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  • Paige Mackey Murray

Child Support When Income Exceeds Uppermost Level of Support Schedule

The Colorado Supreme Court recently decided In re Marriage of Boettcher & Boettcher, 2019 CO 81, which clarified the analysis required of the trial court in determining child support when a husband and wife’s combined incomes exceed the uppermost level of the child support schedule. The court held that a trial court has discretion to determine child support and does not need to conduct a deviation analysis.

“Section 14-10-115(7)(a)(II)(E) expressly provides that the district court has discretion to determine the appropriate child support amount when the parties’ combined adjusted gross income exceeds the uppermost level of the schedule, ‘except that the presumptive basic child support obligation shall not be less than it would be based on the highest level of adjusted gross income set forth in the schedule of basic child support obligations.’ This language is clear that, while an award lower than that provided in the schedule would be a deviation from the presumptive award and would require findings as provided in section 14-10-115(8)(e), a higher amount may be awarded within the district court’s discretion."

The court in Boettcher specifically disapproved of a previous decision In re Marriage of Upson, 991 P.2d 341, 345 (Colo. App. 1999), which required the court to make deviation findings when awarding child support above the uppermost level of the child support schedule. The court also disapproved of the extrapolation method, upholding Colorado Court of Appeals decisions that had previously disapproved of this method. See In re Marriage of Ludwig, 122 P.3d 1056 (Colo. App. 2005) (holding that mechanical extrapolation was inappropriate because the court made no findings establishing the children’s specific needs); In re Marriage of Van Inwegen, 757 P.2d 1118 (Colo.App.1988)(concluding that it was not the General Assembly’s intent to permit automatic extrapolation from the guideline schedule when combined gross incomes exceed the uppermost level of the schedule).

You can read the Boettcher opinion here.

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