How Colorado Courts Calculate Child Support
Denver, CO (Law Firm Newswire) September 3, 2012 - Child support payments do not always remain the same. They may be varied by the courts.
“This case is a good example of the various circumstances that may result in a variation of child support. In re the MARRIAGE OF Scott WELLS, Appellant, and Carrie Wells, Appellee, Colorado Court of Appeals, Div. VII., the husband appealed an order modifying his child support for his two children and ordering that he pay extraordinary expenses, per section 14-10-115(11)(a)(I), C.R.S.2010, and pay attorney fees,” said Bill Thode, a Colorado divorce lawyer. The court affirmed that he must pay extraordinary expenses to his former wife and must pay attorney’s fees. They chose to reverse the child support provisions and remand the case for further hearings.
The former husband’s appeal suggests the trial court abused its discretion by way of determining child support for “each” of their two children and by ordering him to pay extraordinary expenses in regard to their son’s vehicle. Despite existing case law, the appeal court chose to hear de novo this child support order for abuse of discretion.
When parenting time is shared, the child support obligations are parceled out according to the number of nights a child stays with a parent, a provision laid out in section 14-10-115(8)(b), C.R.S.2010. However, if the parenting situation is varied and involves different times for each child, then the formula to determine child support is to be found by reading: In re the MARRIAGE OF James Lee QUAM, Appellee, and Bridget C. Quam, Appellant, Colorado Court of Appeals, Div. I.
“In Quam, the court found the number of the father’s overnight stays were to be allocated so he was not credited with a full overnight, when he did not have all three children at once. The court felt the Quam case best defined the legislative intent to divide support, according the amount of time spent in each parent’s custody,” Thode explained.
Based on Quam, the father’s child support obligations, who had overnight stays with only one of two children, would be credited for one half of an overnight for each time one child came to stay with him. Courts are free to deviate from established guidelines if applying an application for variation would be inappropriate, unjust or inequitable. However, specific reasons must be laid out for the deviation, a point covered in Combs v. Tibbitts, 148 P.3d 430, 434 (Colo.App.2006).
“In this case, the trial court deviated from the guidelines and used a multiple worksheet method to determine support. The amounts from each sheet were added together and adjusted downward, but no reasons were given for the adjustment,” added Thode.
The appeal court agreed with the appellant husband that, in using two sheets, the trial court acted as if the two children were each an only child. This is contrary to 14-10-115(7)(b), C.R.S.2010; and In re Marriage of Blanford, 937 N.E.2d 356, 361 (Ind. Ct.App.2010) and Soulsby v. Soulsby, 222 W.Va. 236, 664 S.E.2d 121, 131 (2008). By treating two children as if each were an only child, the court arrived at an inflated child support obligation.
Determining child support payments is difficult, and each case is different, with various circumstances that may change how the support is calculated. For this reason, the parties involved in such a dispute should contact an experienced Denver divorce and custody lawyer for legal advice.
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