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How does child support work in Colorado?

In Colorado, the state Department of Human Services ensures that children receive a fair share of financial resources from both parents, regardless of whether they divorced or were never married. Generally, the ordered child support amount is about 20% of the combined gross income of both parents.

If you are a single parent in Colorado, follow these steps to understand the state’s child support process.

Applying for services

If you do not yet have a legal child support order for a minor child, you can apply for child support services with your county office online, in person or through the mail. With this application, you can request services that include establishing paternity, locating a noncustodial parent, establishing a child support order and/or enforcing the terms of an existing order. Once a support order is in effect, the support is mandatory until the child turns 19 and has graduated high school.

Understanding support calculations

To determine the amount of child support, the court considers the monthly gross income of both parents as well as the number of monthly overnights the child spends with each parent. Medical insurance, medical expenses and child care costs also play a role in the support order, as do extenuating circumstances. For example, a noncustodial parent who earns less than $1,900 a month may receive a low-income adjustment to his or her child support order. You can calculate your estimated support amount using Colorado’s online worksheet.

If a parent does not work, the court can infer his or her income and use the wages he or she could likely earn if working full-time. The court does not use this method for parents who care for children younger than 30 months, who have a disability or who are full-time students.

Either a custodial or noncustodial parent can request child support services. If you do not have custody, doing so can help establish your legal parental rights.