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Married or Not, All Parents Owe Child Support

From daycare to pediatric visits to after-school snacks, it will cost an average $241,080 for a middle-class couple to raise a child born in 2012 for 18 years. Calculated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that figure is up almost 3 percent from 2011””and it doesn’t even include those costly four years of college.

Fortunately, single parents don’t need to bear this financial responsibility alone. Whether you were legally married or not, Colorado law ensures that a “fair share” of each parent’s income is given to the child. Child support is a common matter in divorce cases, of course, but many unwed mothers and fathers don’t realize their ex-partner may be entitled to””or may be obliged to pay””monetary assistance as well.

In order to seek child support, the first step is to establish paternity. This is traditionally filled out on the birth certificate when the child is born, but you could also submit a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” form or undergo a DNA test at a later date. Alternatively, the only way to dismiss child support responsibilities is by terminating your paternal rights; this often occurs when a step-parent is willing to take over and provide for the child. While paternity is a key concern in obtaining child support, it should be noted that a mother is just as responsible for contributing financially to a child’s upbringing and may be required to make monthly maintenance payments herself.

Likewise, unmarried same-sex parents are also obliged to share the cost of raising a child. They’ll have to file paperwork under the Uniform Parentage Act to claim parentage, but Colorado has recently made several advancements in giving non-biological same-sex parents more parental rights. In cases where a non-biological parent has not legally adopted the child or signed the birth certificate, it may also be possible to prove in loco parentis, which essentially means the individual has assumed a parental relationship for all practical purposes.

Once parentage is legally established, the court will plug a number of elements into a standard formula to determine a monthly child support plan. These factors include the number of children, the number of nights spent with each parent, daycare fees, health insurance costs, and each parent’s gross income. The particular needs of the child (“But Lulu can only eat organic carrots!”) are very rarely considered by the court. In fact, you can calculate your monthly payments through the Colorado Judicial Department’s website on your own at any time.

A standard of living adequate for a child’s development provided for by both parents is considered a fundamental human right under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is therefore a very serious responsibility. If you need help paying or receiving child support, please contact one of Divorce Matters’ knowledgeable lawyers soon.