Colorado Child Support & Overnight Calculations

Colorado child support is based on total overnights

Colorado uses overnights, or where the children sleep, as the basis for figuring custody timeshare percentages in its child support formula.

Besides income, overnight totals are a key part of the Colorado child support formula. Your overnights directly affect your child support, whether you pay or receive.

Most overnight totals are estimates (and thus incorrect)

Colorado attorneys and judges often rely on overnight estimates, even if they are incorrect, because counting overnights is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents often rely on these estimates as well.

Using estimates means your overnight totals are wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.

How to calculate overnights instead of relying on estimates

To calculate overnights, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to count each night for a whole year, which is error-prone when you include alternating holidays, summer break, and any changes to the schedule.

The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your total time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Parenting Time Now

Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total number of overnights. You will also see how your parenting time changes each year due to holidays and other events.

You can also track what actually happens, and show how many days you've actually received for any period of time. Historical information is a powerful tool when you request a child support modification or when you request more parenting time.

Fast facts on child custody and child support in Colorado

In any divorce, Colorado family courts award custody of the children to one or both parents. Custody is divided into legal custody and physical custody. A parenting time percentage is included in the child support formula for joint custody only.

Colorado sole physical custody: The children reside with and are supervised by the residential parent, while the other parent is entitled to overnight visitations. In Colorado, sole physical custody is given to the parent with whom the children spend the most time with. The non-residential parent will host 93 overnights or fewer.

Colorado joint physical custody: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody, which allows them frequent and continuing contact with their children. Parenting time for joint custody must allow between 94 and 182 overnights with the non-residential parent. A credit is given to the non-residential parent on child support depending on the number of overnights.

Colorado child support formula and parenting time percentages

The parenting time percentage only figures into joint physical custody cases. The sole custody formula doesn't allow for any parenting time credit toward child support.

Sole custody formula: Colorado family courts use a formula that factors in each parent's gross income, the percentage of time the children spend with each parent, and acceptable deductions such as income tax and mortgage interest, health insurance or child care costs. The non-residential parent generally pays child support to the residential parent.

Joint custody formula: Using the same child support formula, Colorado family courts assign a child support amount and determine one custodial parent and one non-custodial parent. When time is divided fairly evenly, the higher earner generally pays child support to the lower earner.

Examples of sole custody and Colorado child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert earns $4,000 per month, while Mary earns $2,400 per month. They have two children.

See how the child support amounts change in these examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert is the non-residential parent, and is scheduled to host the children for fewer than 93 overnights per year. He pays $766 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #2: Mary is the non-residential parent, and is scheduled to host the children for fewer than 93 overnights per year. She pays $459 in child support to Robert.
  • Scenario #3: Robert lost his job and collects disability, unemployment or earnings from a part time job that total $1,500 per month. He pays $371 in child support to Mary.
Examples of joint custody and Colorado child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert earns $4,000 per month, while Mary earns $2,400 per month. They have two children.

See how the child support amounts change in these examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert is scheduled to host the children for 93 overnights per year, the minimum to qualify him as a shared physical custody parent in Colorado. He pays $680 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #2: If Robert adds just two more weeks of overnights per year, from 93 overnights to 107 overnights, he pays $610 in child support per month to Mary
  • Scenario #3: If Robert adds four more weeks of overnights per year, to total 121 overnights, he pays $539 per month in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #4: If Robert and Mary agree to a 50/50 split, or 182 overnights, Robert pays $232 in monthly child support to Mary. This is because he is the higher earner.
  • Scenario #5: If Robert and Mary agree to a 50/50 split and both earned the same amount of money, there is no child support paid or received.

The child support amount reduces as you add more overnights with your children.

Other factors in the Colorado child support formula

Colorado's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for joint custody child support:

  • Overnights: Unlike some states, Colorado does not factor in daytime visitations into a child support formula—only overnights. The non-residential parent must host the children for 93 overnights or more to qualify for shared custody.
  • Eligible children: Qualifying children in Colorado must be under the age of 19 or still in high school. Disabled children who must remain with the residential parent may require child support past these limits.
  • Gross earnings: Adjusted earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. Colorado law requires the use of both parents' incomes from the equivalent of one full-time job to determine a child support amount.
  • Specific deductions: There are some deductions allowed by Colorado family courts that allow an adjustment of the gross income, including health insurance premiums for the children, support for other children and child care expenses.
How accurate child support helps your children

Paying accurate child support helps your children in several ways, primarily because it ensures their financial needs are met.

Here are some other reasons why accurate parenting time totals help you, the other parent and your children:

  • It provides a fair way to determine your child support amounts
  • It guarantees the child support amount reflects each parent's responsibilities
  • It allows for modifications if your actual time and scheduled time are different
  • It is compliant with Colorado law

Your financial obligations to your children don't end with divorce, so whether you are paying or receiving child support, you owe it to your children to pay or receive the proper amount.

Top 5 things to remember about Colorado child support and parenting time percentages

To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in Colorado, remember these 5 things:

  1. Child support in Colorado is awarded based on Colorado child support statute, C.R.S. §14-10-115. Its purpose is to ensure that child support orders are sufficient to meet the needs of the children, relevant to the parent's ability to pay.
  2. When a Colorado family court awards shared custody, the children must spend at least 93 overnights with the non-residential parent.
  3. A parenting time credit is only given in joint custody cases. This means the non-residential parent must host the children between 93 to 182 overnights to qualify.
  4. When parenting time is generally even in a 50/50 split, the higher earner pays child support to the lower earner to keep the children's standard of living balanced between households.
  5. Colorado parenting time percentages only count overnight visits. Child visitation during the day or into the evening does not affect total parenting time percentages.

Use the Custody X Change software to accurately calculate the total overnights for the Colorado child support formula.


The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your total time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Time

The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your total time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Parenting Time Now