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Tips for avoiding unfair child support obligations

According to recent data, nearly one-third of parents subject to child support obligations are behind in making those payments. Is this due to mere negligence?

A family law attorney that focuses on child custody and support issues knows that the answer may be more complex. Child support in Colorado is based on a formula that includes each parent’s income, as well each parent’s obligations under the parenting plan. Yet each parent may not have been working full-time at the time of the divorce. A court might impute income to an unemployed, self-employed or under-employed parent, anticipating a future income level. But if that expectation is not realized, a parent may find that he or she is in default of child support payments.

Although it may be possible to modify a child support order, the process can be extenuated and usually requires a divorced couple to go back to court. With the help of an attorney, a more proactive approach may help achieve a fair child support obligation the first time around.

For example, there are ways for a Colorado couple to approach divorce more collaboratively. If a couple thinks they can agree on such material issues as property division, spousal and/or child support without court involvement, one option that might be available early in the divorce process is Early Neutral Evaluation. Like mediation, a neutral third party gathers information about the case and hears input from both parties, usually with their attorneys presents. However, that’s where the comparison with mediation ends. Whereas a mediator attempts to help the parties reach a settlement, the evaluator presents an independent settlement recommendation. Although that recommendation is not binding, it may help a couple reach a resolution more quickly.

Of course, an evaluator’s recommendation is dependent upon certain information being supplied by the divorcing couple. Each spouse may need to submit a sworn financial statement.

Source: Coloradoan, “One-third of Colo. child support goes unpaid,” Julia C. Martinez, Jan. 3, 2015

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