In re the Marriage of Ryan E. Boettcher, Petitioner: and Christina L. Boettcher, Respondent
Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
Case No. 17CA262.
Attorneys for Petitioner: Eckelberry Law Firm, LLC John L.
Eckelberry Denver, Colorado.
Attorneys for Respondent: Aitken Law, LLC Sharlene J. Aitken
Goldstone, LLC Amanda M. Peek Greeley, Colorado.
Colorado's child support guidelines provide district
courts a framework for determining the amount of child
support they should award in dissolution of marriage
proceedings. One part of these guidelines is a schedule of
child support obligations that sets specific presumptive
payment amounts based on the number of children and the
parties' combined income. But that schedule does not
include an award amount for every conceivable family income
In this case, we must determine how a district court should
calculate child support obligations when the parties'
combined income exceeds the uppermost specified combined
monthly income of $30, 000. Because we conclude that the
plain language of the statute provides that the uppermost
award identified explicitly in the schedule is the minimum
presumptive award for families with higher incomes, we
determine that the district court may, within its discretion,
award more than that amount so long as the court supports its
order with findings made pursuant to section 14-10-115(2)(b),
C.R.S. (2019). Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the
court of appeals.
Facts and Procedural History
At the time of the dissolution of their marriage, Ryan E.
Boettcher ("father") and Christina L. Boettcher
("mother") agreed that neither party would pay
child support. Several years later, mother, citing a
substantial change in father's income, sought a
modification of the original decree so that she could receive
child support. The district court conducted an evidentiary
hearing to determine whether modification was appropriate. At
the hearing, the parties admitted evidence of their incomes
showing that mother earned $13, 343 per month and father
earned $92, 356 per month-a combined monthly income far
exceeding the highest combined income of $30, 000 per month
listed in the schedule contained in the statutory child
support guidelines. See § 14-10-115(7)(b).
Father requested that the district court impose a monthly
child support obligation of $1, 424.82, which would be the
presumptive award amount if the parties combined income were
$30, 000 per month. Father argued that the presumptive amount
of child support for that income level was also the
presumptive amount for any higher income level. If the court
ordered a higher payment, father argued, such payment would
constitute a deviation from the statutory presumptive amount
and would require specific findings under section
Mother disagreed. She contended that the district court
should extrapolate father's monthly child support
obligations from the uppermost level of the guidelines in
light of the parties' actual combined income. This
approach would result in a monthly support payment of $5,
The district court rejected both arguments. In doing so, it
observed that section 14-10-115(7)(a)(II)(E) provides that a
court "may use discretion" in setting child support
amounts where the parties' combined income is higher than
$30, 000, "except that the presumptive basic child
support obligation shall not be less than it would be"
if the combined income were $30, 000. That statutory
provision, the court explained, was inconsistent with both
father's and mother's respective positions because
both parties argued for an approach that denied the court the
discretion explicitly granted to it by the General Assembly.
The court proceeded to set a monthly child support award of
$3, 000. In doing so, the court examined the factors set
forth in section 14-10-115(2)(b) for determining the amount
of support and made the following findings: (1) the child had
no financial resources of his own; (2) the child was entitled
to benefit from his father's financial good fortune
following the dissolution of his parents' marriage; (3)
there was a disparity in the parties' abilities to
provide for shared activities and experiences with the child;
and (4) the mother's testimony-that she would spend child
support payments to improve the child's standard of
living and to save for his future college expenses-was
At the conclusion of the proceedings, the district court
awarded mother a portion of her attorney's fees under
section 14-10-119, C.R.S. (2019), which permits the district
court to apportion costs and fees equitably between parties
based on their relative ability to pay. Concluding that there
was a disparity between mother's and father's
resources and income, the court determined ...