Child support in Colorado is based off of worksheet calculations (governed by specific guidelines/formulas set forth in the statute, 14-10-115). One factor that impacts child support calculations is the number of overnights each parent has with the children. For many cases, all children are on the same schedule. In those situations, you take the number of scheduled overnights each parent has with the children and enter such onto the worksheet. However, in many other cases, one schedule may not work for all the children. The question then becomes, how do you calculate child support when the children are on different schedules? Before reviewing the situations below, there are a few definitions that will be helpful:
- Primary care/custody is when one parent has less than 92 scheduled overnights per year with the children. This is commonly referred to as a “Worksheet A” situation.
- Shared care/custody: This is when both parents have more than 92 scheduled overnights per year with the children. This is commonly referred to as a “Worksheet B” situation.
With these definitions in mind, there are few different complex scenarios Denver child support attorneys might see:
- Split custody (i.e., each parent has primary care of one or more of the children): In this case, you run separate worksheets for each household and off-set the child support amounts. For example, in a household of three children- if mother has primary care of children A and B and father has primary care of child C, you run one child support worksheet for children A and B, and one child support worksheet for child C. If the first worksheet comes out with father owing mother $600 per month and the second worksheet comes out with mother owing father $200 per month, overall, father would owe mother $400 per month in child support.
- Combination of primary and shared custody (i.e, one or more children live primarily with one parent and the other child or children share time between both parents): In this case, you would still run separate worksheets for each household and off-set; however, instead of having two worksheet As being compared, you would have one worksheet A and one worksheet. For example, in a household of three children- if father has primary care of children A and B and the parents have equal time (fifty-fifty) with child C, you would run a child support worksheet for children A and B with mom at less than 92 overnights, and then a separate worksheet for child C with 183/182 scheduled overnights for the parents. If the first worksheet comes out with mother owing father $600 per month, and the second worksheet comes out with mother owing father $50 per month, mother’s total child support obligation would be $650.
- Different shared custody schedules (i.e., both parents have more than 92 scheduled overnights with all children but the children are on different schedules): In this case, you calculate the number of overnights for each parent by using a ratio. For example, in a household of three children, if the parents share 50/50 time for children A and B, but father only has Friday to Monday three weeks out of every month with child C you would only run one worksheet but list father’s overnights as 157 (father has 182 overnights with 2 out of three children so you multiple 182 by 2/3; father has 108 overnights with 1 out of three children so you multiple 108 by 1/3 and add the two numbers together).
In today’s modern world, it is not uncommon to have a case where the parenting time schedule that may work for one child does not work for the other child so it is important to know how to accurately calculate child support for any potential parenting time scenario. The software for the child support worksheets is available on the Colorado Court website so you can run the scenarios that apply in your case to understand what child support may be. The number of overnights is only one of many factors used to calculate child support, though. If there are also questions of income or other child support calculations, there are other child support blog posts that can help determine what numbers to put in for those factors.