Article by: Brett W. Martin, Esq.
Calculating Child Support in Colorado
Calculation of child support in Colorado would seem to be fairly straight-forward because of the use of Child Support Worksheets that are Excel based spreadsheets with embedded formulas. The issues that arise, however, are how to determine what numbers to use in filling out the worksheet. The purpose of this Blog is to explore and discuss those issues.
The Colorado Child Support Worksheet is found at this link: electronic support worksheets
The worksheet comes with a number of instructions on how to fill it out. The Colorado Legislature has enacted a statute that the worksheet is based upon directing how child support is to be calculated.
The Colorado Child Support statute is found on this website at this link: C.R.S. § 14-10-115
An overview of how child support in Colorado is determined is found at this website link: Colorado Child Support
What the provisions of the Colorado child support statute, C.R.S. § 14-10-115, mean and how they are applied are matters of dispute, interpretation and subject to being ruled upon by the courts. In Colorado, the courts are called upon to determine what the legislature intended by enacting the statute and how the various provisions of the statute are to be applied to any particular case. The appellate courts - the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court - review the rulings of trial courts and issue decisions regarding the meaning of the statute and whether the trial court properly applied it to the facts of the case. The decisions of the appellate courts provide direction to the trial courts on how to interpret and give effect to the statute. The appellate court decisions are generally referred to as the Common Law, or judge-made law. Lawyers and trial court judges look to the appellate court decisions for guidance on how to interpret the statute when computing child support.
Not all of the child support calculation questions that arise have answers that are carved in stone. Sometimes, even if there appears to be an answer, it is subject to being disputed, qualified or occasionally ignored. Trial court judges and magistrates are given considerable discretion in their interpretation of the facts in any particular case. What the facts are, is something that must be proven by the litigants. The trial court, once it hears and believes the facts, is required to apply those facts to the law: the child support statute as enacted by the legislature and interpreted by the appellate courts. Occasionally, the Colorado legislature disagrees with what the courts have ruled or how the courts have been interpreting the statute and will make changes to the statute that override the court's ruling or clarify and further define their intent regarding the meaning of the statute.
If all of this sounds a bit fuzzy and like a moving target, rest assured that it is!
The articles in this Blog will explore some of the legal issues that arise in a contested child support determination case, the rulings by the appellate courts on the topic and what may really happen in the trial court. There is a mixture of legal interpretation and the author's opinion on the issues discussed. The reader should only consider the information as commentary and not as legal advise for any particular case, including the reader's case! The reader is cautioned to consult a lawyer about their particular situation and how the law may apply to their case.
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Martin Law FirmFather's Rights Attorneys
Friday 24 May
Child Support in Colorado