Support of children is an important aspect of family law. A support provision is set forth in every dissolution action with children. In Colorado, support is based on an income shares approach and continues until age 19 with the exception of:
- The parties have agreed to a longer duration
- The child is mentally or physically disabled
- The child is still in high school
Support can be terminated early if the child becomes emancipated. Emancipation occurs if the child:
- Enters military service
A request for support can be made in a petition for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, dissolution of civil union, allocation of parental responsibilities, and can also be requested alone. If only child support is to be determined, typically Courts defer to the Child Support Enforcement Agency administrative process, particularly if jurisdiction lies in different locales for parenting time and support under federal law.
Courts can make child support retroactive back to the date of filing. If you are not receiving a child support, then you can file for temporary orders which are intended to maintain the status quo until permanent orders issue because it can take some time for the permanent process to resolve.Income Shares Approach
Child support is based on the income or imputed income of the parties. When parties receive W-2 wages, income is usually fairly straightforward. However, in cases of self-employment or cash wages, it can be more difficult to determine income. Child support is impacted by spousal maintenance because maintenance is added to the payee's income for purposes of the child support calculation. Therefore, if spousal maintenance applies, it should be calculated first.Imputed Income
A Court does not have the authority to require a parent to work, however if a parent is unemployed or underemployed, income can be imputed to them. A parent will not have income imputed if they are caring for a child of the parties age 21/2 or younger. Income will also not be imputed to a parent who is physically or mentally incapacitated. When a court imputes income, it calculates child support attributing income to a parent that they are capable of earning, though they are not actually earning it. This increases that parent's share of the child support.
When determining a parent's work capability, a court will consider the circumstances of termination of prior employment as well as job search efforts. A parent is not expected to take any available employment, but rather employment that is suited to them based on their educational and employment background and skills and desires. A court may recognize a parent's good faith career change or pursuit of education leading to improved employment opportunities.Income Documentation
In all dissolution and financial support matters, parties are required to make mandatory disclosures to each other under C.R.C.P 16.2 without request. Part of the disclosure requirement includes a sworn financial statement, income documentation and tax returns. Rule 16.2 does not automatically apply to paternity or independent support actions, though a Court can require the disclosures or a party can request that disclosures be required.Credit For Responsibility To Other Children
A parent with responsibility for other children will have that financial obligation deducted from his or her income for purposes of the child support calculation. This is true even if the child from another relationship lives with the parent or there is no court-ordered obligation but the parent is making voluntary financial contributions. A parent may be required to prove support expenses in such cases.
Are you looking for a Family Law Attorney who understands the importance of financial support? At Janko Family Law we know family law and how to obtain a solution that will turn change into opportunity. Give us a call for a complimentary case assessment at 719-344-5523, or fill out our confidential online intake form.