Understanding Child Support And Spousal Maintenance In Colorado

There are general guidelines that serve as a starting point for courts to determine whether child support or spousal maintenance are warranted and how much will be paid. These guidelines are complex, and judges can deviate from them for any number of reasons.

Because these decisions have a significant impact on life after divorce, it is critical to have a knowledgeable family law attorney represent you when these important decisions are made. At the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC, we help our clients protect their rights regarding child support and spousal maintenance.

The Laws Regarding Child Support

Children are owed a duty of support from both parents. In Colorado, subject to certain limitations like a full-time educational program or a child under 30 months, parents are imputed income of at least full-time minimum wage. The court cannot order people to work, but they can calculate support utilizing at least 40 hours per week at the current Colorado minimum wage of $11.10 per hour for a gross monthly income of $1,924.

In calculating child support, the court must include the amount of maintenance to be paid to the other parent. The fields include gross income of each party, maintenance paid, the child's portion of health insurance, work-related day care, and the total number of overnights the child spends with each parent.

The child support and maintenance worksheets are available online. Parties can compare how sensitive the calculation is to changes in incomes, overnights, child care and health insurance. The calculation is much more sensitive to changes in the number of overnights than changes in income when there is a big disparity in incomes.

Spousal Maintenance Follows A Guideline

Colorado has a spousal maintenance guideline worksheet that gives parties an idea of what to expect. The courts in Douglas County will want to see the maintenance guideline worksheet prior to entering a decree of dissolution even if that figure is not utilized.

Often, there is a disagreement about what a party earns. Such determinations can be more complex when self-employment or commissions are involved. As a result, two worksheets may be submitted to show the range of potential earnings.

Courts consider several factors when determining spousal maintenance, including:

  • The ability of the party requesting maintenance to provide for his or her own daily needs
  • The ability of the paying party to provide monthly maintenance
  • The duration of the marriage
  • How marital assets and debt are divided

While the maintenance guidelines are only guidelines and do not create any kind of presumption, judges rely on them more and more in an attempt to attain some degree of consistency in maintenance awards.

Modifications Are Possible

Modifying existing orders for child support or spousal maintenance is possible when significant changes occur. Modification of maintenance is different than modifying child support. Pursuant to Section 14-10-122, C.R.S., child support may be modified upon a showing of a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. If the resulting child support to be paid is different by 10% from the current amount, then that is considered to be substantial.

Maintenance may not be modifiable at all if it is contractual. This would be stated in detail in the separation agreement. It would say that maintenance is contractual and cannot be modified. If it is modifiable, then the party requesting the modification must show there has been a substantial and continuing change of circumstances so significant that the original agreement is now unfair. This is a higher burden than just showing a 10% change.

Put Our Experience To Work For You

Attorney Lori Crystal is ready to protect your interests regarding child support and spousal maintenance. Call 720-773-6729 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer who cares about your future.