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.
One of the leading ways resources are provided to single parents and divorced parents in Colorado is the child support program. Noncustodial parents are expected to meet any child support obligation they may have. Custodial parents, on the other hand, have usually been expected to apply for child support benefits when they apply for government-funded programs. A recent change in Colorado law means that this requirement doesn't always apply to everyone, however.
In Colorado, and across the U.S., a common way for parents who are supposed to be receiving payments to support a child to get what they are owed is through the various forms of income assignment by taking the money directly from the supporting parent's pay. However, there are other lesser-known ways in which a child support dispute over nonpayment will be settled by the state. Understanding them can help in getting what is owed.
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.
Whenever one parent in Colorado is granted custody of a child, the other parent often has to pay child support. This can happen if the parents divorce or separate. It can also happen when only one unmarried parent has custody of the child. It's helpful to think of the right to child support as belonging to the child, and the parent with custody receives the support for the child's benefit.
When a supporting parent in Colorado is confronted with accusations of a failure to pay child support, or a parent who is supposed to be receiving payments has not been getting the payments on time and in full, both must understand how the state deals with this. There are various penalties that can be assessed when the financial needs are not met. There are four tactics linked to income related enforcement and all can be used in an effort to get the payments that are owed.
For the last two decades the image of the "deadbeat dad" - a father who has the income to pay child support but refuses to do so - has dominated public policy discussions regarding child support in Colorado and around the country. A crackdown on those fathers has largely worked, according to advocates who want to change the child support system. The problem now is that nationwide there are large numbers of men who simply don't have the money to pay child support.
When a divorced or unmarried couple in Colorado shares a child, it is likely that one parent will have custody with the other parent paying child support. This can result in a child support dispute, with both sides having trouble coming to a consensus on the amount that is paid plus numerous other issues. Child support guidelines are in place to provide a roadmap as to how this will be dealt with, but oftentimes circumstances arise in which a supporting parent or a receiving parent would like to have the agreement modified.
In this blog we occasionally discuss celebrity divorce stories, on the theory that what celebrities go through in the divorce process is not that different from the experiences of ordinary Colorado citizens dealing with the end of a marriage. The difference, of course, is that when it comes to property division, alimony and child support, the numbers tend to be bigger in a celebrity divorce.
Raising a child today is expensive. In addition to every day expenses like day care, clothes and groceries, there are expenses for health insurance, medical and dental care, school, sports and extracurricular activities. Colorado courts will always look to the best interests of the child when making decisions regarding child support. But parents also have rights under Colorado law, and it is important that divorced and single parents understand those rights.