Child support can be an emotional and controversial topic for divorcing parents. The practical and financial consequences of not receiving child support can be catastrophic. Thanks to politically popular movements against "deadbeat" parents, the penalties for not paying can also be severe, including but not limited to wage assignments (garnishments) and driver's license suspension. If you're in the divorce or separation process, it's essential to make sure your child support order is realistic and correctly calculated now to avoid problems later.
The Colorado Springs law office of Jennifer B. James, P.C., can help. I am a child support and family-law attorney representing both mothers and fathers in El Paso County and throughout the state of Colorado. I'm also a former Head Start teacher with substantial experience in family and child relationships. I understand the strain that financial pressures can put on a marriage or a single parent. I help clients through the complicated process of calculating support obligations in Colorado, with the goal of reaching a support order that protects your family and doesn't make later conflicts inevitable.
Calculating Colorado Child Support
Support is based on how much custody is shared and the parents' incomes, along with a host of other considerations, including:
- The standard of living the children would have enjoyed if the marriage hadn't ended
- The paying parent's other financial obligations
- What other financial resources the paying parent has put toward the children's care
- Any extraordinary expenses, like medical bills
The state of Colorado has a formula for calculating support obligations. It can get very complex, especially when one parent has an unusual job (such as self-employment), is in the military or is accused of intentionally "under-earning" to avoid child support. In addition to outright payments, Colorado law obligates parents to share expenses like medical insurance and day care, which are factored into the support formula. Child Support ends when the child turns 19 (not 18) or is legally emancipated. If there's more than one child, however, the payer still must pay the full amount until he or she gets a court to change the support order.
As you can see, child support is very complicated and depends on everyone's honesty about their financial situations. As a Colorado family-law attorney, I can help guide you through this process and present you and your finances to a court or mediator in the most advantageous way possible. I work to get my clients a support order that meets their and their children's needs -- without creating an unrealistic obligation that sends everyone back to court within a year.
Enforcing or Changing Your Support Order
The law recognizes that circumstances change as time goes on after a divorce or separation. Children's financial needs change as they get older, and parents may lose a job, get married, or otherwise change their financial resources and obligations. To reflect those changes, either parent may petition for a change in the support order. Even if you've come to an informal agreement about changes with your former spouse, it's best to follow up in court in case he or she later reneges.
Unfortunately, some parents also find that the child support checks stop coming without any explanation, putting the children on rocky financial ground. If you truly can't afford your child support payments and it's getting you into legal trouble, I can help you defuse the situation and work to change the support to something everyone can live with. If your former spouse simply refuses to pay what he or she legally owes, I can also help you enforce your order, through a direct contempt-of-court order or by advocating for your case through the Colorado Child Support Enforcement Program.
Child Support Attorney in Colorado Springs
The complexities of Colorado child support law can feel overwhelming, especially if you're already under the financial and personal strain of divorce. If you need help understanding, crafting, changing or enforcing a child support order, contact Jennifer B. James, P.C.. You can reach me at (719) 473-1813 or drop by my downtown Colorado Springs offices.