Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in Child Support

Published on:

chart-1238452By: Stephen J. Plog

As indicated in many previous Plog & Stein blog posts, Colorado Revised Statutes indicate that parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their children.   This requirement is manifested in child support orders flowing from child custody, divorce, or stand-alone child support cases.  Monthly child support amounts are calculated pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-115 and pursuant to a table or formula which is essentially based on the parents’ combined incomes and the number of children to be supported.   Statute expressly caps the formula at a combined adjusted gross income for the parents at $30,000 per month or $360,000 per year.  Where does this leave high income families with a combined monthly income over the $30,000 cap?

In cases in which the parents’ combined gross monthly income is over $30,000, the court has various options available to it, though it cannot enter a child support order below what it would be at exactly $30,000 combined income, unless it has a good reason to deviate from the guidelines.  Specifically, C.R.S. 14-10-115 (7)(a)(II)(E) states, “The judge may use discretion to determine child support in circumstances where combined adjusted gross income exceeds the uppermost levels of the schedule of basic child support obligation; except that the presumptive basic child support obligation shall not be less than it would be based on the highest level of adjusted gross income set forth in the schedule of basic child support obligation.”   While a minimum amount is clearly set by statute, an amount above that minimum is squarely up to the judge presiding over the case, as reiterated or clarified in a recent Colorado child support case. Continue reading

Published on:

law-library-1241321By: Jessica A. Saldin

One of our recent blog posts detailed some fairly significant changes to the Colorado child support law as relates to the consideration of voluntary unemployment and underemployment.  However, those changes are not the only changes passed by the legislature.  This article will detail some of the additional changes recently made to the Colorado child support law.  

The changes to the voluntarily unemployment/underemployment section are the primary 2019 changes.  The only other 2019 change requires parties filing a verified entry of support judgment (a method by which to enforce child support orders) to send such to all parties.  That being said, the legislature has preemptively enacted changes to go into effect in 2020, which will be discussed further below.

The 2019 changes are immediate and affect all child support proceedings.  Specifically, the law states that it “shall apply to all child support obligations, established or modified, as a part of any proceeding…regardless of when filed” (C.R.S. 14-10-115(1)(c)).  In other words, if you filed a divorce case two months ago, the current child support law, including all recent changes, affect your case (new law, not old law applies).  This could cause a multitude of difficulties for individuals facing potential underemployment claims.  For example, if you were not working at the time your case was filed because you were caring for a child twenty-five months of age, you would not have been considered voluntarily unemployed at the time the case was filed; but, due to recent statutory changes, you now could be considered voluntarily unemployed.  As the changes are very recent, it is yet to be seen how judges will take this into consideration, if at all.

Beyond the 2019 changes to the child support law, there are additional changes coming July 1, 2020.  One such change was to amend the description of adjustments to gross income, including the descriptions of the low income adjustments.  Most notably, the minimum monthly amount of child support, when the paying party’s monthly adjusted gross income was less than $1,100, was $50.  Starting July 1, 2020, when the paying party’s monthly adjusted gross income is less than $650, the minimum amount of child support is only $10 per month.  Starting July 1, 2020, the table of child support amounts will also be adjusted.

Additionally, starting July 1, 2020, the child support law codifies child support cases law regarding how support is calculated when there are two or more children subject to the child support calculation but each child has a different number of overnights with each parent.  Prior to this case, there was case law that explained how overnight parenting time should be calculated, but it was not clearly laid out in the law.  Starting July 1, 2020, the law will clarify the way to calculate the number of overnights.  Specifically, you will add together the number of overnights for each child, then divide that number by the number of children included on the worksheet.  For example, if a parent has 104 scheduled overnights per year with two out of the three children and 182 scheduled overnights per year with the other child, you would add up all the overnights (104+104+182) and divide by 3 to arrive at the number of overnights to use on the worksheet.  For this scenario, you would then run a child support worksheet for three children with the parent having the average,130, scheduled overnights per year. Continue reading

Published on:

law-education-series-3-1467430-300x226By: Stephen J. Plog

As July 1 soon approaches, it’s that time of year again when revisions to Colorado statutes often come into effect.  Family law statutes related to divorce, child custody, and child support are no exception to this phenomenon.   While things do not generally change too radically, even simple, nuanced changes can have an impact on family law cases.   In this blog post, I will discuss changes to the primary Colorado child support statute, C.R.S. 14-10-115, which go into effect in 2019.  Interestingly, the 2019 version of statute also references changes which will go into effect in 2020.  I will leave those changes to another blog post, to be drafted by one of our other attorneys, Jessica Saldin. Continue reading

Published on:

money-money-money-1241634-300x226By:  Michelle L. Searcy

At the most basic level, the Colorado child support calculation is based on the combined income of the parents, the number of children and the number of overnights exercised by each parent in Colorado.  Calculating income for a parent with a job that issues a W-2 is a fairly straight forward process.  However, less traditional forms of income have the potential to complicate calculating child support.  One of the more difficult issues in determining child support occur when a disability occurs with parents, step-parents, or children.  This article addresses those issues under the child support statute, section 14-10-115, C.R.S.

However, death and disability payments are treated differently depending on who is disabled (or deceased) and who is the named recipient of the benefit.  These distinctions determine whether the benefit is considered as income to the parent, income to the child, or an offset against a child support obligation.  As set forth below, the interplay between child support and social security benefits can be somewhat complex. Continue reading

Published on:


It is not a common occurrence to have individuals separating immediately around the time of the birth of a child, but it does happen.  When parties are married, this child support and custody issues are usually through the courts via a dissolution of marriage (divorce case).  But what happens to those situations where the parties were never married, or maybe even never together in a relationship? Often times the issue and concern of birth and pregnancy related medical expenses can arise as a financially important issue that requires resolution through the courts as well. Most often these issue of allocating birth and pregnancy costs is something that arises in a paternity case under Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 19.

Most people who share children, but were never married will file what is called an allocation of parental responsibilities (custody) case,  in which issues of parenting time, decision-making, and child support will be dealt with.  These types of cases governed under Title 14 of the Colorado Revised Statute and the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act.  Don’t let the Act fool you, the Section still applies to parties that were never married when going through a APR case.  In regular APR or custody situations, the paternity of the child is not in question and the case can be filed anytime between the birth of the child and the age of emancipation (18).   You cannot file a standard custody case prior to the birth of the child in anticipation of custody issues that may arise thereafter.  However, what is important for expectant mothers contemplating separation, new mothers who have separated from the other parent, and even mothers with young children who have not filed anything with the biological father to know is that  there is no statutory authority for an award of birth related and pregnancy related expenses when you file a case under C.R.S. Title 14.  Pursuant to In Re Custody of Garcia, 695 P.2d 774 (Colo. App. 1984), a case filed under C.R.S. §14-10-123, the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act, which encompasses APR cases, the trial court does not have jurisdiction to make an award of medical expenses associated with the pregnancy/birth of the minor child.  Continue reading

Published on:

school-4-1514478-300x226By:  Jessica A. Saldin

There are many issues related to education and school that must be considered as part of a divorce case.  Prior blog posts have discussed some of these issues.  This post is specifically focused on private schooling and how the issue may be treated as part of your divorce case.  There are several questions that you may have if you are considering private schooling for your children while going through a divorce.  

One of the first questions may be, “can I enroll my children in a private school?”  This question is related to general questions about educational decision making responsibility.  Courts in Colorado tend to find that joint decision making responsibility is in a child’s best interests unless there are specific circumstances that cause the court to find otherwise (for example, in situations of domestic violence, if one parent refuses to communicate regarding decisions, etc.).  Therefore, if you already have orders delegating educational decision making responsibility, the decision of the school in which you enroll the child must be made in accordance with the delegation in your orders.  If you do not have orders regarding decision making, it is always best to try to reach an agreement with the other parent.  Even if there is not an order requiring joint decision making responsibility, courts prefer to see parties that try to reach decisions jointly.  Simply making a unilateral decision can adversely affect the decision making orders the court eventually enters.  However, you also need to keep in mind that, if you are requesting sole decision making responsibility because of domestic violence, lack of responses from the other parent, etc., if a joint decision is made on the issue that could be considered by the court as evidence that joint decision making responsibility is best for the minor child. Continue reading

Published on:

In a divorce case, a higher income earning spouse may be “on the hook”  to pay maintenance (alimony) and child support. There are divorces, however, in which this higher income earning spouse is in his or her sixties and nearing retirement age. Some dads have children when they are in their fifties, or later. In other cases, a divorcing couple, after a longer term marriage, splits up after their children are adults, thereby leaving spousal maintenance as the sole support issue to be determined.  The question arises in these cases as to whether that higher income earning spouse is going to be able to retire when reaching retirement age or whether the law requires that spouse to keep the income rolling in regardless of that his or her age.  Prior to changes in statute, there was already case law supporting the notion that there was a valid correlation between retirement and modifying support obligations. Statute now codifies such notions.

The Colorado Legislature has addressed this issue in C.R.S. 14-10-122, which states:

“…(b)  A payor spouse whose income is reduced or terminated due to his or her retirement after reaching full retirement age is entitled to a rebuttable presumption that the retirement is in good faith.(c)  For purposes of this subsection (2), “full retirement age” means the payor’s usual or ordinary retirement age when he or she would be eligible for full United States social security benefits, regardless of whether he or she is ineligible for social security benefits for some reason other than attaining full retirement age. “Full retirement age” shall not mean “early retirement age” if early retirement is available to the payor spouse, nor shall it mean “maximum benefit retirement age” if additional benefits are available as a result of delayed retirement.”

Published on:

By:  Jessica A. Saldin

Starting August 8, 2018, there will some statutory changes being made to the Colorado Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (the main statute/law that governs Colorado divorce and custody cases).  As these changes may have major impacts on your divorce or custody case, it is important to know what they are.  A few of the statutes are undergoing minor word changes, which are not being discussed in this article.  The major changes, which will be the primary focus of this article, affect the statutes governing spousal maintenance and child support.

C.R.S. 14-10-114 is the statute that governs maintenance (often called spousal support or alimony).  As discussed in a prior blog post, the federal tax code is changing in 2019, with an impact on how maintenance payments are treated for tax purposes.  It used to be that a payor’s maintenance payments were tax deductible to the payor and a recipient’s maintenance payments had to be claimed on the recipient’s taxes as income.  Starting in 2019, the recipient will not have to declare maintenance payments as income; however, the paying party will not get a deduction for maintenance paid.  As mentioned in the prior post, such was anticipated to have an effect on Colorado’s maintenance law because the formula was created with the understanding that maintenance would be tax deductible and taxable, respectively.  As anticipated, the Colorado legislature has made changes to Colorado’s maintenance law to account for these federal tax changes. Continue reading

Published on:

Plog & Stein, P.C.

In my career as a family law attorney, I have seen a lot of problems between divorced spouses as they relate to costs associated with minor children’s school and/or extracurricular expenses. Many divorce orders or separation agreements contain provisions for the parties to share expenses of school and extracurricular activities.  As with many things in life, however, the devil is in the details, and ambiguities in what qualifies an appropriate expense, and then how reimbursements are to occur result in conflict, mischief, and ultimately litigation. It is incumbent on parties (and to their attorneys) to button down with specificity which expenses are to be split and procedures for reimbursement  to avoid problems.

The legal basis for the division of such costs derive from the child support statute, C.R.S. § 14-10-115.  As articulated in the Colorado Appeals Court case of In re: Marriage of Laughlin, 932 P.2d 858 (Colo. App. 1995) “The case-by-case determination of child support with which a trial court is charged must include a consideration of factors related to a child’s standard of living and additional needs. Such factors include recreational costs. In re Marriage of LeBlanc, 800 P.2d 1384 (Colo.App.1990); § 14-10-115(1), C.R.S. (1987 Repl.Vol. 6B). In addition, this court has recognized that fees associated with athletic activities can either qualify as educational expenses under § 14-10-115(11)(I) or provide a basis under § 14-10-115(3)(a), C.R.S. (1996 Cum.Supp.) for the deviation from the presumed amount of support. See In re Marriage of Ansay, 839 P.2d 527 (Colo.App.1992). The trial court’s post-hearing orders contain sufficient findings to satisfy us that inclusion of the ice skating fees was warranted here. See In re Marriage of Nielsen, 794 P.2d 1097 (Colo.App.1990) (trial court has discretion to deviate from the guidelines where justified provided it makes appropriate findings).”  Per statute, once such fees are identified as being appropriately factored into the child’s overall need, those fees are to be split in proportion to the parties’ incomes. Continue reading

Published on:

By: Jessica A. Bryant

When in the middle of a divorce or custody case one aspect that often gets less consideration than some of the immediate issues/concerns is how to handle the children’s post-secondary/college expenses.  Child support in Colorado ends at the age of 19 unless the child emancipates before the age of 19 (becomes legally emancipated, marries, or if the child enters active military duty).  Due to the nature of divorce and custody cases, often parties are focused on the here and now, instead of the future.  

Under Colorado law, for any child support orders after July 1, 1997, unless the child is determined to be mentally or physically disabled, or unless the child is still in high school (but not beyond the age of twenty-one), a court does not have the authority to order any child support payments or other payments for the benefit of the child beyond the age of 19.  This includes the court lacking authority, under child support and divorce statutes, to forcibly order either parent to pay for college (whether the child is under 19 or not).  However, parents are always free to agree to provide for the children’s post-secondary (college) expenses and can do so via written agreement, filed with the court.  That agreement will be every bit as legally binding and enforceable as any other court orders.

Continue reading