Colorado has a statutory guideline for calculating child support. While the court does not technically have to follow this calculation, it often does. If this is not followed, the Court is required by law to explain what child support should be under the statutory guideline and why the guideline was not followed. In any case involving child support, whether it is to establish child support or modify the amount, it is a good idea to start with the child support calculator. As a case moves forward, other factors may come into play that change the amount, but it is often good to start with a basic estimate. The State of Colorado provides a calculator for people to use (please read more for helpful tips on getting a more accurate estimate from the calculator):
When completing the calculation, it is important to remember the following to get the most accurate calculation:
- Child support is calculated using gross income, not net income.
- If a parent is in the military, BAH and BAS are included in your income amount.
- Although VA benefits are not taxable, they are included in the income calculation.
- If a parent is not working, this does not automatically mean their income will be set at $0 for the child support calculations. The Court may consider a person’s potential income. There are a number of factors to the Court will use to calculate a person’s potential income including work history, education, and the local job market.
- If your income varies throughout the year, the court will usually average it out. This can be done using your last year’s tax return (assuming your income for the current year has not significantly changed) or your current year-to-date income.
- Bonuses you regularly receive may be counted.
- In-kind income (employer-provided vehicle, meals, or other employer-paid benefits) may be counted.
- The income from a parent’s new spouse does not count as income for calculating child support.
- The Court will typically consider the number of overnights each parent has with the children. This number is averaged for the entire year and is not specific to the month. If one parent has the majority of the time over the summer, child support does not change for those months because they are already included in the overall calculation.
- The Court can also consider time spent with the children if just counting overnights doesn’t accurately reflect the time and expenses for the children.
- Don’t forget to account for holiday parenting time. Depending on the schedule. This may add overnights to a parent who has less time.
- Expenses such as health and dental insurance, or childcare to allow a parent to attend work or school, may result in a change to the child support amount. By statute, these expenses are to be split in proportion to income. The parties can agree, or the court can order a different division. Generally, these amounts are paid by adjusting the child support amount.
- If a parent has another child not subject to the current case (usually children from another relationship), their income should be adjusted. However, stepchildren do not count because the stepparent is not legally responsible for stepchildren.
If you have any questions about your current situation, contact us to schedule a free, 30-minute consultation.