Child Support

Child support payments most often are ordered as part of a divorce, but a court may order a parent to pay child support when the parents have never been married, when the parents are still married, in paternity cases, or when the child has received government financial aid and a state agency brings a motion requesting that one or both parents pay support. Child support is the right of the child, not to the parent receiving the support.

Marital misconduct does not matter when the court is determining child support.

In Colorado, child support is based on a statutory formula determined by several factors, including the income of the parents and the child, the standard of living the child had enjoyed prior to the separation of the spouses/partners, and the child’s needs. Costs also are considered as part of the formula, including daycare, healthcare or insurance premiums for the child, extraordinary medical expenses, support for other children born outside of the marriage, and maintenance received by either spouse.

Thanks to the child support formula, setting a guideline child support amount is relatively easy, and this is usually the amount the court will order. Courts may deviate from the child support guidelines under certain circumstances and order a higher or lower payment; such as when parents have exceptionally low or high incomes, when a parent or spouse has extraordinary medical expenses and when the parents have extraordinary travel costs associated with parenting time.

Generally, child support obligations terminate when the child turns 19 and has graduated high school. Emancipation may occur earlier than 19; such as when the child marries, joins the military, or becomes self-sufficient.

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