Child Support Attorneys in Denver, Colorado
]If you are going through a divorce, you will want to make sure that your child or children receive the support they require. If you need to create or modify a child support arrangement, call us at Attorneys at Law Timlin & Rye, P.C. in Denver, Colorado. Our family law attorneys have almost 100 years of combined family law experience between them and are dedicated to serving families as they navigate the often-difficult divorce and child custody process.
Colorado law dictates that children of divorced parents must receive support from both parents for food, clothing, a home, and access to education. If you are seeking to create or modify a child support arrangement in Colorado, it is helpful to know the basics of Colorado’s laws surrounding the proceedings.
Understanding Child Support in Colorado
The first step in creating a child support arrangement is to establish paternity. If both parents were married when the baby was born, the court can legally presume that both parents are the birth parents.
If both parents were not married and have not filed an Acknowledgment of Paternity form, the mother can voluntarily ask the father to sign this form or can petition the court to order the father to take a paternity test. Then, you can apply for child support services with the Colorado Office of Economic Security.
Factors Considered in Determining Amount
Colorado uses a method called “income shares” to determine the amount of support owed by each parent. This means that both parents are responsible for the child’s support and that the child will receive the same amount of support that they would have received if their parents were not divorcing.
Most income (salaries, wages, tips, commissions, bonuses, severance pay, income from trusts, Social Security and unemployment benefits, and overtime pay) is included in the calculation that determines the amount to pay. Usually, benefits such as food stamps and earnings from retirement accounts are excluded from the calculation, in addition to income earned from additional jobs that require the parent to work more than 40 hours a week, or more than can generally be agreed as full-time employment.
Other than income, the court determines the amount of support by considering factors such as overnights spent with each parent, childcare/daycare expenses, health insurance expenses, and any other child support orders or alimony to be paid. The parent who pays child support to the other parent is usually the parent who spends the least number of “overnights” with the child.
When a parent is not working or is underemployed, but the court determines that that parent can reasonably be employed or work more hours, the court can “impute” (or assign) an income to that parent to be used in determining the amount of child support to be paid.
The imputed amount is based on many factors, including assets, past employment/earnings, potential based on skills and education, literacy, age, and health. If alimony payments are not taxable to the parent receiving the alimony, these payments might also count as income.
Modifying an Existing Arrangement
A parent can petition the court to modify an existing child support arrangement by submitting a request to their local county child support office.
To modify an existing child support order, a parent must show that there has been a substantial change of circumstances in one or both of the parents’ lives. This can include the child becoming emancipated before the age of 19, a change to a parent’s income, a significant change to a parent’s expenses due to the rising cost of childcare, or a change in the schedule of overnights with one parent. A parent can also petition the court to modify an arrangement if the existing order has not been reviewed in three years.
Enforcing Child Support Orders
If the paying parent has stopped paying child support, you can enforce the order by contacting your local county child support office.
Consequences for Non-Payment
If a parent stops paying child support, they will begin accumulating “arrearages”—that is, the amount due will keep accumulating. The state can order a parent’s employer to deduct child support from their paychecks—this is called the “income assignment” system. Colorado can also order income assignments on such things as retirement/unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation payments.
If a parent continues to withhold child support payments, further consequences can include having their driver’s license suspended, losing tax rebates, and even having their bank accounts seized.
Termination of Child Support
Child support terminates in Colorado when the child turns 19, unless the child is still in high school, in which case child support ends at the end of the month after graduation. Both parents can submit a written agreement to the court to extend the child support payments past the child’s 19th birthday.
If the child enters active military duty, or the child has a mental or physical disability, the court may order child support to continue.
Child Support Attorneys in Denver, Colorado
We at Attorneys at Law Timlin & Rye, P.C. know that every family situation is different, and we are determined to help you make the smartest decisions and ensure the best possible future for your family. For a consultation on all your family law matters in Colorado, call our family law attorneys Jeffrey J. Timlin and Melissa J. Rye at Attorneys at Law Timlin & Rye, P.C., serving Denver as well as throughout Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson, and Douglas counties.