Child Support Lawyer
When couples separate or divorce, provisions must be made for support of the children. Colorado has Child Support Guidelines that are used to determine the amount. Parties can also agree to higher amounts or ask the Court to deviate from the guidelines to award a higher amount. As in all divorce and family law matters, either the parties can agree to a resolution through negotiation or mediation, or a proceeding becomes contested and the Court can decide a resolution.Child Support Guidelines
The legal standard for child support is set forth in the Colorado Child Support Guidelines which use an income shares approach and take into account the number of overnights with a parent, allowing for income proportional add-on expenses, such as those for work-related childcare, medical, and certain educational and travel expenses. The support calculation will vary depending on whether one parent has primary residential custody or whether the parents have joint residential custody. To have joint residential custody, the children must spend at least 92 overnights with both parents annually.Income Shares Approach
An income shares approach means that all income is totaled, and then the monthly support amount is determined proportionally according to each parent's income. As part of the child support process, each party is required to make financial disclosure to the other so that child support calculations can be based of full knowledge of each parent’s financial situation.
Income is verified by examining past W-2's and other financial documents. The Court can make deviations from the guidelines to award higher amounts of support in appropriate cases. For example, the Court can consider the standard of living the child would have had if the marriage not been dissolved and potentially order a higher amount than the guidelines might determine if the opposing party has sufficient financial ability to pay the higher amount. However, there is no automatic presumption that just because a party can pay more that they should pay.Length of Payment Time
Usually child support in Colorado is paid until a child turns 19. However, if a child is mentally or physically disabled, the Court may order child support including payments for medical expenses or insurance or both to continue longer. Also, if a child is still in high school or a General Equivalency Diploma program, support continues until the end of the month following graduation. This helps to ensure that the child has a foundation for becoming self-sufficient upon adulthood. Additionally, a Colorado Court can integrate parental agreement for the payment of college costs into a decree.Child Centered Approach
When children are involved, it is important to remain focused on their best interests. It is helpful to keep in mind that you may be interacting with the other parent regarding such matters as education, healthcare and religion potentially for many years to come. Therefore, it benefits all involved for parents to have civil interactions in negotiating decisions for their children despite their differences and sometimes high emotions. That is why it is important to have an attorney who can be an intermediary to work towards constructive solutions. Additionally, mediation is often required for initial orders and modifications involving children when parents have difficulty coming to agreement.
If you are looking for a dependable guide to lead you through difficult and unfamiliar divorce and family law terrain, contact me at 719-344-5523, or by using the online contact form. I am looking forward to navigating a route with you.