Frequently Asked Colorado Child Support Questions Part 2
- Can the court use my wife's income for calculating child support?
No. The income of new spouses, or spouses in just a custody case, has no bearing on a child support calculation. However, the cost of a spouse to cover the cost of health insurance for a child may be factored into a child support calculation.
- I have physical custody, do I get to claim the kids for taxes?
Most people who have not been through a divorce with children or a child support case presume that the person who the children reside with the majority of the time gets to claim the children for taxes. People often also presume that the primary breadwinner gets to claim the kids every year. Both assumptions are wrong. Pursuant to Colorado statute, the right to claim the children for income tax dependency exemption purposes is allocated by the court proportionate to the parties’ contributions to raising the kids, meaning their income proportions. For example, if Sally makes $100,000 per year and her husband, Roger, makes $50,000 per year, Sally should be able to claim the child two out of three years, with the cycle rotating similarly thereafter. The actual allocation can be done in different ways, such as splitting up kids and/or alternating years claiming some, or all of them. Our Denver custody and child support lawyers can help you determine an effective and proper allocation of the right to claim your children for dependency exemption purposes. You should be aware of two statutory caveats. If a party does not derive a benefit from claiming a child, he or she cannot claim the child. If the child support payer does not pay all child support due during the tax year he or she is claiming, by the end of that year, he or she loses the right to claim the kid(s) that year. Physical custody has nothing to do with this allocation.
- My orders say 50/50 custody and no child support, but my 14-year-old has moved in full-time with my ex-wife. Does that change my child support?
The answer to this questions begins with a “maybe.” Pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-122(5), child support can be modified retroactively to an agreed upon change in “physical care”, which means custody, of a child. If the parties agreed that the child would live full-time with mother, the proverbial modification meter started ticking from that point. In most instances, a modification of child support can be back to the date the motion is filed, which is helpful since many courts are very slow in terms of getting people in for an actual hearing. The exception is change in custody provision set forth in subsection (5). Of course, the normal child support analysis must be done regarding income, number of overnights, health insurance, etc. In sum, the change in custody could lead to that change in support, back to the date custody changed. This rule is applicable in Denver area divorce cases, as well as custody and child support actions.
- My ex-wife quit her job to go back to school and she wants to raise my child support. Can she do that?
If the court determines that the educational program sought is done in good faith, with the intent of ultimately making more money, most Denver area judges will cut the person going back to school a break in terms of his or her income. This does not mean that judges, and our legal team, are not able to spot career students. We are. However, if the education pursuit is truly determined to be legitimate, the court may very well give someone a pass, including potentially calling his or her income $0.00 per month for child support purposes. C.R.S. 14-10-115 specifically sets forth language regarding the issue of a parent being enrolled in school. Statute also indicates that this cannot unreasonably deprive a child of support. There is no black and white answer and each case must be looked at on an individual basis. Courts will also likely set forth provisions regarding time frames, reporting if school is quit, review upon graduation, etc.
- What is the difference between the Family Support Registry and Child Support Enforcement Unit?
Both the Family Support Registry (FSR) and the Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU) are state-level governmental agencies that deal with collection of child support. As Denver child support attorneys, it is quite common for us to talk to people with mistaken beliefs as to the entities and their roles or functions. The FSR is a state-run central holding tank that receives child support (and alimony) payments from the payers and then distributes the funds out to the payees. The FSR can now distribute payments to the recipient via check, direct deposit, or directly onto an FSR card, which functions much like a credit card. The FSR is also a good tool for keeping track of the child support payment history in your case. In Colorado, if either party to a child support case requests that payments be made through the FSR, the court will grant that request over any objection from the other party. The FSR is not a child support collection agency. It does not deal with enforcement of orders, non-payment, or collection from those who are not paying.
People often presume that the FSR is the same thing as, or a branch, of a county’s CSEU. Each county has its own CSEU, which generally functions in tandem with a special branch of the District Attorney’s office. The CSEU is primarily charged with establishing, modifying, and enforcing child support, and sometimes alimony orders. Any party to a child support case can sign up for CSEU services for a nominal intake fee. Unlike the FSR, the CSEU is the agency which will take various types of measures to see that child support orders are followed, including income assignments, wage garnishment, liens, contempt of court proceedings, tax refund intercepts, and the suspension of driver’s or other professional licenses for non-payment of child support.
The CSEU can also be a helpful tool in terms of tracking finding employment information on someone who is not paying, as it can access Department of Labor records. The CSEU can also assist with transferring child support matters to other states, or enforcing foreign child support orders. Though private attorneys can take many of the same steps, their reach may not be as far as the CSEU and generally does not cross state lines. At the same time, the CSEU may be slower than a private attorney in terms of establishing, modifying, or collecting child support. People signing up for enforcement services may also give up some of their rights in terms of having a say in terms of how much back support is collected.
Main Child Support FAQs