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Modifying Child Support Orders in Colorado

Families are forever changing. As families grow and age, so do the needs of family members. Some family circumstances necessitate a modification in child support payments. 

If you are considering a Colorado child support modification, read the following. Then, seek the guidance of an experienced Denver child support attorney.

When Can a Colorado Child Support Order be Modified?

There are two specific instances where the Colorado courts will consider modifying an existing child support order.

These are as follows:

  1. There is a “substantial and continuing” change in circumstances; or
  2. The current order does not contain a provision regarding medical support (insurance and unreimbursed medical expenses).

The Colorado statute states that a 10% change in the amount of support that would be owing is sufficient to justify modifying child support. C.R.S. 14-10-122(1)(b). However, the change must be “continuing.”

A short-term change does not qualify for a child support modification.

What Qualifies as a “Substantial and Continuing” Change in Circumstances?

Several reasons qualify as “substantial and continuing” changes in circumstances for child support modifications.

These include but are not limited to:

  • The parent who pays support lost their job and is unable to find similar employment after extensive efforts to do so;
  • The parent who pays support suffered a health crisis that affected their ability to earn income and/or their financial needs;
  • The income of the parent receiving support has significantly increased;
  • A child in the support order has emancipated;
  • A child in the support order has suffered a health crisis and requires additional medical treatment;
  • A child in the support order has newly identified special educational needs that are not being met by the original support order;
  • The spousal maintenance obligation ordered between the parties changed or ended;
  • There is a substantial and continuing change in the cost of work-related daycare for either parent; or
  • There is a substantial and continuing change in parenting time between the parents.

Simply because a parent qualifies for a child support modification does not mean they should pursue one. A slight increase in child support may not be worth the time and legal expense of a modification proceeding with the attendant financial disclosures and mediation requirements in advance of any hearing.  

People sometimes mistakenly believe that if a motion is filed the court might simply grant the requested change. That is not the case. However, a court may sometimes  deny the motion without requiring further action in the event the claims recited in the motion do not meet that basic threshold for a modification claim.  For example a claim for modification on the ground that a parent’s employment was terminated may be summarily denied on the ground that the change is not continuing if it is filled before any determination could be made whether replacement employment can be obtained. 

Can Parents Agree to a Modification of Child Support Orders in Colorado?

Parents can agree to a modification of child support orders in Colorado. They can do so by filing a stipulation with the court that initially ordered child support in their case. 

The court will review the stipulation to ensure it meets the child’s best interests and Colorado’s statutory rules. If so, the modification will be signed and ordered by the judge.

It is very important for parents who have reached such an agreement to take the step of formally filing it with the court. If that does not occur  the controlling order of the court is the one on file, and not the modified arrangement the parties may have agreed to implement.  

What is the Child Support Modification Process for Parents Who Disagree?

Some child support orders include a requirement that the parents periodically exchange tax returns, pay stubs or other income information so they can determine if child support should be adjusted.  There may or may not also be a mediation clause for parents wishing to change their orders.

If the existing orders do not include a requirement for exchanging financial information or if efforts to resolve the matter by agreement were not successful either parent may file a motion with the court to modify their existing child support. 

The motion is also supposed to include  a proposed child support worksheet with revised calculations to reflect the modification request. However, in many instances the party filing the motion may not have sufficient information about toe other parent’s current circumstances to prepare an accurate worksheet. 

Typically the court will require that the parties exchange relevant financial disclosures and often will require that they attend mediation if that has not already occurred. If those steps are unsuccessful the court may schedule a hearing to determine if a child support modification is necessary and at what amount.

Contact an Experienced Denver Child Support Attorney Today

All child support cases are unique. Before you begin a child support modification, speak with an experienced Denver child support attorney at Hogan Omidi, PC.

One of our skilled Denver family law attorneys will review your case to ensure you qualify for a modification and determine your new child support obligation. Hogan Omidi, PC, will then find the best method for resolving any modification disputes between you and the other parent.

You can trust Hogan Omidi, PC, to meet your child support modification and other family law needs. Schedule your consultation today at the firm that “wrote the book” on Colorado family law practice!