Can You Modify Child Support Payments?
When child support agreements are made in Colorado, there is a legal obligation to abide by their terms.
Whether your child support agreement was made between you and your spouse and approved by the courts, or decided by court order, failure to abide by the terms can result in enforcement measures being taken against the payor.
However, child support amounts are not fixed permanently. The Colorado family law system recognizes that people’s circumstances can change and those changes can result in a change to previous child support calculations.
If there is a compelling reason to modify child support, you can go back to the court and demonstrate why a modification is justified.
When is child support modification necessary?
With life being life, many different situations can occur that warrant a change in child support.
Most commonly in Colorado, we see the following reasons given by clients for modifications to be made:
- A substantial change in income
- Change in childcare costs
- Change in health insurance costs for the child
- Exceptional medical or dental needs of the child
- Special educational needs of the child
- A change in parental overnights
- A child reaching the age of emancipation (19 in Colorado)
Child support modifications are made when either parent can demonstrate a decrease or increase of the previous child support award by at least 10 percent (based on any number of changes to the above).
The courts will require adequate proof to approve a change. Fabricating changes to avoid or increase payments will be viewed extremely harshly by the courts and should never be considered by parents, so proof as to the changes that have occurred is paramount.
If one parent chooses to make an investment and can no longer afford to make support payments, for instance, this will not be a justifiable reason for a modification as the decision was within the parent’s control and does not impact a child support calculation.
How do you arrange a modification of child support in Colorado?
Child support orders are legally binding court orders. Changing them is no small matter.
Failing to follow a child support order may result in legal consequences – regardless of your opinion about the fairness of the agreement or how dire your present circumstances are.
If you unilaterally stop paying or reduce payments without applying to the court for a modification, you can face wage garnishment measures, high interest rates, or other measures to compensate the recipient. You could even be found guilty of contempt of court.
So, it is essential to follow the correct legal processes to arrange a modification of any child support order.
How to request a child support modification
For any child support modification, you will need evidence to back up your claim that a change is warranted.
Collect the appropriate financial documents. These documents need to show the court that your circumstances have substantially and continuingly changed. You may require the assistance of a child support lawyer to prepare the correct documentation.
You will then need to complete, sign, and submit a child support order modification request to the Child Support Enforcement Unit in your county, providing a reason for the request and the new amount you are requesting.
Your new calculation should follow the official calculator used in such cases in Colorado. The paperwork you submit should include a Child Support Worksheet that details how you arrived at your final calculation.
Calculations must be based on the best interests of the children involved and consider each party’s income, the amount of time each parent spends with the child(ren) and who pays the other expenses like insurance premiums.
You will also need to prepare a Sworn Financial Statement (or Income and Expense Affidavit), providing details about your debts, assets, and income.
Depending on the documents you submit and the judge’s decision, you may have to appear at a court hearing before a final decision is made on whether to grant the modification.
Need a modification to child support?
As you have seen, a modification of a child support order is possible in the right circumstances.
Even if you have modified your child support arrangement previously, you can still request a further change through the Colorado courts. However, this can be a confusing process without an experienced lawyer.
Speak with one of our child support attorneys at Colorado Legal Group during a free case evaluation. Call 720.594.7360.