When a child is born to an unmarried couple, or when parents get a divorce or separate, child support is likely to become an issue.
While many aspects of family law in Colorado are complex, determining child support payments is relatively straightforward. This is thanks to clear guidelines set by the Colorado Legislature. Understanding the guidelines will give you an indication of how much child support you may have to pay or how much child support you may receive.
The Factors That Determine Child Support Payments
According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, the primary factor used to calculate child support payments is the gross monthly income of each spouse and general information about what intact families spend on raising a child.
Other factors include:
- Number of overnights with each parent
- Childcare costs
- Medical costs
When Deviation From The Guidelines Is Appropriate
The child support guidelines are intended to work in most situations. However, there may be situations in which deviation from the guidelines is appropriate.
The CDHS gives the example of a low-income adjustment when the paying spouse’s gross income is between $900 and $1,900 a month. Furthermore, deviation may be appropriate when one parent earns a particularly high income.
Other reasons for deviation may include children with special needs.
Is It As Simple As It Seems?
While child support guidelines may be clear, there is much more to ensuring fair payments than simply following the guidelines. The numbers used to calculate child support payments must be accurate.
If the wrong amount of gross monthly income is used, for example, the calculation will be off. This may seem unlikely, but for some people, gross monthly income is not as clear as it is for others. When one or both parents work multiple jobs, are self-employed or have investment income, it becomes much more important to ensure that the numbers are right and nothing is overlooked. This is where it can be particularly beneficial to work with an experienced family law attorney.