Regardless of how tough splitting up with a spouse can be, the needs of the children should always be the main priority. Our experienced family lawyers at Brighter Day Law in Colorado Springs work relentlessly to ensure that the children get their entitlement of financial support as per state law.
We help both non-custodial and custodial parents set, compel, and revise child support orders across the Teller, Pueblo, and El Paso counties. Even in complex scenarios, our law firm will help you get to a resolution that allows your child to get the support they are entitled to.
What Does Child Support Cover?
The purpose of child support is to cover the basic needs of a child. This encompasses clothes on their back, food, and a roof over their head(s). To be specific, a Court will take into consideration the following expenses when ascertaining the amount of child support: grooming and clothing, utilities, rent or mortgage, vacations, entertainment, groceries and household expenses, transport costs including gas and insurance and any other pertinent expenses the child would have gotten if the parents had not broken up. Maintaining the lifestyle of the child, in this case, is key.
On top of basic payments, there are multiple categories given the special privilege and need the contribution of one or both parties to the basic child support obligation. These include uncovered medical costs, childcare, health insurance premiums, educational expenses, extracurricular expenses, and other times camp.
- Educational and Extracurricular Expenses: It’s within the bounds of the court to order that one or both parties cover the educational and extracurricular expenses of the child in addition to child support. This extra expense can help in contributing to reasonable extracurricular and school costs meant to promote the educational, athletic, social, or cultural development of the child. Examples include athletic fees, bus fees, tuition, field trips, books and supplies, registration fees, and sports equipment.
- Health Insurance Premiums: When computing the guideline child support scheme, payments of health insurance premiums are also considered. The amounting health insurance premium payable to the child’s coverage is added up to the standard obligation and shared out between the parties based on their income stream.
- Uncovered Medical Expenses: While some part of basic child support is meant for covering some standard out-of-pocket medical costs, the court can mandate parents, in addition to the standard child support, to provide the child’s healthcare requirements that aren’t covered by insurance. These expenses range from but aren’t limited to dental, orthodontic or vision expenses, unreimbursed medical, co-pays, and prescription meds.
- Childcare Expenses: A court can mandate every parent to play a part in some expenses that are within reason and essential in enabling a parent to attend school, work, or search for employment.
What’s the Point of Child Support?
Child support is a payment support scheme ordered when spouses are no longer together. It’s in the child’s best interest to get financial support from both his or her parents. It’s also an acceptable public policy requiring parents to support their flesh and blood so that those kids don’t become wards of the state or dependent on state-run support programs or welfare.
Child support may also be mandated in circumstances where one parent doesn’t necessarily have any contact with their child unless S/he has legally given up their parental rights with the consent of both the other party and court.
Who Decides Child Support?
Each state has its formula for computing a child support order, and presiding judges often use those criteria to determine the amount that is payable in every child support case. The formulas can prove to be complicated, but it’s pretty straightforward estimating the amount of your child support by utilizing free online calculators.
When it comes to estimating child support, the most significant factor is how much the parents are earning. Certain states consider both of the parents’ income, while others take into consideration the non-custodial parent income. In the majority of states, the amount of time every parent spends with their children plays a significant factor in the court order.
Many states consider one or more of the following factors when calculating child support:
- Alimony or child support either spouse gets from a preceding marriage
- If either party is paying alimony or child support from a prior marriage
- If either spouse is responsible for any children from a past or subsequent marriage
- Which party is paying for health insurance coverage and cost
- Which parent is paying for the costs of daycare
- If either parent is mandated to pay out union dues or has deductible amounts from paychecks
- The children’s ages
- If either parent gets irregular income like incentive pay or bonuses or is expecting a severance package or any other lump-sum payments
- If either party is currently living with a new partner/spouse who is contributing to household expenses
The majority of courts consider child support to be more important compared to alimony. They compute child support first and then review the remainder for settling alimony. Note that states define ‘income’ a little differently – some use net income, gross income, and some include bonuses, overtime, and gifts while other states do not. In case a parent has a considerable investment source, it may be considered as income for the reasons for computing child support.
How Is Child Support Enforced?
In the event, a parent fails to pay child support or misses to meet the deadline for payment, a private party or the state has grounds to file for enforcement action. The child support attorneys at Brighter Day Law fully understand the intricacies that go with enforcement and contempt actions and can assist you in navigating the situation, whether you are seeking judgment or have been served up with one.
How is Child Support Calculated?
39 states, which also include Colorado, utilize the income share model when calculating child support payments. The foundation of this model is ensuring that the children get the same amount of parental income they would have otherwise gotten if the parents had stayed together. Before the divorce, parents pool their revenues together and plan the expenditure for the benefit of the household. Therefore, to compute child support, the courts use the same approach:
- Establish the income and financial resources of both parents and sum them up to one amount.
- Establish child support responsibilities based on a statutory table or schedule.
- Establish a presumptive child support mandate by adding expenses like childcare or extraordinary medical costs.
- Distribute the presumptive child support responsibilities among both parents based on their combined income percentage.
For instance, let’s say the custodial parent is making $1,000 monthly, and the non-custodial earns $2,000 every month. The first thing would be to combine both their incomes to get a total of $3,000 per month. The court would then compute every parent’s percentage of their total income by dividing their separate income amounts by the total sum. In this case, the custodial parent would be 33.33% i.e., ($1000/$3000), and the non-custodial percentage would be 66.66% ($2000/$3000).
So if the statutory table establishes the standard obligation at $500 every month, and then $50 added for childcare costs, then the hypothetical child support obligation would rise to $550. The courts multiply the percentage of the non-custodial parent (66.66%) by the theoretical child support obligation ($550) to get the final child support obligation for the month. In this particular example, the non-custodial parent will pay $366.63 for child support per month for the agreement period.
How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support?
Unlike other states that allow parents to cut off their kids when they turn 18 years old, Colorado mandates parents to support their children financially until they reach 19 years. This also encompasses providing the child’s health insurance. But if the child is emancipated via marriage or enrolling in the military, then the parent is not required to make any payment. A child may also be self-sustained, which should legally terminate the obligation of child support.
In case the child has a disability, then parents may be required to provide financial support for an extended period. Consulting a lawyer on how best to deal with a special needs child is best.
The legal team at Brighter Day Law has extensive experience with all of the complex legal issues that divorcing couples may face, and we are ready to provide you the legal counsel you need during this challenging time
What If You Were Never Married?
Although child support settlements usually go together with divorce proceedings, it’s not always the situation. Both of the parents are responsible for the emotional and financial well-being of children until they reach 19 years of age. This fact stands regardless if the parents are married or not.
Generally, the non-custodial parent must:
- Make payments dependent on income and needs
- Provide insurance
- Make child care support payment
Your Colorado Springs Child Support Lawyer
Colorado child support payments often become a subject of debate in family court proceedings, whether it’s determining an initial amount or getting a noncustodial parent to make their payments. Our family law attorneys can help you with your family law matters including divorce, child support, and child custody in Colorado Springs and El Paso County. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.