Both parents have an obligation to support their children. Child Support is statutorily governed by C.R.S. §14-10-115 and is calculated pursuant to child support guidelines when the combined gross incomes of the parties does not exceed $360,000 per year. If your joint income exceeds $360,000 per year, the court can extrapolate beyond the child support guidelines if it so chooses. The obligation to pay child support continues until the minor child reaches the age of 19, dies or is otherwise emancipated, whichever occurs first.
The factors considered in establishing child support include the income of each party, the number of overnights exercised by each party with the minor child(ren), the cost of childcare, health insurance and any other extraordinary expense.
Child support is typically paid through the Family Support Registry via an income assignment (wage garnishment).
If you are otherwise entitled to take the child dependency exemption and childcare credit for a particular calendar year on your federal or state income tax returns, you must be current on your child support for that year to do so.
Overview of Child Support Law in Colorado
When the Child Support Obligation Begins
If you are married to the child’s mother, your obligation to pay child support commences at the time of separation. If you are not legally married to the child’s mother, child support begins at the time the child is born, and you will be liable for the costs of childbirth. However, you will not be liable for child support during the time that you lived with the child and were providing support.
Children Under the Age of 30 Months
If one of the parties is the primary caretaker of a child under the age of 30 months (typically the mother), the court will NOT impute income to her or expect her to work until the child reaches the age of 30 months.
You are obligated to pay child support regardless of whether or not you were aware of the birth of your child, wanted the child, or even had a relationship with the mother beyond a one night stand. While this may seem eminently unfair, the legislature has determined that all children have a right to be supported since it was not their decision to be born. It is not unheard of for a father to be served with papers requesting child support years down the road when the child is a teenager, despite the father not having any knowledge of the birth of the child.
Child Support Arrearages
You must be hyper-vigilant in paying your child support. If you don’t pay your child support, you risk going to jail. Courts view the obligation to pay child support and maintenance (formerly alimony) as the most important financial obligations you have. If you cannot afford to pay your child support and pay all of your bills, you must pay your child support first. Your other bills will have to wait.
All child support arrearages accrue interest at 12% PER MONTH. This is statutory, and the judge has no power to waive the interest.
If you are delinquent in your child support, several adverse consequences may result, such as:
- Suspension of driver’s license
- Suspension of professional licenses (doctors, lawyers, CPAs, teachers, etc.)
- Withholding of your U.S. passport
- Garnishment of your wages up to 60% of your disposable income
- Garnishment of your tax refund
- Garnishment of bank accounts
- Lien on your home
Child Support Modification
Child support can be modified if circumstances change such that a recalculation of the child support results in a 10% change from the amount owed pursuant to a prior court order. Circumstances which could result in a change vary and include a change in income, the birth of additional children, number of overnights spent with the child(ren), daycare expense no longer being incurred, or health insurance expense rising.
If you are having financial problems, such as the loss of employment, you must continue to pay something every month even if it is not the full amount. The court expects you to make a good faith effort to support your children regardless of your financial circumstances.
If you do experience a job loss, you MUST file a motion to modify child support as soon as possible. Any modification will be retroactive to the date that you file your motion. If, for example, you lose your job but don’t file a motion until 6 months later, you will still be obligated to pay the full amount of child support for those 6 months.
Do Not Get Trapped
Do not rely on promises of your ex-wife that she’ll forgive or not pursue child support for the months for which you are unemployed. Any such agreement is NOT ENFORCEABLE. Unless you have a signed order from a court reducing your child support, your child support has not been reduced.
Withholding of Parenting Time
The right to see your child(ren) is NOT contingent on the payment of child support. The courts view the obligation to pay child support and the right to parenting time as separate and distinct. This means that the mother of your child cannot prevent you from seeing your child(ren) if you are late or behind on child support. Nor can the mother demand extra money as a condition of seeing your children.
Fighting for Fair Child Support for Fathers
As a father, you have a duty to support your child. However, child support payments must be fair and accurate. Sharon Liko fights for fair child support payments for her clients across the state of Colorado, including Douglas County, Arapahoe County, Jefferson County and the communities of Littleton, Englewood, Centennial, Castle Rock, Cherry Hills, Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village, Lakewood, Golden, and Arvada. Ms. Liko is also licensed to practice in Texas. Call today at to set up a consultation.