In most cases, the court will follow a statutory formula to determine the amount of child support. The purpose of child support is not to punish one party or another but, rather, is based on the premise that both parents have an obligation to support their children financially. C.R.S. 14-10-115 lays out the guideline formula the court will consider.
A child support order will enter regardless of whether the parties are involded in a divorce, legal separation, or allocation of parental responsibilites matter. As long as paternity is not contested, then a child support order will enter. If paternity of the child is in question, if/when paternity is established, a child support order will enter. If the parties are in agreement, it is possible to deviate from the amount prescribed by the statutory formula if the parties can show that it is in the best interests of the child(ren).
The actual computation of the child support obligation involves plugging various numbers into a formula. The type of formula that is used is dependent on the number of overnights that a parent spends with their child(ren). If the number of overnight visits is less than 93, then Colorado uses what is called "Worksheet A," which denotes that the majority of the time, the child is with only one parent. If the non-majority time parent parent enjoys more than 92 overnight visits per year with the child(ren), then child support is calculated using "Worksheet B."
You will need the following types of information for the worksheet, regardless of whether Worksheet A or Worksheet B is used:
The gross income (before taxes are taken out) of each parent;
Any maintenance that is paid or received by the parents;
Any child support paid to others;
The number of children for whom support is calculated;
The number of children either party has that are not the parties' joint children;
The number of overnights enjoyed by each parent with the child(ren);
The cost of any work-related or education-related child care;
Amount paid for medical insurance premiums for the child(ren);
Any extraordinary medical expenses for the child(ren);
Any income of the child;
Travel expenses to enjoy parenting time (usually when the parents live in different states); and
Any travel expenses for a parent traveling with the child if the child is under 12 years of age.
Once all of this information is gathered and plugged into the appropriate worksheet, you and your attorney can discuss the numbers and ensure there are no other circumstances that would cause the court to deviate from the calculated child support obligation.
Maintenance (Spousal Support or Alimony)
Maintenance, also known as spousal support and formerly known as alimony, is when one party provides continued financial support to the other party after the divorce to assist in maintaining their reasonable and necessary financial needs.
There are two types maintenance. The first occurs during the divorce when the parties are still married. This is called temporary maintenance. The second type of maintenance is called permanent maintenance. Permanent maintenance can be ordered by the court (or contracted for between the parties) and lasts until a specific period of time has elapsed or certain circumstances occur. Thus, the term permanent is a bit of a misnomer as it does not necessarily mean that you will be paying maintenance forever. Rather, in this context permanent means that the maintenance obligation is part of the court's final orders or part of the parties' final agreement.
Temporary maintenance is a monthly amount ordered for support that is paid up until the time the court makes a final decision regarding all of the issues, or until the parties come to an agreement regarding all of the issues. The purpose of temporary maintenance is to keep the financial status quo so that no party is without access to financial resources. The court looks at nearly the same factors when determining temporary maintenance that it looks at when determining permanent maintenance.
Colorado adopted a statute that contains a non-exhaustive list of factors for the court to consider when determining if permanent maintenance is appropriate, including but not limited to:
The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to such party, and the party's ability to meet his or her needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party;
The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and that party's future earning capacity;
The standard of living established during the marriage;
The duration of the marriage;
The age and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
Colorado also has statutory guidelines that the court will review when determining what, if any, maintenance to order. It is important to remember that the guidelines are not mandatory, instead, they are a tool for the court to use in order to determine what a reasonable amount and term of maintenance might look like. The amount and term for maintenance payments orderd by a court is very case specific.
The parties can agree to contractual maintenance instead of leaving the decision to the court. Contractual maintenance can be non-modifiable or modifiable. If contractual maintenance is modifiable, either party can go back to the court to request a modification if there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstance e.g. a party becomes disabled. Non-modifiable maintenance cannot be modified and neither party can request any form of modification to the maintenance. If the parties leave maintenance to be decided by the court, then it is always modifiable.
When maintenance is awarded in cases where there are children it is considered income for the party who receives it and is subtracted from the income from the party who is paying it -- as a result maintenance impacts the calculation of child support.
Lastly, there are tax ramifications to both parties that come with maintenance. Maintenance cases can be difficult, and it is rarely a good idea to present a maintenance case or defend one on your own.