Frequently Asked Colorado Child Support Questions Part 5

  1. Will the county child support enforcement unit help me collect back medical bills?

    No. Child support enforcement units are only charged with enforcing orders for actual “child support,” and collecting such. In some counties, the unit will also assist with collection of alimony (maintenance) if there is also a child support order. Though medical bills for children are certainly child support related, they are not actual “child support,” unless the orders or agreement specifically say they are. If compensation for medical bills is owed, one can file a separate motion with the court regarding them. This can include contempt of court or other remedies. If the issue of non-reimbursement is chronic and there are known recurring monthly medical expense for the child(ren), a party could seek a modification of child support to get the monthly amount included into the child support calculation. At that point, the child support enforcement until could assist, as the medical bills are now part of the actual child support calculation. Child support enforcement units will also not assist with other child support related issues, such as getting orders entered regarding payment of activities or dealing with allocation of the right to claim children for dependency exemption purposes. These are issues one will need to deal with on his or her own or with our careful assistance.

  2. If we have 50/50 parenting time, do I have to pay child support?

    The answer to this question depends on the facts of the case. The amount of Colorado child support to be paid, established pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-115, depends on various factors, including the incomes of the parties, number of children, health insurance and child care costs, and, of course, the number of overnights with the children. Often, people presume that because they have equal parenting time neither of them should have to pay child support. This is just not the case. The primary factor in a child support calculation is income. If the parties truly had almost identical income and there were either no insurance or child care costs, or those roughly offset each other, then the bottom line child support amount might be zero, or negligible. However, if one party makes significantly more than the other, such as $200,000 per year for one party and $50,000 for the other, there will be a child support amount owed based on the disparity of income. Likewise, if the parties have equal income, but one is paying $1000 per month in child care, the child support calculation, and worksheet that is generated, would have the second party compensating the first for his or her half of that child care expense. Thus, there is more that goes into the analysis than just “50/50 time.” Again, child support is based on a formula and, absent a good reason, parties and courts are generally not going to deviate from that formula and the end result amount.

  3. Have the child support guideline amounts gone up?

    Since January 1, 2014, the child support guideline amounts have gone up. In lay terms, the Colorado legislature amended C.R.S. 14-10-115 by changing the amount reflected in statute that it takes to support a child, or children. In most instances, the amount determined to be needed to support a child went up. For example, in 2008, the amount of support a parent making roughly $100,000 per year would owe for two children, with the other parent making approximately $2000 per month ($24,000 per year) might generate a monthly child support figure owed of $1399. Pursuant to the 2014 amended guidelines, that amount has increased to $1530 per month. Guideline amounts change over time based on inflation and a reflection of the fact that it becomes more costly to meet the day-to-day needs of children. Oddly, though costs have gone up, incomes for most people have not. Using the example above, in 2008, the guidelines indicate that parties making a combined income of $124,000 per year, or $10,333, would have a combined support obligation of $1735. 96 per month, which is split between them proportionate to their incomes. The 2014 guidelines indicate a combined monthly support obligation of $1897.94. Thus, the payer’s monthly child support obligation is $130 higher in 2014 than it would have been in 2013. C.R.S. 14-10-115 does indicate that the change in guideline amounts, standing alone, is not a basis to seek a modification of child support.

  4. Can I put my kids on my new wife’s health insurance?

    Generally, the answer to this question is, “yes.” Statute requires that if health insurance is available at a reasonable rate, one of the parties must provide such for the children. The monthly cost for covering the children’s health insurance needs is one of the figures generally added into a child support calculation. As people split up, or divorce, and move on, they often remarry. As people remarry, situations can arise in which the person required, under court order, to provide health insurance, has a new spouse who may be able to provide it for less, or may be able to provide it should the obligor lose his or her job and the ability to provide coverage. Statute does not prohibit a party required to provide health insurance for the children from obtaining such through his or her new spouse. The law, and Denver area divorce courts, recognize that families evolve and that the end goal is meeting the children’s needs, regardless of who might be the actual policy holder on an insurance plan. Of course, a new spouse’s plan should be similar in coverage to a prior plan. Additionally, the other party’s insurance options should be looked into as well. So long as there is adequate coverage, less cost for monthly premiums will ultimately mean monetary savings for both parties.

  5. Can I make my ex pay for private school?

    Generally, the answer is, “no.” Colorado child support statutes center on the norm, which is usually public schools. In a joint decision-making situation in which people share joint legal custody, each has veto power as to major decisions. Thus, for a child to attend private school, the parties must agree. Even in a situation in which one parent has sole decision making, a court is not going to force the other to pay for private school, absent a provable agreement between the parties or vast financial resources. However, there are instances in which a court will order that children attend private school and that the cost be split equally. We have seen instances in which the children attend private school prior to the time the parties separate and file a case. In such instances, assuming there are adequate financial resources for such, a court will generally order that the children remain at their private school(s) and that the parties split the cost proportionate to income. In such instances, the party paying, or both parties, will be allowed to include what he or she pays for private schooling as an “extraordinary expense” on the child support worksheet. Inclusion of this cost can lower or raise child support, depending upon whether the payer or payee is paying for school.
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