Child Support Modification
Like many other orders in Colorado family law cases, child support obligations are subject to change as the circumstances of the parties evolve. However, there is much more to the child support modification issue than this basic concept reveals. As with other issues related to minor children, the laws affect the interests of both parents as payors or recipients. Plus, changes to child support may impact the related areas of custody and visitation. These and other legal complexities make modifications extremely challenging, whether you are the one seeking the change or fighting it.
It is important in these situations to have an experienced attorney who knows the legal standards and how they apply to your case. Our child support lawyers at Pomper Price, LLC in Denver have in-depth knowledge of the laws and court procedures governing modifications to child support, so we understand the requirements.
With decades of experience representing parents in connection with the process, we are prepared to take on the challenges. Please contact our office to set up a consultation with a child support modification attorney today. You might also find it useful to review some general information about the laws.
Synopsis of Colorado Law on Modifying Child Support
Child support obligations often arise in connection with divorce proceedings, but an order could also be issued in a paternity case or via the administrative process. Regardless of its origins, once a judge enters an order for child support, it remains in full force and effect unless replaced by another valid order. It acts as a type of private “law,” and there can be serious consequences for such violations as nonpayment.
Scenarios for Child Support Modification: Despite the strict nature of child support obligations, they are subject to change. Colorado law provides for two situations in which child support may be modified by the parties:
1. Major Life Changes: To modify child support, you have to show the court that there has been a “substantial” and “continuing” change of circumstances. Specifically, it must be one that would either increase or decrease the current child support order by 10 percent or more AND the new situation must be more than just temporary.
Note that this percentage applies to the support owed – not the payor or recipient parent’s income. A 10 percent increase or decrease in income would likely not trigger a child support modification according to state guidelines. Still, the parties are required to exchange financial information on an annual basis, so each parent knows the other’s situation.
Oftentimes, the changed circumstance can be:
- The loss of a job
- A change in income
- A change in expenses
- The removal/addition of a child onto the current child support order
While it may seem straightforward (and sometimes it is), that is not always the case. What if your ex is requesting a modification that lowers the child support so significantly that you can’t afford to support your children? What if your ex is requesting a large increase in support that you cannot afford?
2. Modification for Medical Reasons: A current child support order may also be modified if it does not include provisions regarding medical care, health insurance, and extraordinary or unreimbursed medical expenses. There is a relatively low bar for meeting this standard, considering the importance of the child’s health and well-being.
Options for Modifying Child Support in Colorado
While the legal criteria for changing child support are strict, there are multiple options for modifications. Our child support attorneys at Pomper Price, LLC can explain the following in more detail:
Agreement to Adjust Child Support: Parents are allowed to make agreements regarding a modification to child support obligations, and are actually encouraged to do so whenever possible. However, as with any matter involving minor children, any changes are subject to scrutiny by the court. A judge will review the agreement to ensure that it complies with:
- Statutory child support guidelines, which encompass the combined income of the parents, certain expenses, the number of children being supported, and other factors
- Colorado’s standard on the best interests of the child, which focuses on the child’s needs, standard of living, and related matters
Contested Hearings on Child Support Modifications: If co-parents cannot agree on an increase or decrease to child support, the one seeking the change must file a petition in court. Both parties will have the opportunity to present their respective positions at a contested hearing, including witness testimony, documents, and other evidence.
The judge will assess the parties’ arguments and evidence in the context of the child’s best interests and Colorado’s child support guidelines. After granting or denying the child support modification, the court will enter the appropriate order.
Termination of Child Support by Operation of Law: While not a modification in the strictest sense, there are situations where child support will change by law. When a child turns 19 years old, he or she attains status as an adult, and parents are no longer obligated for support. Child support may also terminate when the child emancipates through marriage, joining the military, or related scenarios that demonstrate he or she is self-sufficient.
Retroactive Child Support Modifications: The default rule is that a motion to modify child support takes effect upon the date filed, so a recipient is not entitled to amounts due before the change. However, in some cases, it is possible to obtain retroactive payments when the underlying circumstances involve a change in physical custody.
When parents switch up the amount of time the child spends with either of them, one might be taking on additional financial responsibilities. He or she may be entitled to reimbursement through a retroactive child support modification.
Why Legal Representation is Critical
You can see from the above descriptions of the law and legal process that child support modifications are complicated. Instead of putting your rights as a parent at risk, trust our team at Pomper Price, LLC to advocate on your behalf. Our legal services in connection with modifications to child support include:
- Assessing your circumstances and objectives
- Developing a strategy to seek or defend a child support modification
- Assisting with creating and negotiating an agreement to modify child support
- Filing a petition to increase or decrease child support obligations OR responding to a petition filed by your child’s other parent
- Representing you in court at a contested hearing on child support modifications
Consult with a Colorado Child Support Modification Lawyer Today
While a summary of the laws may be helpful, it should also demonstrate the importance of retaining experienced legal counsel to represent you in connection with child support modification. To discuss your individual situation with an attorney at Pomper Price, LLC, please call 720-780-8288 or use our contact form to schedule a free, one-hour consultation today.
Our team can better advise you after reviewing your unique circumstances. We can meet with you at our main office serving the greater Denver area, but we maintain satellite offices from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs. Our child support modification attorneys can also make arrangements to conduct virtual appointments to suit your needs.