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Child support a major factor in divorce financial decisions

During a divorce, both parties are faced with the task of separating their financial lives. When a child is involved, parents typically try to disturb the child's lifestyle as little as possible. This can be difficult financially, because funds that once supported a single household must now go toward two. Colorado family courts are filled with battling parents attempting to minimize their financial responsibilities related to child support. Good results can come from thoughtful negotiation regarding child support, helping ensure the best circumstances for all parties involved, especially the children.

Colorado has guidelines for judges to determine a starting point for the amount of child support a noncustodial parent must pay. However, the amount determined by the judge can vary greatly from this baseline. Variations can be based on a number of factors that include school, medical needs, travel costs, or the cost of housing. To avoid having a judge set the amount, negotiations based on the cost of raising any children from the marriage can help determine realistic payment amounts both parties are comfortable with.

According to a personal financial specialist, the best way to determine the costs of child rearing is to look at the last 12 months of spending related to the child. The expenses should be separated into categories, with shared family costs such as groceries applied according to the percentage of the total cost that went directly toward the child.

Once expenses are calculated, parents can make a realistic budget of the costs and determine if there is enough income after creating two households to keep up the child's present standard of living. With a budget in place, negotiating the split of the costs is made easier.

Negotiating child support is often preferable to having the matter settled in court. The amount decided upon by the judge is highly subjective and might not take into account all the child's expenses. However, through an ongoing negotiation process, the best interests of the child can be paramount without driving either parent into poverty.

Source: Fox Business, "Managing Finances Through a Divorce," Andrea Murad, Sept. 28, 2012

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