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» Child Support Calculations

» Income Determination

» Connection to Custody

» Impact of Health Insurance

» Impact of Child Care

» Support Enforcement (and Defense) 

» Child Support Modification

» Child Support Deviation  

» Special Needs Considerations

» Retroactive Child Support

» Child Support Debt Interest

» Special Issues

Providing legal advice, navigating the court system, calculation of child, support and representing your interests at settlement and in court if needed.   Guidance is given concerning the issues below and more.

Colorado child Support Faqs

Table of Contents


What is Child Support in Colorado?

Child support is periodic payments (usually monthly)  by one parent to another parent, pursuant to a court order to help offset the costs of child-rearing.  This would not normally apply to parents who live together as it is assumed they are both contributing in some fair manner for the child’s benefit.

How Do I Get a Child Support Order?

You need to ask the court for child support to get an order.  This can be done through a divorce or legal separation, custody or paternity case, or even as a separate child support case.  Jeff will draft and file all of these.

How Long Does Child Support Last in Colorado (Emancipation)?

Colorado child support continues until the child turns 19 years of age in Colorado, with a few exceptions.  This emancipation age is different from other laws which consider 18 to be the emancipation age.  

Are There Situations Where Child Support Can Still Be Ordered After the Child Turns 19?

Yes.  Child support can be continued if the child is still in high school (up to the age of 21), is mentally or physically disabled, or there is a written agreement approved by the judge to do so.

Can Child Support Be Terminated Before the Child Turns 19?

Yes. The child will be considered emancipated if the child marries, enters active military duty, or becomes legally emancipated.

Does Child Support Automatically Terminate When the Child Turns 19 or Do I need to File a Motion?

If it is your last or only child that turns 19, child support will automatically terminate.  Otherwise, a motion will need to be filed.  This means the child support for both children will continue when the older one turns 19 unless a motion is filed to modify the support.


How is Child Support Calculated in Colorado?

Colorado considers several factors including the number of children, incomes of the parents, and parenting time.  Colorado has published child support guidelines that provide a recommended child support amount based on these factors.  There are child support calculators that use the factors to show the recommended amount.  The big picture here is an attempt to base child support on the proportion of income, parenting time and expenses that the parents spend with respect to the children.  Jeff helps you with this.

How Are the Parents’ Incomes Determined For Child Support Purposes?

The gross incomes of both parents are looked at. This includes wages, bonuses, commissions, regular cash gifts and any other sources of income.  To get at this, the parents have a financial face-off in court.  Tax returns, W-2s, pay stubs, bank statements, investment account statements – all need to be given to each other.  You have to let the judge know that you gave these to the other side, and if you don’t do it, you can get into a heap of trouble.  This trading of financial information with each other is called financial disclosures in court.  It’s an issue that a lot of parties fight about.  And the judge doesn’t have much patience with a party that doesn’t do what they are supposed to here.  Many times, the parties don’t even know that they’re doing anything wrong.  But with the sworn financial statements that need to be filed along with a certificate of compliance with Rule 16.2 disclosures, you can find yourself lost before you even start down that path.  Here is a form that shows you some of the things you need to give to the other side – Mandatory Disclosures Form.  Jeff helps you take care of all of this, including advocating for you when it comes to income disagreements. 

Also, income can be imputed on a parent who is unemployed or underemployed who is found to be shirking a child support obligation.

How Does Parenting Time Affect Child Support?

In general, the more annual parenting time overnights a parent has, the more child support they will get (or the less they will need to pay).  For example, one parent will get more child support if they have 300 overnights versus 250 overnights.  Likewise, one parent will pay less child support if they have 150 overnights versus 100 overnights.  Each single additional overnight in a year can affect child support.  However, the child support amount with respect to overnights will be treated the same if a parent has between zero and 92 overnights.  This means that the parent will pay the same support whether they have zero or 92 overnights with the child.  The support calculations start to change once the 93 overnight number is reached.  You can see how child support considerations like these may affect how parents view the parenting time they want.

How Does the Number of Children Affect Child Support?

As you might expect, child support increases with the number of children involved.  However, the amount of child support for 2 children is not double that of one.  The amount depends on Colorado child support guidelines calculation.

What Happens if a Parent is Already Paying Child Support for Another Child?

That parent will receive an adjustment which will affect the child support amount. 

How Does Spousal Support Affect Child Support?

Spousal support, or alimony, is treated as income to the party receiving it.  This income is added to whatever income the receiving party is already making.

How Do Special Children’s Expenses Affect Child Support?

Childcare and health care costs for the children are factored in, as well as certain educational, special needs, and travel expenses for parenting time. 



Can a Child Support Order Be Zero or No Child Support?

Yes.  The judge can even make it zero if the amount is relatively small and the parties agree.  The judge can even make it zero if the amount is not that small, but one parent is providing a substantial financial benefit for the child that was not otherwise taken into account.

Can a Parent With More Parenting Time Still Have to Pay Child support?

Yes.  For example, as of the time of this writing, the guidelines recommend that a parent, who makes $8,000 a month with 200 overnights with two children would pay $219.65 per month to the other parent, who makes $5,000 a month with the remaining 165 overnights with the children.  

How is Child Support Determined for Multiple Children on Different Schedules?

If there is a different parenting time schedule for multiple children (one schedule is different from the other), you should know that the usual way to calculate the overnight number is to add all the overnights together and then divide by the number of children.  So, if a parent has 200 overnights with one child and 100 overnights with another child, then that parent has 150 overnights with 2 children for guideline purposes.  Regardless of the scenario, Jeff will run the calculations for you.

Is the Court Required to Follow the Colorado Child Support Guidelines Recommended Support Amount?

No.  But the judge will follow the guidelines unless there is some good reason to deviate from them.  Jeff will examine your case to determine whether you should request a deviation from the guidelines to help you financially.  

Can a Parent Be Ordered to Provide Health Insurance?

Yes.  In fact, the judge is required to make orders that provide for the children’s medical, dental and vision needs.  This will mean that one or both parents will be ordered to insure the children.

Who Gets to Claim the Children on Taxes?

Unless the parents agree otherwise, the Court allocates the dependency exemptions, usually based on a percentage share of income.  Thus, if the parents make 4k and 2k per month respectively, the first parent will claim the exemption 2 out of every 3 years, because that parent is presumably provided a ⅔ share for the support obligation.  The 4k is two-thirds of the total 6k of the parties’ combined income.

Can the Court Order College Expenses to Be Paid?

No, unless the parents agree to it.



When Can Child Support Be Modified in Colorado?

Child support orders can be modified when there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances. This change in circumstances must result in at least a 10 percent change in the monthly child support amount to be considered as substantial.  Some examples include a change in income, parenting time, children’s expenses, emancipation of the child.

Can I Get Retroactive Child Support in Colorado?

Yes, you can, depending on the circumstances.  Retroactive child support refers to child support payments that are ordered for a period before the formal child support order is established. In Colorado, as in many other jurisdictions, retroactive child support may be awarded under certain circumstances.  However, retroactive child support is not automatic, and the Court will decide whether and to what extent to provide it.  Depending on the circumstances, retroactive child support can be ordered back to the filing of the request for support, the date the child was born, or when there was an agreed or ordered change in parenting time.

How Can a colorado Child Support Order Be Enforced?

One way is through child support services.  Every county has a child support services department that assists in helping you collect child support.  Just do a web search for your county and child support services.  The upside to using these services is that they are very inexpensive and someone else is handling it for you.  Further, you may have more remedies available to you if you use these services.  The downside is that the process takes a long time.

Another way is to file a motion for contempt for failure to pay child support.  You can do this on your own or retain an attorney, but you should know that there are very strict rules in this area.  Further, there are different types of contempt (punitive and remedial), and each have their own rules.  Jeff can provide strong representation for you no matter what side you are on.