What is Considered Income for Determining Child Support Obligations in Colorado

What constitutes income in determining a child support obligation? It may be more or less than you think. This article examines what Colorado considers as income in determining child support obligations.

Under Colorado law, the amount of child support that is determined in a child support action is typically tied to the income of the parties. The more income a party has, the greater is their share of support obligation. But what if one of the parties does not work? Is that party treated as having no income? The answer is; it depends.

Colorado measures one's gross income rather than net income, and treats the definition of income fairly liberally. Income does not have to be earned such as what you would get from working. Rather, income can come from any source such as interest on money in your account, bonuses, dividends, rents, capital gains, unemployment insurance benefits, workers' compensation benefits, disability insurance benefits, monetary gifts, lottery winnings, and alimony. This list is not exhaustive, but illustrative of the kinds of things that can constitute income even if the party is not working.

Further, when a party is unemployed or underemployed, the court can base child support upon that party’s potential income rather than their actual income. This is called imputed income, and is used when the court finds that the party is shirking their child support obligation by foregoing a higher paying job.

Past employment, education, physical and mental health, and efforts in looking for a better job, are just some of the factors the court can consider in determining whether to impute income on a party. There are some exceptions to imputation however.

A court will not impute income on a party who is caring for a child of the parties and who is under 30 months of age, or who is physically or mentally incapacitated, or who has been sentenced to at least one year of prison. As always, it is good to check with an attorney as to the application of the law to the facts of your case.

Jeff Alter, through his firm, Alter Family Law, focuses almost entirely on family law cases. He is committed to every one of his clients as well as his profession. He has been a member of the Bar since 1997. He belongs to the Colorado Bar Association (CBA), Arapahoe County Bar Association, and Denver Bar Association. Within the CBA, Jeff is a member of the Family Law Section and Litigation Section.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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