regard to marital fault. In doing so, the court considers:
- the financial resources of the child;
- the financial resources of the custodial parents;
- the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved;
- the physical and emotional conditions and educational needs of the child; and
- the financial resources, needs, and obligations of both the noncustodial and the custodial parent.
Child Support Expenses and Deductions
Extraordinary expenses are either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment, or deductions, where the amount is deducted, and indicated as either mandatory or permissive. Extraordinary medical expenses and provisions for medical insurance and medical care for any children may be ordered.
Support terminates at age 18 or when the child graduates from high school. Child support may continue until a child becomes emancipated, graduates from high school, or it may continue beyond the age of 19 if the child is mentally or physically disabled. Parents cannot be compelled to pay for the college education of their children. Child support must continue through high school graduation, unless certain factors are met.