When a Colorado family law court sets the amount of child support to be paid from one parent to the other, they will follow Colorado's child support guidelines in computing this figure. Readers may be wondering how this calculation is done. While a full account of the guidelines would be beyond the scope of this blog post, we will here offer a brief summary of how child support payments are determined.
Colorado uses a method of computing child support obligations that is used in about half of the states in the United States. This is called the income shares model, and the idea is that children should be supported in a manner similar to what would have been the case had the family stayed together. The determination begins by adding together the gross incomes of each parent. Any income from a new spouse or partner is not included in this figure.
The guidelines can then be consulted to determine what the combined child support obligation is. This is the total amount spent to raise the children. The combined child support obligation is then adjusted for each parent based on each parent's share of the total gross income. The parent with physical custody of the child will be assumed to spend this amount from their income to raise the children. The non-custodial parent will likely have to pay their share to the custodial parent.
If the parents in question have very low or very high incomes, the court will not use the guidelines to set child support obligations. Instead, the court will enter a child support order of $50 per month for those with very low incomes. Those with very high incomes will pay more than is called for by the guidelines. Legal help is available for those who would like more information.
Source: Colorado Department of Human Services, "A Parent's Guide to Child Support," accessed on March 27, 2016