If you are getting divorced and have children, it’s important to familiarize yourself with Colorado child support laws. Whether you are the parent receiving child support or the one paying it, you should know your rights. Read this article to learn the answers to some frequently asked questions about child support laws.
All legal parents have an obligation to support their children in Colorado. Having 50/50 shared physical care may still require you to pay child support.
However, if one parent has primary physical custody (sometimes called sole custody), Colorado law assumes their child support obligations are already being used on the child. Therefore, the custodial parent does not have to pay child support to the non-custodial parent.
Colorado law aims to designate a fair share of each parent’s resources and income to their children. The following can be included in child support calculations:
- gross income (before taxes) of both parents
- the child’s income (if any)
- the number of overnights the child spends with each parent
- expenses, including health insurance and daycare
It becomes more complicated when parents share physical care of the child. For child support purposes, shared physical care means that each parent keeps the children overnight for more than 92 nights each year and that both parents contribute to the expenses of the children in addition to paying child support. Colo. Revised Statutes § 14-10-115
Still, the parent with the least amount of overnights is considered the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent receives credit based on the number of nights the child stays over with them. The more nights the child spends with the non-custodial parent, the less child support the non-custodial parent has to pay.
If the child stays with both parents equally, the parent with the higher income pays child support to the lower earner.
Colorado’s 1.5 Multiplier
One way Colorado courts calculate child support in shared custody cases is by using the 1.5 multiplier.
Because shared physical care presumes that certain basic expenses for the children will be duplicated, an adjustment is made by multiplying the basic child support obligation by one and a half (1.5.)
Essentially, if each parent has more than 93 overnights with their child, the basic obligation is multiplied by 1.5 before any other adjustments.
It is a common misconception that joint custody means that neither parent must pay child support. The only time a parent is not required to pay child support in Colorado is if they have sole physical custody of their child. However, Colorado courts generally do not favor sole custody arrangements unless abuse or neglect is involved.
Yes. If the child stays overnight with one parent for more than 92 nights a year, their child support obligation may decrease.
Maybe. If that new child is the subject to another court order, it may have an impact on a child support obligation in your case.
A custodial parent’s death does not mean the end of child support. If a divorce decree orders a noncustodial parent to pay child support, that obligation continues beyond the death of the custodial parent if the child goes to live with someone who is not a biological parent. Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 14-10-101 to 14-10-133 (1987, 1988)
Additionally, Colorado law allows an adult to sue the non-custodial parent on the child’s behalf to recover any child support arrears that have accrued since the death of the custodial parent. Abrams v. Connolly, 781 P.2d 651, 652 (Colo. 1989)
If a grandparent is caring for the grandchild under a power of attorney, a guardianship, or conservatorship order, the grandparent must petition the court for child support. If a grandparent’s child support petition is granted, both parents will be responsible for child support.
If a current child support order exists for one parent, it will be attached to the grandparent and another order will be opened with the other parent. This process will occur automatically if the grandparent is receiving TANF and/or Medicaid benefits for their grandchildren. If a grandparent adopts the grandchild, the child’s biological parents will no longer have to pay child support.
Generally, no. Courts understand that life happens. You may lose your job, or unplanned expenses may crop up. A number of unforeseen circumstances could cause you to fall behind on your child support payments. Fortunately, you generally will not lose your parental rights if this happens. However, this does not mean there won’t be any repercussions. You may be held in contempt or subject to garnished wages, but you will still be able to see your child.
No, Colorado law does not allow either parent to waive child support obligations, even if both parents have agreed. Generally, child support obligations only terminate once a child turns 19, graduates from high school, or joins the military.