One purpose of the child support system in Colorado is to establish a policy to adequately support children once parents no longer live together. The child support guidelines aim to “calculate child support based on the parents’ combined adjusted gross income estimated to have been allocated to the children if the parents and children were living in an intact household.” C.R.S. 14-10-115(b)(I).
This means that children should have the same financial support after their parents no longer live together as they did when their parents were still living in the same house. Realistically, this means that both parents’ income is combined and a formula decides how much each parent should pay to support the children per month.
Importantly, the amount that each parent should pay is partially based upon physical care arrangements (aka “custody”). For example, if little Sally lives with Mom 6 days a week and spends Saturday night with Dad, Dad will generally have a higher child support obligation than if he had little Sally 4 days a week. The theory is that when little Sally sleeps at Mom’s house, Mom pays for little Sally’s dinner, toothpaste, pajamas, etc. As a result, physical care arrangements impact child support obligations.
Child support calculations are complicated and small changes in income, physical care arrangements, or extraordinary expenses may have a big impact on the bottom dollar. If you would like to see what your child support obligation might be, you may access the electronic child support worksheets here: http://www.courts.state.co.us/Forms/Forms_List.cfm?Form_Type_ID=94.
Keywords: ex, ex-wife, ex-husband, child support, CSE.