Understanding Colorado Child Support

Colorado Child Support

How does Colorado child support work?

Colorado child support is the right of the child involved. The amount a parent pays in Colorado child support is outlined in the state’s child support guidelines. Colorado child support depends on the amount of money a non-custodial parent “would have” spent on the child if the couple was still together.

When parents get divorced or child support is calculated, it is the non-custodial parent that pays the custodial parent a monthly amount. The non-custodial parent is the parent that has fewer contact hours with the child than the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the parent that the child lives with. In some cases, parents split custody, meaning that the child lives 50% of the time with one parent and 50% of the time with the other parent.

Colorado child support calculator

Colorado child support guidelines use a formula that considers what the family would have spent on the child’s care if the parents hadn’t got divorced.

Courts take these factors into account when calculating how much child support is paid in Colorado:

  • The gross monthly income of both parents
  • The income of the child, if they work
  • The number of nights the child spends with each parent
  • Significant expenses made on the child, these include: Health insurance, daycare, school tuition, dentist bills, additional medical expenses, travel and transportation, and much more.

What is child support based on in Colorado?

In Colorado, we have a formula for child support, and that makes it a whole lot easier than it might be in a different state where they don’t have a formula because there’s less things to argue about regarding child support.

The state is very clear about what it is that goes into the formula. And all there is to argue about in child support is the facts, right, that go into the formula. So, for instance, in Colorado, the child support formula includes the gross income of each of the parties.

Well, you could argue about that, right? You could say, well, in Colorado actually it does include your bonus or does that include overtime. In Colorado, it does include overtime as long as that overtime is required. So there are some things that one could argue about regarding what is my actual gross income?

Of course, if you own a business, well, then there’s a real argument about what your income is, because if you own a business, then it’s your gross income minus all the expenses of the business. So that’s one piece of the child support formula.

Colorado child support formula

Child support in Colorado is calculated based on a formula that the legislature has told us to use and they’ve got a huge spreadsheet and a computer program that you take certain parts of the parents financial information and you plug it into their spreadsheet and it kicks out a number for you.


So it’s a standardized form, which is very helpful because then you you tend not to fight too much over child support. You can fight over which numbers go into the child support formula. But at the end of the day, it’s a lot simpler to use this formula that the legislature has come up with, right or wrong.


Parenting time and Child Support in Colorado


Another argument about child support calculation in Colorado is parenting time. That means how many overnight’s a year does each parent have? That’s something that you’d have to agree on. Or if you couldn’t agree on it, a judge would have to make that determination.


So let’s just say you had 50 50 custody. That would be the each of you would have an equal number of overnights with the children. So that’s something else that people could argue about. How many overnight should one parent have? How many hours overnight should another parent have?


There are a number of other things that go into the formula, but they’re minor in comparison to the first two. If there are medical expenses for the child who’s paying for the medical insurance, child care expenses? So there are other things that go into the formula as well. Once that formula is determined, then the court will approve child support based on that formula. If you can’t agree on what goes into the formula, then again, it has to go to court for a judge to determine what actually are the facts that are going to go into the formula.


What is sole physical custody and Colorado child support?

Sole physical custody is defined as a child that lives with the custodial parent for 273 nights or more a year. Therefore, the non-custodial parent has 92 or fewer nights with the child sleeping over.


In cases of child support, it is assumed that the custodial parent pays there half of child support through caring for the child on a regular basis. The custodial parent’s obligation to take care of the child a majority of the time means they spend money on the child throughout the month.


What is Colorado child support used for?


Child support is intended to cover the cost of raising the child by the custodial parent. Items that child support payments should cover include clothing, food, housing, and other basic needs of the child. In cases of extraordinary costs, the mother and father are intended to divide the payment according to proportion of their combined monthly gross incomes.


Unfortunately, many parents argue over the amount of child supported needed. The non-custodial parent often feels aggrieved of the amount they pay. Often, they believe the custodial parent is not using the money appropriately to take care of the child. In contrast, the custodial parent, or receiving parent, doesn’t believe the money is enough and fails to cover the cost of raising the child.


In most cases, the custodial parent determines how child support is spent. Non-custodial parents can make the non-custodial parent more accountable for the money and how it is spent. They can ask the court to require the custodial parent to account for the money that is spent each month to prove it is going on the child.


Can you be punished for not paying  CO child support?


In Colorado, a parent does not lose their rights to parent even if they miss child support payments. However, a parent may:


  • Lose the right to request accounting for child support finances
  • Lose tax exemption for their child
  • Lose their driver’s license, income tax refund, and/or business license
  • Be fined
  • Be jailed
  • Bank account seizure
  • Withhold income
  • Liens on property
  • Negative impact on credit score
  • Passport application denial


A custodial parent does not have the legal right to stop the non-custodial parent from seeing the child due to not paying child support. Parents must make their monthly child support payments on time and for the appropriate amount.


How long does a non-custodial parent have to pay Colorado child support?


A non-custodial parent pays child support in Colorado until the child reaches the age of 19. Child support payments may continue until the child is 21-years old depending on if he/she is still in high school. A child with physical and/or mental disabilities can continue to receive child support past the age of 21.

Changing the Colorado child support order


Parents can request a Colorado court to review their child support order. A judge can either modify the order to increase or decrease the amount of child support paid and received. Parents will be able to provide information during the court’s decision-making process.


The court will review the case and determine if there is a valid cause to alter the original child support order. In each case, the court will decide if it is in the child’s best interest to increase or decrease the amount.  Child Support determinations are a standard process of Divorce in Colorado.


Fill in Colorado child support form


The Colorado petition for child support is the form required for Colorado residents seeking child support and / or custody of their  children through the court. This petition must be filed in order to obtain a court order for child support in the state of Colorado.


The Colorado petition for child support form should be filed when two parties come to an agreement for the support of their children. Should support be contested, additional forms will need to be filed, along with additional court proceedings.


First, fill out the case caption information at the top of the form indicate the court where the case is being heard and the names of the petitioners. If represented by an attorney, they must provide their name and contact information supplied the case. No division and courtroom for parts one and two put the full information of both the petitioner and the petitioner of the child or children whom custody of is to be determined.


Supply a current address, phone number, email address and military status for each parent. Indicate the relationship of each petitioner to the children.


If the children have been involved in any previous court proceedings, list them in parts eight and nine. If any parties who are not petitioners have current custody of the children, they must be identified in part ten. You must use part eleven to state why child custody and child support should be granted.


If the parents or the children have received any benefits from the Department of Human Services, this must be stated in part twelve with the case number and contact information for each instance. If any restraining or protection orders have been granted for or against the named parties, they must be disclosed to the court in part thirteen. Complete the form by certifying the petition. With both parties providing their signatures and contact information, a notary is required to complete the form.


If you are looking to pay less child support in Colorado, you will find more information here in the child support loopholes page.  If your ex is using dirty tricks to get out of paying child support, read the page on Colorado child support loopholes and you will find more information on what you can do to put a stop to it.


If you need to attend Colorado Family Court for your hearing you can find the Colorado Court List here.

Child Support Attorneys across Colorado, CO

Colodado Child Support

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Colorado Child Support Phone Number

The phone number for Colorado Child Support is: 303-299-9123

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Colorado Dept. of Child Support

In Colorado, Child Support is managed by Human Services. The Office of the Department of  Human Services in Colorado can be found here

Colorado Child Support Information

Colorado Child Support Statute Laws

The main child support law in Colorado are the C. R. S. § 14-10-115. Child support guidelines

The full guidelines can be downloaded here:

Editor in Chief - Child Support Hub at Child Support Hub LLC | Website | + posts

Mary Newman is a child support expert and the go-to authority on all matters related to child support on the ChildSupportHub.com website. With over 20 years of experience, Mary has developed a deep understanding of child support laws, regulations, and procedures, making her an invaluable free resource for parents navigating the complexities of child support. Her extensive experience has given her unique insights into the challenges that parents face when dealing with child support issues, and she is passionate about helping parents understand their rights and obligations. Mary is deeply committed to helping parents understand their options when it comes to child support. Mary's goal is to help parents achieve a fair and equitable child support arrangement that benefits both the children and the parents.