Calculating Child Support

Calculation of child support in Colorado would seem to be fairly straight-forward because of the use of Child Support Worksheets that are Excel based spreadsheets with embedded formulas.  The issues that arise, however, are how to determine what numbers to use in filling out the worksheet.

The Colorado Child Support Worksheet is found at this link: electronic support worksheets

Instructions on completing the worksheet published by the Colorado Judicial Department (PDF) are at this link: JDF-1822

The Colorado Child Support statute is found on this website at this link: C.R.S. § 14-10-115

An overview of how child support in Colorado is determined is found at this website link: Colorado Child Support

What the provisions of the Colorado child support statute, C.R.S. § 14-10-115, mean and how they are applied are matters of dispute, interpretation and subject to being ruled upon by the courts.  In Colorado, the courts are called upon to determine what the legislature intended by enacting the statute and how the various provisions of the statute are to be applied to any particular case.  The appellate courts – the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court – review the rulings of trial courts and issue decisions regarding the meaning of the statute and whether the trial court properly applied it to the facts of the case.  The decisions of the appellate courts provide direction to the trial courts on how to interpret and give effect to the statute.  The appellate court decisions are generally referred to as the Common Law, or judge-made law.  Lawyers and trial court judges look to the appellate court decisions for guidance on how to interpret the statute when computing child support.

Not all of the child support calculation questions that arise have answers that are carved in stone. Sometimes, even if there appears to be an answer, it is subject to being disputed, qualified or occasionally ignored.  Trial court judges and magistrates are given considerable discretion in their interpretation of the facts in any particular case.  What the facts are, is something that must be proven by the litigants.  The trial court, once it hears and believes the facts, is required to apply those facts to the law:  the child support statute as enacted by the legislature and interpreted by the appellate courts.  Occasionally, the Colorado legislature disagrees with what the courts have ruled or how the courts have been interpreting the statute and will make changes to the statute that override the court’s ruling or clarify and further define their intent regarding the meaning of the statute.

If all of this sounds a bit fuzzy and like a moving target, rest assured that it is!


The information provided above is general in nature, is not intended as legal advice for your particular situation and should not be relied upon without first consulting with legal counsel.  Martin Law Firm provides legal representation in child support matters in the Denver Colorado metro area and will tailor its services to your particular needs and unique circumstances.

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