What Does Child Support Cover?
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In Colorado, child support covers expenses related to a child’s food, clothing, housing, public school education, and health insurance. While these are basic expenses, there are more specific costs associated with each category. For example, when it comes to the general category of housing, child support is designed to contribute to costs for monthly mortgage or rent and utility bills where the child resides.
Child support can also cover specific costs like:
- Weekly grocery expenses for the children;
- School lunches;
- School supplies;
- Daycare costs for parents who work, if added to the child support worksheet.
To determine child support, the Court takes into account each party’s gross income and the statutory schedule of child support obligations.
What Other Expenses Does Child Support Cover?
Child support does not cover “extraordinary expenses.” These are costs that go beyond basic expenses, such as:
- School field trips;
- School or sports uniforms;
- Summer camps;
- Club or organization membership costs; and
- Costs to attend special or private schools to meet the particular educational needs of the child.
The Court even considers transportation costs for young children to travel between the homes of each parent for parenting time.
Some extraordinary costs are fixed monthly amounts, such as private lessons or tutoring. Other extraordinary expenses may come up unexpectedly, like a bill for a medical emergency.
These extraordinary expenses are added to the basic child support obligation, and parents divide the costs in proportion to their incomes.
What Medical Costs Does Child Support Cover?
An order for support should cover extraordinary medical expenses. Extraordinary medical expenses are those in excess of $250 per year per child for out of pocket expenses. Under state law, extraordinary medical expenses include reasonable costs for:
- Dental work, such as braces;
- Asthma treatments;
- Physical therapy;
- Vision care, including eyeglasses and contacts; and
- Any other uninsured chronic health problem.
The Court may also consider professional counseling or psychiatric therapy for diagnosed mental disorders as an extraordinary medical expense. Parents can add these expenses to their basic obligations and divide them in proportion to their adjusted gross incomes. Sometimes, parents decide to pay extraordinary expenses on their own, without the Court’s assistance.
How Do I Know How Much Child Support I Have to Pay to Cover These Expenses?
How much child support each parent must pay depends on several factors. Colorado has guidelines to ensure that parents pay a fair share of their income for their children’s needs. The guidelines include worksheets parents can use to calculate their share of child support.
Colorado determines child support based on the parents’ income. The guidelines take into account all of the parents’ income sources, including:
- Self-employment income;
- Pensions and retirement benefits;
- Trust income; and
Besides income, child support also considers which parent the child lives with most of the time. The Court will establish the amount of parenting time each parent has during the child custody process.
If you have questions about child support, contact Shapiro Family Law. Our family law attorneys have helped many families in the greater Denver area and throughout Colorado navigate a divorce.
What Happens If My Income Changes and I Cannot Follow the Original Child Support Order?
You may ask for a support and custody modification of your original child support order. Parents can ask for a modification when the resulting support results in at least a 10-percent increase or decrease from the original order. Income changes typically occur when:
- A parent loses their job or gets demoted;
- A parent finds a new job or received a promotion;
- One parent’s responsibility time increases and the child spends more nights with them; or
- Health insurance coverage changes.
If your income has changed-or you have reason to believe your ex-spouse’s income has shifted-we can help you seek a post-decree modification of your child support order.
How Can I Get Help Understanding Child Support in Colorado?
Colorado child support may appear complex, but Shapiro Family Law can help you understand what it covers. Call us today at 303-695-0200 to schedule an appointment with one of our child support lawyers.
We handle all aspects of family law, so we can answer your questions and help you with any other issue you have arising from a divorce or separation.