Divorce is complicated enough when there aren’t children in the mix. If there are children to consider, additional factors come into play. Those factors include custody rights, visitation, and child support.
Unfortunately, as many as 61% of first-marriage divorces involve children under the age of 18. Does your divorce fall into this category? If it does, you may have questions about how you and your ex-spouse will divide expenses.
Marquez Law understands that this is a difficult time. We’re here to guide you through the process. We know that child support is an important issue and want to work with you to ensure your child is well-supported.
Before you speak with an attorney, you may want to gain a better understanding of child support and how it works. Below, we’ve provided answers to some of the most common questions we get asked about child support.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Calculating child support is not always a cut-and-dry process. The courts will consider many details, like the standard of living the child had prior to the divorce. Additionally, the financial resources of both parents will need to be considered, as well as the physical and emotional needs of the child.
Fortunately, it is possible to get a general idea of what child support will look like before you even make it to court.
Typically, in the state of Colorado, child support is calculated according to these factors:
* Retirement benefits (including pension)
* Trust income
The formula is somewhat complicated. Simplified, it usually comes down to 20% of your gross income for the first child and 10% for each additional child. Of course, the custody arrangement (how much time the child spends with each parent) will also factor into the formula.
If you want to get a more specific estimation, visit the Colorado Office of Economic Security’s website. There you will find several worksheets that allow you to plug in the specifics that apply to your situation.
What Happens If My Income Changes?
If you have a significant change of circumstances, you may find yourself suddenly unable to make the agreed-upon payments. In these cases, the courts are usually willing to work with you if you can provide evidence of the changes.
Ordinarily, changes of circumstance fall into one or more of these categories:
* Emancipation of the child
* Change in income
* Change in healthcare, daycare, or education costs
* Change in custody arrangements
While you may be tempted to work out an arrangement outside of the courts, it is never a good idea. If you want to change your legal obligations, you must petition the courts.
To do that, you must submit a written request to the child support office of your county. The request needs to include the following documents:
* Reason for the change
* Supporting evidence of the change
* Income and Expense Affidavit
In all, the process can take as long as six months. Before you submit your request, it is always a good idea to consult with your lawyer, who can help you to prepare the appropriate paperwork.
What Is Covered By Child Support?
Raising a child costs money. When parents divorce, it can be difficult to know who should pay for what. That’s where child support comes in.
In the state of Colorado, child support encompasses several main categories of expenses. Below, we have provided information regarding each category.
Education may include everything from school supplies to daycare costs to school lunches and more. Even if your child attends public school, the cost of education adds up quickly.
In fact, child support only covers public school education. Private schools and boarding schools fall into the category of “extraordinary expenses.” If you want those covered by child support, they need to be specially requested.
There is no arguing that a child must have food, clothing, and housing. But the specifics of this category can be hyper-specific. For example, food includes everything from weekly groceries to school lunches. Likewise, housing must include mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, telephone costs, and other expenses that go along with providing reasonable shelter for your child.
In addition to health insurance, the courts will take other potential medical costs into consideration. Does your child’s healthcare require travel, medication, rehabilitation, therapy, or more? These details must be factored into the formula.
If the child is uninsured, all out-of-pocket costs must be factored in. Dental, orthodontic, and vision care also fall under this umbrella.
If there is significant travel between the two parents’ homes, the costs of travel should factor into the formula. That includes everything from gas to vehicle registration, insurance, and upkeep.
With all of these details, you might be wishing you had asked “what isn’t covered by child support?” instead.
Here is a brief list of the expenses that aren’t covered by child support:
* Costs of club memberships
* School field trips
* Summer camps
* Extracurricular activities
For more guidance about the ins and outs of child support coverage, consult with a divorce attorney.
How Long Does Child Support Last?
Because many children are still in high school when they turn 18, the state of Colorado extends child support to their 19th birthday. In the vast majority of cases, reaching this milestone automatically terminates the child support arrangement. That means no court action is required.
In certain cases, child support may extend past the child’s 19th birthday. This includes situations in which the child is still in high school or the parents have previously agreed to an extended deadline.
Additionally, children with physical or mental disabilities may require extended child support.
Do I Need to Establish Paternity?
If the child was born while the parents were married, there may be no contest to the paternity of a child. If the child was born out of wedlock, both parents will need to complete an “Acknowledgement of Paternity.” If the father refuses, the court may require a DNA test to establish paternity.
Can I Monitor How My Payment Is Spent?
In most cases, the parent with primary custody decides how the money is spent. If you are the non-primary custodian, you may have concerns about how the other parent is spending child support. In these cases, you can request an accounting of monthly expenses.
Keep in mind that if your request is granted, you may become responsible for the costs of accounting.
Do I Need a Divorce Attorney?
If you are filing for divorce, it is always a good idea to consult with a qualified attorney. You and your former partner may agree upon all of the details of the proceedings. Still, hiccups and bumps-in-the-road invariably cause problems. This is especially true when children are involved.
An experienced attorney will provide you with a calm and unbiased perspective. Divorces can become heated, but a different perspective will allow you to see things fairly.
Throughout custody and child support discussions, more questions may come to the surface. For example, you could find yourself asking:
* Do I pay child support when I have the kids?
* What do I do when my ex-spouse refuses to pay child support?
* What if my ex-spouse is incarcerated?
* How is child support collected?
* What if my ex-spouse uses child support on personal expenses?
* What if my ex-spouse remarries?
As you might imagine, child support proceedings can get complicated fast. If you want to stay on top of the details and get quick answers to your questions, hire a lawyer.
Why Choose Marquez Law for My Divorce?
At Marquez Law, we prioritize empathy, efficiency, and effectiveness. When you call to discuss child support, we will provide kind, knowledgeable, and reliable guidance.
We know that divorce brings a lot of emotion to the surface, and we handle each case with care. Give us a call when you want a lawyer who will be your advocate in handling child support in Denver, CO.
We understand that each family and situation brings different concerns to the surface. Our years of experience enable us to handle each new situation with compassion and knowledge. Reach out to learn more today.