Frequently Asked Colorado Child Support Questions Part 1

  1. How is child support determined?

    Child support is determined based on several factors. The primary ones are the incomes of each party, the number of children, the number of overnights (if over 93 per year) for the non-custodial parent, day care (if any), and health insurance costs for the children. The factors are all plugged into a software program and the amount of monthly child support is generated. The software used by attorneys is based on a formula and child support table set forth in C.R.S. 14-10-115. Child support is generally not based on expenses or property. Though the statutory formula is a reflection of what the legislature has determined to be the dollar amount(s) needed to raise a child, the actual "needs" of a child are not generally an issue argued in court. In most instances, the court will follow the statutory guidelines, barring extreme circumstances.

  2. How long do I have to pay child support?

    Unless a child is still in high school (up to age 21), or is disabled to the point of being unable to take care of himself or herself, child support runs until the child turns 19 years of age. If the child enters the military before then or truly becomes self-sufficient, child support may terminate prior due to the child's "emancipation.” In instances where a court order from another state is registered in Colorado for modification or enforcement purposes, the age from the original state will govern.

  3. Does my husband owe child support from when we separated?

    No. In a divorce case, the duty to pay child support starts from either the date of the filing of the case by the party who is to pay child support or service of the petition and summons on the person who is to pay child support. Both of these events give the court jurisdiction over the payer. The same holds true for a custody case. In a paternity case, child support, including birthing costs, can be assessed all the way back to the birth of the child. These points of law are important for both parties to know in terms of when the proverbial financial clock starts ticking.

  4. Can the court make me pay for college?

    No. As of July 1, 1997, Colorado courts could no longer force a party to pay for college in any new cases or in cases done prior to that date in which college was not ordered. However, if a party to a child support case, or divorce or custody case, agrees via a written agreement submitted to the court to be responsible for all or part of college costs, a court will generally hold that person to that agreement. See C.R.S. 14-10-115.

  5. I bought a new house and car and my payments have doubled, so I can't afford my child support. Can I get it changed?

    No. Courts do not generally factor in personal expenses for child support purposes. Child support has nothing to do with one's personal expense or whether he can afford to pay. Most courts view the child support guideline amounts as binding and what should be paid. A child support payer should always factor in his or her monthly child support payment as the most important expense when budgeting or taking on new financial obligations.
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