Just like in other states, when the parents of a Colorado child are no longer living in the same household and directly working together for that child's needs, a court will likely order one parent to pay child support to the other parent. Usually, the parent who spends most of the time taking care of the child will receive child support, while the other parent will pay it.
Again like other states, Colorado has adopted child support guidelines which largely control how much child support a court will order, although a judge does have at least some discretion to deviate from these guidelines, particularly when one parent has a low monthly income for reasons beyond his or her control. The idea of these guidelines is to ensure consistency in child support and, more important, to make sure a child has the financial support he or she needs and neither parent is overburdened financially.
As a starting point, the child support guidelines in Colorado consider each parent's gross income and will apportion child support according to that income. The guidelines will also apportion child care, uninsured medical expenses, and health insurance premiums, as the guidelines consider each of these a shared responsibility. The guidelines will also make appropriate formulaic adjustments for the number of times a child actually spends overnight at each parent's home.
Just because the child support calculation is formulaic, it doesn't mean that there are not significant legal issues surrounding child support. Oftentimes, the raw numbers that go in to the child support formula, especially each parent's income, are hotly disputed. Of course, parents should also remember that they have some flexibility in creating their own child support plan that suits everyone involved.