As a family law mediator, one of the most common issues that I address in mediation is determining child support. I can’t even begin to estimate how many people say something like, “I heard child support is a formula, so it must be easy to figure out.” In some cases, that might even be a true statement. However, the result of a formula is only as good as the information and numbers that get plugged into the calculation.
Child Support in Colorado
In Colorado, child support is determined by a formula based on “the income shares model.” This model assumes that a child should receive the same proportion of income in the form of support from each parent that the child would have received if the parents were together. There’s a chart in the Colorado statutes showing that for each level of combined monthly pre-tax income, what the resulting total base child support should be. Then, in theory, each parent provides support to the child in his/her percentage of the support amount.
The following is a list of some of the information that typically goes into the formula when calculating child support:
- Pre-tax monthly gross income of each parent.
- Number of children of this relationship.
- Maintenance paid by a parent to a current or former spouse.
- Child support paid by a parent for children of other relationships.
- Number of children of a parent of other relationships who live with that parent.
- Number of overnights in a year received by each parent.
- Cost of childcare.
- Cost for the children’s portion of medical and dental insurance.
- Other specific expenses paid by a parent for the child, including ongoing medical expenses.
It should come as no surprise that when there are this many factors in calculating child support, there is ample opportunity for parents to disagree about one or more of numbers that goes into the calculation.
In upcoming blogs in this child support series, I’ll address these factors. My next child support series blog will discuss some of the common issues and disagreements around determining the income figures for each parent.