When a child's parents live together, they decide between themselves how to pay for their child's expenses. When parents no longer live together, however, they each have a legal duty to financially support their children. Typically, the non-custodial parent (the parent with less visitation time) pays monthly child support to the custodial parent. Different factors affect the monthly child support amount in different states, and in some states, a parent's remarriage may affect child support.
This article explains how remarriage affects child support under Colorado law. If you have additional questions after reading this article, you should consult a local family law attorney.
Colorado courts can order parents to pay reasonable child support whenever parents of minor children separate. The Colorado Child Support Guidelines include a list of factors judges can consider when calculating a child support award:
Colorado uses an "Income Shares Model" to calculate child support. A judge will combine both parents' income, then use a percentage of the combined income to calculate a "basic child support obligation," which is how much the parents together should be spending on the child. The court then divides the basic child support obligation between the parents, based on their respective incomes. For example, if the father earns $40,000 per year, and the mother earns $60,000 per year (combined $100,000 per year), then the father is responsible for 40% of the child support while the mother is responsible for 60% of the support. Non-custodial parents pay their share of child support to custodial parents.
You can estimate your child support award online through the Colorado Child Support software application. You should be aware, though, that the court always has the power to adjust child support up or down based on the particular circumstances in your case.
For more general information about about Colorado child support laws, read Child Support in Colorado.
In Colorado, a parent's remarriage never directly affect child support. Colorado courts have clearly stated that a parent's remarriage isn't a reason to modify child support. In addition, judges don't consider a parent's new spouse's income relevant to a child support decision. It doesn't matter whether the custodial parent remarries or the non-custodial parent remarries, a new spouse's wealth has no impact on child support.
The only time a parent's remarriage affects child support is in the rare circumstance where a new spouse provides the parent money each month that could be considered income. For example, if a new husband gives his wife a trust that pays her $10,000 in cash each month just for spending money, a judge may consider that money income. The court won't consider it income, however, if the new spouse just pays for necessities like a mortgage, car note, groceries, or other household expenses.
Having new children, whether by birth or adoption, doesn't affect earlier child support orders. Courts won't allow parents to lower their financial obligations to their existing children by having more children.
On the other hand, a judge will consider an existing child support award when determining a subsequent child support order. For example, if a father pays $500 per month for child support of his 5 year-old child and has another child, the court may deduct the $500 payment from the father's monthly income when calculating child support for the second child. This way, the court can ensure that the parent has enough income to meet all of his or her child support obligations.
A judge can modify your child support award if there's been a significant and permanent change in one or both parents' financial circumstances. For example, if a parent loses a job or gets a large raise, the court may adjust child support accordingly. Judges may also modify child support if the child suddenly has additional, unanticipated needs, like high medical, educational, or special needs expenses.
Either parent can file a motion to modify child support with the county court clerk's office. The court will require both parents to attend a hearing to explain why child support should be modified or remain the same.
Prepare for your child support modification hearing by gathering any information you can regarding your financial resources and expenses, especially the child's expenses that you pay. The judge can order you and your child's other parent to exchange financial documents, and argue your position on changing child support. If the judge believes that child support should be modified, the court issues a revised child support order that takes effect immediately.
If you have additional questions about remarriage and child support, contact a Colorado family law attorney for help.