Ways to Calculate Overnights for Child Support in Colorado

There are several ways to calculate overnights for child support in Colorado. Child support amounts in Colorado are calculated based on a set of guidelines set by the Colorado state legislature.

One key factor in figuring child support amounts is the overnight totals, or how many nights the children spend with each parent. In any Colorado divorce or custody proceeding, the family court will set child support payments to ensure the children’s financial security.

Ways of Counting Overnights

In Colorado divorce and custody cases, there are three ways to count up the visitation overnights. Regardless of the method used to count up overnights for Colorado parents, it’s critical for divorcing parents to use the most accurate number for child support calculations. Otherwise, the child support payments may be too high or to low.

Estimate overnights: Estimating overnights simply means that parents make their best guess about how many overnights the non-residential parent has. The biggest problem with estimating is that it is far from accurate and doesn’t take into account any exceptions such as holidays.

Count by hand: Parents can count up the number of overnights using a paper calendar and a calculator. If there is already a custody calendar created, the parent can just add up the marked days and get an overnight total. Accuracy may suffer because parents often forget to include exceptions to the standard weekly schedule, such as holidays, vacation days and other events.

Custody calendar software: Custody software allows divorcing parents to create a custody schedule on the computer, then calculate how many overnights each parent has. These programs can even figure up individual hours per parent, making the total parenting time total significantly different than just counting up overnights on a calendar. If the schedule changes, even by a few days, the program automatically recalculates totals.

Colorado Parenting Time

While each state sets its own parenting time requirements, Colorado looks at sole or joint physical custody and the hours that the non-residential parent spends with the children. Sole physical custody means that one parent hosts the children for the majority of the year, and the non-residential parent spends 93 or fewer overnights with the children.

For joint physical custody in Colorado, the non-residential parent spends anywhere from 94 to 182 overnights with the children. A child support credit is given to the non-residential parent depending on the number of overnights scheduled.

Counting Up Overnights

To get the total number of overnights for each parent per year, Colorado divorcing parents must physically add up the overnights from the custody schedule. While there is no single right way to do this, certain methods are easier and more accurate than others.

All the overnights must be added together, including weekdays, weekends, holidays, vacations and other special events. To get a percentage, Colorado parents can take the total overnights, then divide that number by 365. The answer represents the parenting time percentage for the year. For example, if the non-residential parent hosts the children for 110 overnights, this would be 30 percent of the time annually.