The best way to keep a Child Custody case from becoming confrontational is to be extremely detailed. This provides certainty and security for both parties involved.

Calculation of Child Support

The focus of my law practice is to SAVE CHILDREN AND RESTRUCTURE FAMILIES

The Colorado legislature gave us a formula for child support. We can argue about how fair the numbers are but very rarely do we hear people complain about the structure and its function.

The Colorado child support formula takes the gross incomes of the parties, allows for certain deductions from those incomes and adds them together. From the combined adjusted gross income, a “lifestyle” (our word, not the law’s) number for the child is identified from the database. We imagine the “lifestyle” number to be the children’s share of the income.

Next, the “lifestyle” number is apportioned to each parent, based on the number of overnights and a percentage of their contribution to the combined income. What you’re left with after this stage, is what each parent owes to the “lifestyle” number – we call it the “parent’s share”.

Then the parents get certain deductions from their respective “parent’s share”. These deductions are sometimes straight forward, like daycare expenses and children’s share of health insurance premiums. But other times, these deductions are less clear, like summer camp, reading programs, tutors, and private school tuition.

At the end of the formula, after these deductions are taken, the “parent shares” are compared and a final child support number is kicked out.

Primary Factors for Child Support calculations

  • Respective gross incomes of the parties
  • Number of overnights
  • Heath insurance premiums (children’s portion)
  • Work related childcare expenses
  • Any maintenance obligation a party might have or receive
  • Other child support payments made or received

Each of these factors may play an important role in determining a support obligation. It is important to carefully review each one with your lawyer to determine its impact on the calculation.

The parenting time side of the equation deals with dates, times, places and scheduling in general. Things like how the week will be split up between the two homes, where transitions will occur, what are the arrangements for holiday parenting time, and summer schedules are common elements of a parenting time plan. These plans may also include transportation issues and costs.

Many parents begin with the best of intentions and believe that being detailed in a parenting plan is too restrictive, or confrontational. They don’t really need it, they think. Yet the best way to keep it from becoming confrontational is, in fact to be extremely detailed. This provides certainty and security. If things come up on a day-to-day basis you can always make changes to the parenting time by agreement of the parties.

In our experience, the more detail a plan contains, the more likely it is to endure without conflict later, and the less detailed the plan, the more likely unanticipated circumstances will arise and lead to conflict.

Idea behind “Decision Making”

Who decides which school a child attends, which church they go to, which doctor they see? These decisions are huge and have lasting effects on the well-being and development of a child. So important are these decisions, courts separately consider each parent’s ability to make wise decisions for the child and allocates, between the parents, decision making responsibility.

Since a person’s skill and experience with decision making is generally not directly related to their parenting time, the law wants to take a separate and distinct look at the process of decision making for the minor kids and determine if the parents are able to work together on all decisions, or whether the decision making responsibility should be divided up.

Notice we use the word responsibility when it comes to decision making. Making these decisions on behalf of your kids is a serious and thoughtful responsibility – it is not a right or a trophy to be fought over and “won” in a courtroom. In fact, approaching decision making arguments from this perspective may demonstrate to a court your complete lack of ability to make sound decisions!

Another consideration for determining decision making can be a review of how the family reached decisions before the divorce began. How did the parents select the doctor, the school, or the day care? Just because one parent may have done all the leg work in gathering the information and reviewing candidates, doesn’t necessarily mean they are better decision makers, but reminding each other of the processes you used during the marriage may be useful in developing functional process for application after the divorce.

 Fighting over Custody

“Custody” battles can be the most expensive aspect of any Colorado family case. Not only do these conflicts exhaust bank accounts, they can work irrevocable harm on the parties and the children. Entering into a high conflict custody case should be a carefully considered option with realistic goals.

Financially, the attorney fees and other expert witness fees associated with contested “custody” can easily exceed $30,000 and in some cases, enter into the hundreds of thousands of dollar range. While some cases are far less than this amount, you simply cannot underestimate the cost of fighting over issues like parenting time and decision making.

Yet there is no doubt that many of these fights are legitimate and necessary. There’s no escaping a conflict when you feel your child is endangered, or when the other parent makes false accusations. In these, and many other, circumstances parents have little choice but to engage in a legal battle. In those cases, it becomes even more important to use cost saving measures