Whether or not you and your spouse are staying together, your child relies on parental care during their growing-up years. This is the purpose of child support – the money is paid not to financially boost either parent but to provide your young one with the means to survive and grow. Thus, child support is meant to cover not a parent’s needs, but the child’s.
Types Of Expenses Covered By Colorado Child Support
In Colorado, there are two categories of child-rearing expenses that child support may cover. One is basic expenses, which of course means food, clothing, and housing for your child. This category may also include other customary costs such as school transportation, school lunches, allowances, ordinary healthcare, dental, or medical needs, and other normally expected needs that you and your spouse expressly agree on.
The other category is extraordinary expenses. These are additional expenses that are specific to your child, such as extracurricular activities, school trips, private tutoring, special clothing and equipment for hobbies, and organization fees. If your child is gifted with skills that deserve enhancing, or if they have special needs, you must anticipate having extraordinary expenses included in child support.
Because extraordinary expenses aren’t customary, you and your spouse must clearly enumerate these in your Separation Agreement and Parenting Plan. You must also agree on how the support payments are made. Some parents prefer to handle extraordinary expenses as they come up (to be paid when needed), while others estimate a monthly average of these costs.
Determining The Amount Of Child Support Expenses
To determine the amount of monthly support payments, Colorado courts follow a mathematical formula called “child support guidelines.” This formula takes into account certain factors such as your gross monthly income, number of children, spousal maintenance (if applicable), and the amount of time you spend with your child. These factors are entered into the “guideline worksheets”, which are tools to calculate the total amount of support.
The amount of basic expenses is already set by Colorado’s Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations. This schedule is found in your Form JDF 1822 (see page 8 of this PDF). You and your spouse will decide which expenses are included in this amount, and the rest would be considered extraordinary expenses. Note, however, that any expense that is not included in the worksheet may not be as easy to enforce. You will have to ensure that they are expressly stated in your Parenting Plan.
Child support coverage and determination in Colorado involve some intricate rules. These are meant to ensure that your child is supported in the most appropriate and enforceable manner. If you have any concern regarding child support, it’s best to discuss it with a knowledgeable family lawyer.