child support guidelines

Deviation from the Child Support Guidelines

As I discussed in my first blog regarding child support, Colorado child support is calculated on a formula.  This formula is often called the child support guidelines.  Many people believe that these guidelines are absolutely required to be applied, with no wiggle room. 

Although it’s true that in most cases the courts follow the child support guidelines, the law does allow the court to deviate from the child support guidelines. The standard for deviation is that the application of the guidelines would be “inequitable, unjust, or inappropriate.”   If the court deviates, the court is required to determine what the child support would have been under the guidelines, and then give detailed reasons for the deviation.

Reasons that may (not shall) justify deviation from the child support guidelines include, but aren’t limited to:

  • one parent spends substantially more time with the child than reflected by a straight counting of overnights;
  • extraordinary medical expenses incurred for treatment of a parent or a current spouse;
  • extraordinary costs associated with parenting time;
  • gross disparity in income between the parents;
  • ownership of a parent of a substantial non-income producing asset;
  • consistent overtime not included in the gross income of a parent in the child support calculation (explained more in my next blog); and
  • income that is more than full-time or is from second jobs (explained more in my next blog).

The existence of one of these factors does not require the court to deviate from the child support guidelines, but may be used as a factor in a court’s decision to deviate.  The court can still deviate from the child support guidelines even if one of the above factors does not exist.  However, for any deviation, the court must state what the child support would have been under the guidelines, and then explain its reason for the deviation. 

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 in this series on child support in Colorado.