Child Support Attorney
"The primary variables in any child support calculation are gross monthly income and parenting time."
What is Child Support?
Since Colorado utilizes a presumptive formula for child support, people mistakenly believe that it is straightforward and easy to resolve.
Families often break up because of financial issues, which get even worse when parties separate and have to support their children in separate households. Even though child support is the right of the child, parties often struggle to agree on child support related issues, which include basic support, insurance premiums, daycare, and tax deductions, to name a few.
The primary variables in any child support calculation are,
gross monthly income and parenting time. That is where the most conflict arises. Parents often want more parenting time to avoid paying child support or to receive more child support, without considering what schedule would be best for the children. Cases that involve typical hourly or salary wages are the easiest to resolve. However, self-employment, commissions, overtime, and bonuses are some of the income-related issues that plague many cases. Income from self-employment is generally determined by deducting ordinary and necessary business expenses from gross revenue. Commissions are usually averaged over 3 or more years. Overtime is usually included if it is either routine or a condition of employment. Bonuses are included if they are guaranteed or very regular.
The child support guidelines apply to cases where the parents’ combined monthly income is less than $300,000 per year. That means, the most conflict arises when one or both parents have no income or really high income. If the Court believes that a party is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the Court may impute income to a party that is consistent with their earning potential. A party may avoid imputation if they are caring for a child less than 18 months old or if they are enrolled in a qualified education program and not intentionally shirking their responsibility to support their children.
Parents may receive credit on the child support worksheet for certain expenses they pay for their children such as health insurance, work or education related daycare, and uninsured expenses. However, private school tuition, cars and other luxury items, and post-secondary education are generally not included absent a mutual agreement.
Under Colorado Law, allowable expenses that are not included in the calculation of child support are generally paid in proportion to income. Tax dependency exemptions are also divided in proportion to income. However, the 2018 changes in the tax code have suspended dependency exemptions for children until 2025.
You may visit the State of Colorado’s website here for a child support calculator. Otherwise, our attorneys have extensive experience in even the most complex child support issues.
How is child support calculated?
If two parents are unable to reach an agreement on child support, they both have the option to seek counsel from a child support attorney and have the details of their case determined by a judge in family court. There are state-specific guidelines that dictate how the judge should calculate the percentage of support to be paid by the non-custodial parent.
In the state of Colorado, the courts will review what’s known as a “child support calculator”, which is a document completed by both parents to get a rough estimate of how much support each person is expected to contribute towards the care of the child. While both parents can agree on an alternate amount, they will be required to prove that the new amount will adequately support the needs of the child.
Is child support mandatory?
Regardless of whether two people decide to stay together or not, they both have an obligation to provide financial support to cover the basic needs of their children. Child support isn’t a gift to the other parent, it is money that is owed to the child for their care.
However, parents are only legally required to provide support for their own kids. If the parents were married at the time that the children were conceived, the court will presume that both are the natural parents of any children born during the marriage and rule on a child support order accordingly.
If children were born out of wedlock, but both parents completed an “Acknowledgement of Paternity”, the courts will use this document to establish paternity.
If the parents were never married and the father refuses to acknowledge paternity, the mother can ask the court to require that the father submits to a DNA test. Once the judge receives the results, they will use this information to establish paternity and determine child support obligations.
A child support attorney in Denver can help you navigate the best way to establish paternity in Colorado.
What is child support intended to be used for?
Child support is meant to help the custodial parent cover most of the costs of raising the child. This includes expenses related to food, clothing, medical costs, education, and other basic necessities. Any other major expenses beyond that are typically split between both parties.
Can I track child support payments to see where they are being spent?
When parents separate, the issue of child support can often become a point of contention. While one parent may feel that the child support benefit they receive is not enough to cover the expenses associated with raising a child, the other parent may question how that money is being spent.
Usually, it is left up to the parent receiving the child support benefit to decide how the money is spent. The non-custodial parent can, however, petition the court and request an accounting of where that money is going. You should note that such orders are rarely granted, and when they are, the court may require that the requesting parent be responsible for covering the costs of the accounting.
Can child support orders be changed?
The short answer is yes. In Colorado, either parent can request a modification of a child support order, even if the order has already been issued by the court.
Under what circumstances can a child support order be modified?
If either parent has experienced a substantial and ongoing change in circumstances since the child support order was last entered, they can ask the court to modify the child support order accordingly. The judge will ask to see evidence that there has been a change in either parent’s financial situation, or that there has been a change in specific child expenses. A Denver child support attorney can provide guidance on what information a parent should submit when requesting a child support modification.
Until what age are parents required to pay child support?
In the state of Colorado, a non-custodial parent has a legal obligation to pay child support until that child turns 19 years old. In some cases, a child may still be enrolled in high school after the age of 19, in which case, support payments are required until either the child graduates or reaches the age of 21.
Child support may also be extended beyond age 19 in situations where the child cannot care for themselves due to a disability.
Consult with a child support lawyer in Denver to make sure you get an appropriate child support agreement put in place. Otherwise, you may run into more costly issues down the line.
How is child support enforced?
A failure to pay child support in the state of Colorado may result in the delinquent parent having actions taken against them by the court. There are several ways that the court can enforce a child support order. This can include financial actions such as garnishment of your wages and liens placed against real estate, vehicles, and other personal property. A person can also be held in contempt of court, have their driver’s license or professional license suspended, or even face jail time.
If a parent fails to make child support payments or makes late or only partial payments, the custodial parent has a right to legal action. Whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant in the case, a Denver child support lawyer can assist you with defending your rights. Marquez Law specializes in child support enforcement cases and will help ensure that the best outcome possible happens for you and your children.
What happens if child support is not paid?
When child support payments are not made,Child Support Services (CSS) can take action against you. In the state of Colorado, CSS is not required to go through formal court proceedings to come after you and collect outstanding payments. If you are having trouble making child support payments, it is best to reach out to a child support attorney in Denver to help you devise an agreement with the court. Otherwise, several actions could be taken against you including deductions from unemployment benefits, wage garnishment, credit bureau reporting, and judgments and liens, etc.
If you’re looking for a child support lawyer in Denver, Marquez Law is here to help. We take the time to hear the details of your case and will help develop a winning strategy to address your specific concerns. Contact us today to request a free consultation!
Child Support Services
Attorney Márquez’s extensive experience in high conflict, complex financial, and high asset family law cases affords him the unique ability to help parties find detailed and often creative solutions to solve their cases. He is an empathetic and active listener, but more importantly, he is honest, practical and effective. Less time is spent on rehashing the conflict than on understanding the conflict to formulate options that lead to resolutions.
We look forward to assisting you find ways to resolve your complex cases efficiently and fairly.