Child Support Guideline - Colorado
JDF 1822 R1/11 INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING WORKSHEETS A AND B MANUALLY Page 1 of 11
COLORADO CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINE
Revised January 2011
The Child Support Guideline for Colorado was developed by the Colorado Child Support Commission and
enacted by the Colorado General Assem bly. As specified in the statute, the Guideline has three objectives:
1. To establish as state policy an adequate standard of support for children, subject to the ability of
parents to pay;
2. To make awards more equitable by ensuring more consistent treatment of persons in similar
3. To improve the efficiency of the court process by promoting settlements and giving courts and the
parties guidance in setting the levels of awa rd s.
The Guideline can be found in §14-10-115, Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.), and is consistent with other
provisions of that section which place a duty for child support upon either or both parents based on their
respective financial resources, the financial resources of the child, the needs of the custodial parent, the
physical and emotional condition of the child, and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the
marriage not been dissolved.
The Colorado Child Support Guideline is based on an Income Shares Model. This model provides an objective
basis for determining the average costs of children in households across a wide range of incomes. Because
household spending on behalf of children is intertwined with spending on behalf of adults for most expenditure
categories, it is difficult to determine the proportion allocated to children in individual cases, even with
exhaustive financial affidavits. However, a number of authoritative economic studies provide estimates of the
average amount of household expenditures on children in intact households. These studies have found that the
proportion of household spending devoted to children is systematically related to the level of household income
and to the number and ages of chil dren.
Based on this economic evidence, the Colorado Child Support Guideline calculates child support based on each
parent’s share of the amount estimated to have been spent on the child if the parents and child were living in an
If one parent has physical care for 273 or more overnights per year, the amount calculated for
that parent is presumed to be spent directly on the child. For the other parent, the calculated amount establishes
the level of child support. For cases with split or third party physical care, or extensive sharing of physical care,
each parent’s calculated share of child support is adjusted by the time spent with the child(ren).
II. USE OF THE GUIDELINE
The Colorado Child Support Guideline applies as a rebuttable presumption to all child support orders in
Colorado, except as discussed below. The Guideline must be used for temporary and permanent orders, and for
separations, dissolutions, and support decrees arising despite non-marriage of the parties. The Guideline must
be used by the Court as the basis for reviewing the adequacy of child support levels in non-contested cases as
well as contested hearings. The Court may exercise broad discretion in deviating from the Guideline in cases
where application would be inequitable to one of the parties or to the child. In cases where the award deviates
from the Guideline, however, the Court must provide written or oral findings of fact to substantiate the deviation.
When either the obligor’s monthly adjusted gross income, or the parents’s combined monthly adjusted gross
income, is less than $850.00, the Guideline provides for a minimum order of $50.00. If the parent with the lesser
For a detailed explanation of the Income Shares Model and the underlying economic evidence used as the basis for the Colorado Child Support Guideline, see Robert G.
Williams, Development of Guideline s for Child Support Orders (Nati onal Center for State Courts: Denver, September 1987)
Child Support Guideline - Colorado PDF
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