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Is parenting time related to child support?

In Colorado divorce proceedings, the matters of parental responsibilities and child support are decided. Although these issues are part of the settlement, they are not directly related to each other.

Both parenting time and child support arrangements are made after the decision of child custody. If one parent is awarded sole custody of the child, the noncustodial parent could seek a regular visitation schedule to spend time with the child. The noncustodial parent could bring up the issue during a negotiation conference for child support, during which the custodial parent may request to get financial help from the other parent to care for their child.

However, while the county office for child support can rule on child support issues, it does not have the power to determine the matter of parenting time. The office will tell the noncustodial parent to file a court case for this issue because this can only be decided in court.

Since parenting time and child support are two separate issues, one parent cannot punish the other for not upholding the settlement of one matter by ignoring the agreement of the other matter. For example, the noncustodial parent cannot withhold child support payments because the custodial parent does honor their parenting time arrangement. Vice versa, the custodial parent cannot refuse parenting time with the noncustodial parent because the child support payments stop.

In some cases, it could take several months for parenting time arrangements to be finalized, which may require a lot of patience. During the proceedings, noncustodial parents could enlist the help of lawyers in understanding all of their rights and building cases for spending time with their children.

Source: Colorado Department of Human Services, "Parenting Time vs. Child Support", October 28, 2014

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