In Colorado, child support is based upon a mathematical formula as detailed in Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-115. The typical factors with the most impact on the formula are the number of overnight visits each year for each parent, each parents' gross monthly income, daycare costs and the health insurance cost for each child. The Court can decide to not use the mathematical formula number, but it is not the norm for the court to ignore the formula. The court has to make specific findings that the formula number is unjust and to deviate from the formula number is not a shirk of the responsibility of either parent. There are several sets of appropriate circumstances where a deviation can be appropriate. It is wise to speak with an attorney to see if your unique situation would justify a lower than normal child support amount.
Once established child support can be changed as often as necessary due to changes in the parties' circumstances such as gross income changes, parenting time changes, health insurance cost changes, other children a parent is financially responsible for and daycare cost changes. For the Court to order a change in child support, the new child support amount, created in the formula using the changed values, must be different than the existing child support number by more than 10% either up or down. When a motion for child support is granted by the court the effective date can go back in time to when the motion to modify child support was filed.
Parties cannot agree to not pay each other child support just because they do not want to pay child support. The Court will look at the formula and decide if no child support is appropriate. Even when one parent is unemployed, a child support order will be issued and the court may impose the old income on the unemployed parent for the purpose of calculating child support. One cannot quit their job and take a lower paying job for the purpose of lowering their child support obligation. Typically child support is paid through a wage assignment paid to a State of Colorado sponsored agency know as Family Support Registry (FSR) who will then send the payment to the parent receiving child support. FSR keeps records of the amount paid, when it was paid and when it was paid out. Using FSR to keep track of child support payments is a good idea to avoid future disputes over what amount was paid in the past. It is a relatively free service with a low cost set up fee and no ongoing service fees.