Whenever a court is called upon to devise or approve a child support plan, it takes the best interests of the child into account. In Colorado, courts use the child support guidelines -- written into state law -- to assist with making this determination. Each child support situation is different, thus, a blog post, such as this one, cannot give a definitive answer to the question of how much child support a parent may be asked to pay or receive. Still, the guidelines are generally applicable, and parents may find it helpful to have a 10,000 foot view of how they work.
First, no child support agreement in the Centennial State can stray too far from the child support guidelines. If parents attempt to get court approval for a plan that does stray too far, the court likely will not approve the plan.
Support is derived from the gross income of each parent. Here, gross income is defined as income from sources other than child support payments, a retirement plan, a second job or public assistance.
In determining the baseline that child support should be based on, the court will start with the combined gross income of the parents. The court will begin with a figure of about 20 percent of the combined gross income for the first child and about 10 percent for each subsequent child. The court will then adjust this amount based on a number of factors, including the child's and custodial parent's financial resources, the standard of living the child would have had the marriage not been dissolved, the financial needs of the custodial parent and the educational needs of the child taking into account the child's physical and emotional condition.
This is a brief summary of the Colorado child support guidelines. Parents with questions about child support can discuss them with a family law attorney.