Colorado Family Law Firm

Denver Child Support Lawyer

Protecting Your Child’s Best Interests

Child support is for the benefit of the child. This does not mean that the parent receiving the child support payment must show that the money was used for the child. Often, it may be frustrating to see payments being applied to items that are not going for the benefit of the child. Even the best lawyer will not be able to force a parent to spend a child support payment in a certain way. Divorce attorneys can help break down the costs of raising a child and ensure the costs are allocated correctly but they cannot go further to require specific expenditures.

Colorado and Denver utilize a guideline of basic support obligations to calculate a parent’s child support obligation to the other parent. The basic support obligation can be increased for health insurance, extraordinary expenses, and childcare costs. Although this is a presumptive calculation, each situation is different, which is why we encourage you to consult with a Denver family lawyer to determine specific issues that could impact a child support determination.

To get started, contact Schmidt Law Group, P.C.and schedule a free initial consultation.

Calculating the Basic Child Support Obligation

When calculating a child support obligation, the court in Denver and surrounding areas will look at the adjusted gross income of each parent. Adjusted gross income is income before taxes minus any child support payments made for another child and/or maintenance paid by a parent to another spouse. Divorce attorneys must pay close attention to what is alleged to be the income of both parties because reporting too little income may not provide enough support for the child and over inflating income could result in a windfall.

Gross Income Sources

At Schmidt Law Group, P.C., our Denver child support lawyer can help determine gross income. It generally includes income from any source except those noted below.

Basically, it would be money received from:

  • Salaries and wages
  • Tips received
  • Commissions and other payments received as an independent contractor for labor or services
  • Bonuses
  • Dividends
  • Royalties, rents, and interest
  • Severance pay
  • Pensions and retirement benefits
  • Trust income, annuities, and capital gains
  • Social security benefits
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Money earned by a self-employed person
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Monetary gifts
  • Insurance funds received in lieu of wages
  • Income from general partnerships
  • Limited partnerships
  • Closely held corporations and/or limited liability companies, unless the parent is a passive investor
  • Some expense reimbursements from employer
  • Alimony or maintenance received
  • Overtime pay, if overtime is required by the employer as a condition of employment

You do not generally include any benefits received from state or federal government based on need, child support payments received, income from a second job, social security benefits received by the children, and earnings or gains on a retirement account. The reason that income from a second job is not included is due to the possibility that may be used by a party to get ahead on bills and provide more stability for the child so be sure to look at the source of the income. If there are any questions on whether it would or would not count as gross income, consult our Denver divorce attorney.

For self-employed or small business owners, for the purposes of gross income calculation, the court will commonly add back as income any expenses not directly attributed to the normal operation of a business. Taxes will be considered but legal IRS deductions may not be allowable for a support calculation. In Denver and the whole of Colorado, the purpose of child support is to benefit the child.

Voluntarily Unemployed or Underemployed

If a parent is not working, working part-time or is working at a lower wage by choice, the court will assign income based on potential income and not actual income received. For example, if a parent chooses to work at a child’s school but he or she has previously worked as a Certified Public Accountant for a number of years and earned a certain salary, the court could use the CPA salary rather than the reduced amount actually received.

Shared Custody of Children

Another factor to consider in determining child support is the amount of time each parent spends with the child. If one parent spends less than 92 overnights per year with the child, the court will not consider the percentage of time spent with the child. The court will automatically favor the parent who has the child more and is spending more on the child’s needs.

If there is shared time, the basic child support amount is allocated to each parent based on the percentages of overnights with the parent. For example, if a child lives in Denver with the father and in Lakewood with the mother, and the time is equally divided, the costs of housing expenses will be considered for both residences. There is no adjustment for living in a higher cost city or area of Denver.

Health Care & Extraordinary Expenses

Health care cost and other expenses may be added to the basic support obligation. The amounts of the cost of health insurance would be split between the parents in a pro-rata share of total expenses.

Changes From Basic Child Support Obligations

The court may at times deviate from the basic child support obligation if it finds it would be inequitable, unjust, or inappropriate to follow the child support guidelines as indicated in the Colorado Revised Statute §14-115-(8)(e). Keep in mind that it is your responsibility to show the court that deviation from the guidelines is necessary based on evidence that you provide to the court. A Denver child support lawyer would be able to review the options and potential impact of a support obligation to the facts of your case.

Modification of Previous Child Support Orders

The court may modify by either increasing or decreasing a child support award. In Denver, Adams, and Jefferson counties, this modification process would most likely require mediation prior to a hearing. In order to qualify for a modification of child support, you must show a continuing and substantial change in circumstances that results in a 10% or more increase or decrease in the current award.

At Schmidt Law Group, P.C., our Denver divorce attorney often receives questions on whether a remarriage or a loss of a job could be a triggering event. There are no hard and fast rules, it would depend on the industry and ability of the person to obtain suitable employment in their field. If the position or industry had been completely eliminated, it could impact a future award. Generally, a job loss alone is not enough to trigger a modification and the issue should be reviewed by your lawyer before moving forward.

Call us today at (303) 225-1016 to get the facts of your child support case reviewed right away.

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