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Child Support and Parenting Time

FAQs

 

Children          Paternity          Step Parent Adoption          Grandparents Rights

 

Children

Paternity

Step Parent Adoption

Grandparents Rights

 

Answers

Q: Is it illegal for my wife to leave the children home alone while she is at work?

A: There is currently no statute that addresses the age at which a child may remain unsupervised in the home. Social Services, however, may intervene if the child is under 12, or if the child is committing acts
of violence or destroying property.

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Q: How do I initiate a Grandparents Rights case?

A: In order to file an action for grandparent's rights, there generally needs to be either an existing Court action open, such as a divorce or a custody case, between the parents, or to allege that the child has been in the grandparent's physical custody for at least 6 months.

If either or both of these situations are applicable, the grandparent has the right to petition the Court to order visitation with the child. Generally, speaking there are due process presumptions that a parent has the right to determine the scope of grandparent visitation. To rebut this, clear and convincing evidence must be submitted to the court that shows that a visitation schedule with the grandparent is in the child's best interest.

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Q: My husband took our son to Mexico last weekend without my consent. Is that illegal?

A: Some parenting plans require that a parent get approval from the other parent prior to travel. You should review the parenting plan to see what travel provisions it specifies. If it is silent on such issues then no formal requirements must be followed, but as a matter of courtesy, the parent should provide the other party ample notice and an itinerary of all travel plans.

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Q: I want to file for custody in CO, but how do I prove we have been here for at least 180 days?

A: Generally you will only have to prove that the child has been
residing in Colorado for 6 months if the other party contests this fact.
In order to prove residency you would provide testimony and supporting
documentation (i.e. day care receipts, doctor visit receipts, etc.)
showing that the child has been living in Colorado for the last 6
months.

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Q: My husband is physically abusive to me and our children. I want to take them out of state so we can be safe and live closer to my family. Do I have to let him know where we are?

A: Generally, parties are required to either obtain the consent of the
Court or the permission of other party prior to relocating.

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Q: My ex has been threatening me and I am afraid of him. Can I prevent him from seeing our children even though our orders state that he has visitation with them every other weekend?

A: You may have a basis to request a temporary restraining order to prevent your ex-husband from contacting you, however, nothing you say suggests that he may be a danger to the children which means the restraining order might not allow you to stop his visits with the children. Unless you file to modify the agreement, you have to continue to obey the Courts order. However, if you choose to modify the parenting plan, you can attempt to make specific provisions regarding not allowing him to contact the home, or communicate with you while making disparaging or threatening comments.

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Q: Other than filing contempt citations against my ex for failing to pay his child support, what else I can do?

A: Under Colorado law, a child support obligation is different from
other monetary obligations because it becomes a judgment the moment it is due. Child support payments are reduced to judgment when they become due and are immediately enforceable through processes such as wage garnishments.

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Q: My child lives with me most of the time. Is the father of my child, also responsible for the medical bills incurred by our child?

A: Generally speaking the statute states that the parent who has
primary parenting responsibilities pays the first $250 of extra-ordinary medical expenses per year. The remaining expenses are either divided proportionally to the parties' income, or split evenly.

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Q: I claimed my girlfriends' children on my tax return last year. If we separate, will I have to pay child support?

A: You cannot be held liable for child support just by claiming the
children on your tax returns. Child support is the obligation of the
biological parents unless the child has been adopted.

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Q: My two children live with my former wife and our agreement allows me to see them on weekends. Last week she said they are moving out of state. Can she do this?

A: You need to review your divorce paperwork to see if there is a
provision that addresses taking the children out of state. If there is
no such provision for her to move and take the children, you will need
to litigate the matter.

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Q: I have filed for divorce and now my wife is threatening to take the children out of state. Can she do this without my consent?

A: Once a divorce action has been filed, neither party can take the
children out of state unless they have permission from the other parent or by Court order.

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Q: Is my 15 year old daughter old enough to decide on which parent with whom she would like to reside?

A: In Colorado there is not a specified age at which a child can
determine the parent with whom they choose to live. You can file a
motion with the Court requesting a modification, in which case the
child's wishes can be considered, but that does not guarantee the Judge will rule in favor of the child's request. To what extent the Court
takes the child's wishes into consideration completely depends on the
child' maturity, the reasonableness of the request, and to what extent
the Court perceives the child's wishes as his own and not a request that
has been influenced by the parent.

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Q: Do the Courts award parental responsibilities differently when the parents never married?

A: Regarding matters involving parenting issues, the Courts use the
same standards for married and unmarried couples.

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Q: How does the Court define the "Decision Making" portion of the parenting agreement?

A: Decision making responsibility is the part of the parenting plan
that addresses major decisions, like religion, education, medical care,
extra curricular activities, etc. Day to day decisions such as hygiene,
diet, clothing, etc. is made by the parent who is caring for the child
that day.

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Q: How do Courts determine how much time the children spend with each parent?

A: Parenting time is decided based on what is in the best interest of
the children. Multiple factors are considered, and include the age of
the child, the physical distance between the parents' residences, and
the child's physical, emotional, and educational needs. If either party
has a criminal history, that is likely to be relevant, as well as the
parents' ability to maintain a respectful relationship, and to promote
healthy parent-child interactions.

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Q: My salary is $30k per year. Do I have to include my commissions as well in the child support calculations?

A: Income from all sources, including commissions, is to be included in
the computation of child support.

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Q: How does the Court calculate child support?

A: The amount of child support depends on the gross monthly income of both parties and the number of overnights each party has with each child. Expenses associated with childcare, health care, insurance, and other extraordinary expenses also apply. By statute, the amount is often calculated using computerized child support software and calculators, and the resulting amount is used as a guideline to determine child support. To use the calculator, please access the following website:  

http://www.courts.state.co.us/chs/court/forms/domestic/electronicworksheets.htm

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Q: When a parent has children from a previous relationship, how is child support handled when he or she is paying support for those children?

A: At the time of the initial establishment of a child support order, or in any proceeding to modify a support order, if a parent is also legally responsible for the support of other children for whom the parents do not share joint legal responsibility, an adjustment shall be made revising the parent's income prior to calculating the basic child support obligation for the children who are the subject of the support order if the children are living in the home of the parent seeking the adjustment or if the children are living out of the home, and the parent seeking the adjustment provides documented proof of money payments of support of those children. The amount shall not exceed the schedule of basic support obligations listed in this section. For a parent with a gross income of one thousand eight hundred fifty dollars or less per month, the adjustment shall be seventy-five percent of the amount calculated using the low-income adjustment described in sub-subparagraphs (B) and (C) of subparagraph (II) of paragraph (a) of subsection (7) of this section based only upon the responsible parent's income, without any other adjustments for the number of other children for whom the parent is responsible. For a parent with gross income of more than one thousand eight hundred fifty dollars per month, the adjustment shall be seventy-five percent of the amount listed under the schedule of basic support obligations in paragraph (b) of subsection (7) of this section that would represent a support obligation based only upon the responsible parent's income, without any other adjustments for the number of other children for whom the parent is responsible. The amount calculated as set forth in this subparagraph (I) shall be subtracted from the amount of the parent's gross income prior to calculating the basic support obligation based upon both parents' gross income, as provided in subsection (7) of this section.

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Q: My ex-girlfriend recently gave birth to our son. I want to be a
part of his life, but she will not allow me to see him. What can I do?

A: A paternity action can be filed with the Courts in the county in
which your former girlfriend and son currently reside. As part of the
paternity action, you can also request a DNA test. If you file an
allocation of parental rights, the Court will enter orders concerning
parental responsibilities, parenting time, and child support.

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Q: Is there a law that addresses children of the opposite sex sharing a bedroom?

A: There is no law regarding opposite sex children sharing rooms. However the court will determine whether or not this is acceptable based on the best interest standard and likely take into account the age of the children sharing rooms, financial resources and any available alternatives to the arrangement.

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Q: Can I garnish my former wife's wages to obtain arrearages on child support?

A: In the State of Colorado, you can enter an income assignment, or garnishment, with your former wife's employer. Subsequently, The Family Support Registry will monitor and transfer the payments directly to you.

 

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Q: My ex-husband is trying to modify the amount of child support he pays because he quit his job. Will the Court reduce the amount of child support he was ordered to pay because he is voluntarily unemployed?

A: If the Court finds that your ex-husband is voluntarily unemployed, the Judge may impute, or assign, an income to him for purposes of determining the amount of child support to be paid.

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Q: Do I have to file to terminate child support when my child turns 19?

A: If the child support orders were issued after July 1, 1997 then child support automatically terminates once the child reaches 19. There is no need to formally file a motion to terminate, baring special circumstances, when this is the case.

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Q: Do I have to give my newborn the biological father's last name?

A: The issue of what the child's last name should be can be disputed in court if the biological father wants his name to be the child's last name. You have no legal obligation to change the child's last name at this time and in fact may need a court order to do so, but if the father wants the name changed he has the right to pursue that in court.

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Q: When child support is modified, what date does the change become effective?

A: You should file a Motion to terminate support if the child support order is not clear about what conditions must exist for the order to terminate. The Support Order usually states that support terminates at the age of emancipation barring special circumstances.

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Q: Do I have to notify my former wife that I will no longer be paying child support when our son turns 19 next month?

A: You should file a Motion to terminate support if the child support order is not clear about what conditions must exist for the order to terminate. The Support Order usually states that support terminates at the age of emancipation barring special circumstances.

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Q: Can my husband gain custody of our children just because I don't have an income right now?

A: The amount of income you earn is not relevant when deciding where the children will live. While some people may argue that having a job indicates stability, the best interests of the child will also be considered. There can be perfectly legitimate reasons for not having job, such as the tradeoff of working versus the day care costs involved.

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Q: Can I adopt my son's newborn daughter if he relinquishes his
parental rights? The mother passed away a year ago.

A: You can file to adopt your granddaughter if your son relinquishes his parental rights to the child.

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Q: What can I do about my ex-wife being consistently late for the parenting time exchange?

A: There is no law that addresses the length of time you should wait when a parent arrives late to pick up a child, but you should wait for what you consider to be a reasonable amount of time. If the other parent is chronically late, you can file to modify the parenting plan and create a stipulation that specifies timeliness, notice, and how long you will wait before making alternative arrangements.

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Q: My ex wants me to give up my paternal rights to our daughter so her new husband can take over as the father. Can I still visit my child if I consent to this?

A: The parental rights of the non-custodial birth parent are terminated in the step-parent adoption process. This means that his or her right to parenting time and the obligation to pay child support are extinguished.

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Q: I just filed for divorce and I want to take my children to visit my parents in California. Can I do that as long as I come back to Colorado for the final hearing?

A: In divorce cases, the automatic injunction restrains you from taking the children out of state without permission from the other person or unless you have a Court order.

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Q: My ex wife no longer works because she is being supported by her new husband. Can I modify my child support payments to her now that she is voluntarily unemployed?

A: Child support is only calculated using the custodial and non-custodial parent's income. The Court maintains the right to deviate from the guidelines if it believes it is justified, but in most cases the Court will follow the amount proscribed by these guidelines. If one parent is voluntarily underemployed because they have remarried and no longer need to work, it is possible for the Court to impute income to the non-working parent for child support purposes.

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Q: How do I prove that my wife has contributed to parental alienation?

A: The degree of a child's alienation from a parent is usually investigated by a Court appointed professional. The Judge then considers the resulting assessment and all suggestions about the creation of an appropriate parenting plan. If the other party is not abiding by the Court order, it is also possible to a motion for contempt to enforce the Court ordered parenting time.

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Q: How can I increase my Court ordered child support?

A: Generally, you can only modify child support when the end result will be 10% higher or lower than the current amount. Changes in the amount of income, daycare expenses, health care expenses, and changes in the amount of parenting time are all factors that can alter the amount of child support.

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Q: How long do I have to pay child support?

A: Generally, both parents have a financial obligation to support their children until they turn 19 or otherwise become emancipated.

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Q: What is a "Child and Family Investigator" (CFI)?

A: A "Child and Family Investigator", CFI, is an individual appointed
by the Court to conduct an investigation and make recommendations to the Court regarding parental decision making and parenting time. The CFI is usually a licensed therapist or has a background in psychology and/or counseling.

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Q: For what reasons can I modify my child custody in Colorado?

A: Colorado allows for Court ordered modifications of parenting plans if the Court finds that a change has occurred and the modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child. The statute sets a high standard for granting modifications and basically limits the granting of a modification to five reasons:

  1. Both parties agree to the modification;
  2. The child has been integrated into the family of the party requesting the modification;
  3. There has been a modification of parenting time;
  4. A party has consistently consented to the other party making decisions;
  5. Or the present situation would endanger the child's physical or emotional development and the advantages to changing the child's environment will outweigh the likely harm to the child as a result of having their environment changed.

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Q: What does child support cover?

A: Child support considers the parties gross monthly income, child care costs, health insurance costs, transportation costs (if any), and a variety of other factors.

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Q: Can child support be modified based on a former spouses' imputed income?

A: Child support can be modified if there is a substantial and continuing change of circumstances at the time of filing that would result in a change of more than 10% in the amount of support due each month. See C.R.S. 14-10-122(b). To impute income, the court needs to first make a determination that a parent is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed. If the court makes this determination, child support shall be calculated based on a determination of potential income. See C.R.S 14-10-115(7)(b)(I). There are a multitude of factors that the court considers in determining whether a parent is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed and it is improper for a court to impute income absent factual findings. Nonetheless, the court may impute to the parent the income from her previous job and is not limited to only impute minimum wage.

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Q: How is paternity established in Colorado?

A: Paternity can be established by several methods:

  1. A judge or other judicial officer of a Colorado Court may enter an order.
  2. The county Child Support Enforcement Unit may also establish paternity, and unmarried parents can also sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the hospital when the child is born.

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Q: What are my rights as an unwed father in Colorado?

A: It is difficult to say with any certainty what rights an unwed father has prior to the determination of parental responsibility. This is one of the reasons why the father should submit to a paternity test after the child is born. Since Colorado favors the involvement of both parents, the Court usually gives each parent at least some parenting time. Parents have constitutional rights to determine how their children are raised, but in Colorado those rights are balanced against the best interests of the child.

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Q: Does the Acknowledgment of Paternity form give the biological father of my child custody or visitation rights?

A: Although custody issues are determined by the Court, visitation terms can be arranged informally between the mother and the father.

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Q: What are the Legal Grounds for Step-Parent Adoption?

A: Legal grounds for a step-parent adoption require either:

  • The consent, or voluntary surrender, of all parental rights, by the non-custodial birth parent, or
  • The involuntary termination by the Court of the non-custodial parents' rights based upon non-support or abandonment.

If the birth parent whose rights are sought to be terminated consents to the step-parent adoption, he or she will file the consent with the Court. If he or she does not agree, Colorado law requires that a showing be made that the child has been abandoned either financially or emotionally and it is in the best interests for that parent's rights to be terminated. An affidavit must be provided indicating that the other birth parent has abandoned the child for a period of at least one year, or has failed without cause to provide reasonable support for such child for a period of one year or more; and ultimately providing testimony regarding the same.

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Q: My wife of 3 years wants to adopt my daughter from a prior marriage. We have not heard from the biological mother in over a year and are unsure of her whereabouts. How do we proceed?

A: When a parent has had no contact with his or her child for a period of one year, and/or has not paid child support for at least one year, evidence of the biological parent's abandonment of the child can create grounds for the step-parent adoption.

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Q: Can I get visitation with my grand kids if the parents say "no"?


A: You can file for Grandparent visitation if there is a former case involving the children. A case could be allocation of parental responsibilities, a divorce, or other such cases.

The standard to meet the visitation requirement is relatively high. You will have to overcome the presumption that the fit parent's (presumably mother's) decision regarding your time with the kids is not in their best interest and then submit a proposed visitation plan that is in their best interest.

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Q: Do Grandparents have the right to see their grandchildren even if the parents will not allow visitation?

A: A grandparent has the right to petition for visitation if the parents are divorced or separated. However, in order to rebut due process presumptions in favor of the parent deciding on appropriate visitation with the grandparents, the grandparents must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the visitation schedule they seek, and not the visitation schedule the parent seeks, is in the best interests of the child.

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