By Jennifer L. Hochstein
Attorney At Law
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC
The basic determination of child support is based upon a guideline which uses the parents’ combined adjusted gross income. The purpose of looking at the parents’ combined gross income is to determine how funds would have been allocated to the children if the parents and children were living in an intact household. In addition to looking at the parents’ gross income there are other considerations that can be included on the child support worksheet which ultimately affect the child support award.
The biggest factors affecting child support are the following:
Number of Children: The child support calculation is based on the number of children of the parents’ and what the parenting time schedule will be (see number of overnights below). Additionally, the worksheet also factors in whether or not the parents have children from other relationships and what type of support is either received or paid for those children.
Number of Overnights: If either parent has 93 or more overnights per year child support will be calculated using Worksheet B which will result in a lower child support amount. If either parent has 92 or less overnights per year Worksheet A will be used and child support amount will be a higher.
Child Care (work or school related): Child care costs can dramatically affect a child support calculation particularly when the children are young. Some parties choose not to include daycare costs on the worksheet but rather make agreements to split the cost of childcare. It would be beneficial to run the numbers in either scenario to see what is most cost effective for both parties. Another consideration to including child care costs on the worksheet is whether or not a child may no longer need daycare in the near future such as the child is transitioning into Kindergarten. In that situation it may be beneficial to keep the daycare cost off the worksheet rather than attempt a modification of child support once that expense changes. Be aware that there are two categories of child care, work or school related (as in a parent is in school) that is because the federal tax credit applies only to work related child care expenses. That credit is applied to any work related child care expenses entered into the child support worksheet.
Health Insurance: Whichever parent provides health insurance for the children will receive credit for that expense on the worksheet. Be aware that ONLY the child’s portion of the insurance shall be included on the worksheet. For example if the monthly cost for a family of four is $200, and that covers two children, the children’s portion of the insurance would be $50 per child, or $100 total. There may be a situation where Mother is covering dental insurance and Father is covering medical insurance, each parent receives credit on the worksheet for the expenses paid for the child’s portion of the insurance.
Extraordinary Medical: This factor will only apply in fairly extreme circumstances where there is a recurring monthly extraordinary medical expense. For example if the child takes medication that costs $25 (out of pocket) EACH month, that expense should be included. Typically, extraordinary medical expenses will not be included on the worksheet as they do not occur each month and are difficult to predict when they will occur. However, if your child has a medical condition that incurs recurring monthly expenses those should be included.
Extraordinary Expenses: Just as in extraordinary medical expenses, general extraordinary expenses apply only in rare circumstances. For example if parents’ choose to send their children to private school this may be the appropriate category to include private school tuition. This may also apply for example, if your child is a world class gymnast and has recurring monthly expenses related to her sport. Including those fees may be appropriate in this category.
Spousal Maintenance: Spousal maintenance will be treated as income to the spouse receiving it and will be a deduction to the spouse paying it.
Determining child support is not as straightforward as it may seem by just “plugging” numbers into a worksheet. How to determine what constitutes gross income (and what is not included in gross income) is a whole other topic in itself. Here at The Gasper Law Group, PLLC your attorney can assist you in determining the amount of child support you may receive or the amount of child support you may owe. To play with the child support worksheets and get an idea of what it looks like and how the numbers work visit: http://www.courts.state.co.us/Forms/Forms_List.cfm?Form_Type_ID=94