Child support is one of the most important and controversial issues to arise in many Denver divorce and custody proceedings. Child support payments, which cover the costs of raising dependent children under the age of nineteen, are regulated directly by the court. Some parents believe they can assume complete control of child support arrangements if they come to an agreement out-of-court, but the truth is not so simple.
Say you and the other parent have agreed to perform a buy-out for the remainder of any child support payments one parent owes the other. Is it possible to make the payment in such a way that future child support is rendered effectively unnecessary in the eyes of the law? Would a lump sum payment like this be subject to any taxes? To learn more about child support laws and the ability of parents to enter non-standard arrangements in the state of Colorado, continue reading or call (720) 608-2361 to schedule an initial consultation with the Denver family law attorneys at Halligan LLC.
Child Support Guidelines in Colorado
If Colorado has jurisdiction over a parent who is responsible for child support, state courts will decide the amount of child support owed based on the parenting time schedule, each party’s gross monthly incomes, and other factors. To make this determination, the court will follow child support guidelines described in Colorado law. These guidelines allow child support payments to be calculated based on factors, such as:
- Each parents’ gross income
- Any income earned by the child
- The time the child spends with each parent
- The child’s insurance, medical, or orthodontic costs
- School- or work-related daycare costs for the child
- Private school expenses for the child
- The child’s travel costs for time with parents
Child support payments are intended to try and have the child experience a lifestyle at each home that is similar to what they would have experienced if the parents stayed together.
Since the receiving parent has the freedom to spend funds as they see fit, child support is often a thorny topic among separated parents. So, is it possible for one parent to pay their co-parent a lump sum and get it all over with?
Deviating from Child Support Guidelines
The state of Colorado considers child support payments to be a child’s right, so the court is unlikely to approve agreements between separated parents that deviate substantially from Colorado’s child support guidelines. Also, state law specifically provides that the court has the ultimate authority to determine the child support obligation and amount, whether or not parents agree to a specific child support amount (or to no child support).
A court may choose to deviate from state guidelines, but not without just cause. Since the court is required to give specific reasons for any deviation, and no law in Colorado supports a “lump sum” or “buy-out” child support arrangement, the court is unlikely to approve such an agreement and may even be prohibited from doing so.
More importantly, since the court retains authority to modify child support payments at any time, even formal language in a written agreement between parents would hold no legal weight. Especially in cases with a significant amount of time left for payment obligations, this kind of arrangement could leave parents exposed in the future. If one parent decides to ask the court to modify child support at a later date, the court could still do so for appropriate reasons, whether or not a buy-out previously occurred.
Do You Need a Denver Child Support Attorney?
Whether or not you’re currently attempting to modify child support arrangements, keep in mind that your ex may change their mind at any time. Also, Colorado courts have the authority to make modifications to child support payments for as long as a support obligation is owing. A change in circumstances could be grounds to modify any child support agreements, even if they were previously filed with the court.
Financial disputes have a way of making things emotional and complicated, so having an experienced, neutral third-party on your side makes a big difference. A child support attorney can communicate with the other parent and others on your behalf, help you evaluate the lawful options available to you, and ensure the best interests of your children stay in focus. To start taking effective action in your child support case, contact the Colorado legal team at Halligan LLC by calling (720) 608-2361 or filling out our online form.