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In general, the starting point for calculating support in this case is the pre-tax income of both parents. Income does not mean just wages from your job but also retirement accounts, investments, assets and other sources of income. This can be become very complex in high-asset cases, making legal assistance even more important to ensure the final award is fair and reasonable while meeting the needs of the children involved. Keep in mind that the income of a new spouse who has since married one of the parents is not a factor in child support calculation in Colorado.
Once the incomes of both parents have been detailed and fully disclosed, the court will look at other issues that could impact support. This includes the costs of health insurance for the children, day care, and extraordinary expenses such as the tuition to a private school or special medical costs. A parent who is handling some of the extraordinary expenses may also have his or her support obligation reduced because of those expenses.
Some uncommon situations, such as when the children are divided between the household – one child lives with a mother while another lives with the father, for example – can really complicate support matters. Even in a case like that, support may be awarded based on the incomes of the two parents. The court may not allow parents to waive support altogether, even if they both agree, but you may be able to deviate from the guidelines if your situation calls for it.
There are special rules that apply when a parent is not working or considered underemployed. In this case, the court can estimate what that parent would earn if working at full capacity, which is known as imputing income. This is generally only done when the court believes one parent took a lower-paying job or isn’t working in bad faith to avoid his or her support obligations.
Child support can be a part of your legal separation or divorce. It’s important that the support amount ordered as part of your divorce or legal separation case is correct because it is an obligation that continues until your youngest child reaches the age of 19 in most cases. While this order can be modified, you have to show proof of a change in circumstances that would make the award go down or up by at least 10%.
You can also receive child support as a parent of a parental responsibilities allocation case. This is essentially a custody case, although the terms “parenting time” and “parental responsibilities” are used in this state instead of custody. During this case, the elements of the legal parent-child relationship are determined, including whom the child will primarily live with and the amount of time the non-custodial parent has with them. As with divorce and legal separation, you have different options when it comes to settling your parental responsibilities case. You can go through mediation, where a third party who is neutral works with you and the other parent to reach an agreement, or you can end up having a hearing in front of the judge if you can’t come to an agreement on your own. In both approaches, you can have legal representation on your side to help ensure your interests and the interests of your children are protected.
Finally, you can file your application with the Colorado Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU) to see if they are able to get the support order for you. Note that the CSEU does not handle anything other than child support, medical support and paternity and will not be able to help you get orders regarding other family matters, such as divorce or the allocation of parenting responsibilities. They do charge a fee for filing the application, although it may be waived for lower-income parents, and they do take a fee out of overdue support collected from a paying parent’s tax refund or state lottery winnings.
If you need to file for child support, contact the experts at Burnham Law today. Child support cases can become complex quickly, particularly in cases with high assets, so it’s beneficial to have sophisticated and experienced legal representation on your side.