Child Support Modification 101

An initial child support order may not last forever. Incomes and expenses often change over the years, as do the needs of children. Once ordered, child support continues at the set rate unless another support order is entered. Financial changes do not result in an automatic support adjustment. It is necessary to request an adjustment through the court by submitting a motion to modify a support order. Alternatively the parties can agree to modify the initial order and request that a court issue the agreement as a modified order.

Termination of Child Support Orders

Child support and add-on obligations, such as health insurance and work-related childcare, generally end automatically in Colorado when a child turns 19. There are some exceptions:

  • The parents agree in writing

  • The child is mentally or physically disabled

  • The child is still in high school

  • The child is married

  • The child joins the military

Legal Standard to Modify Child Support

Child support in Colorado may be modified if there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstances. Substantial is considered to be a 10% change in the child support award (not the income of the parents). Continuing means that the change is not just temporary such as a temporary job loss that is not expected to continue for a lengthy period of time. For the military population, a long-term deployment may constitute a continuing change as that may result in an increase or a decrease in the military member’s income. The modified amount accrues as of the date of filing a Motion for Modification. One exception to this rule is that when parties agree to modify parenting time, the support modification can be awarded back to the date that the parenting time changed.

Annual Exchange of Financial Information

Colorado law requires the exchange of financial information “once a year or less often” to aid parents in determining whether a modification is necessary. If a party has not had a substantial change, then he is not obligated to provide annual information. A court can order a party to provide financial information to the other on motion with some exceptions:

  • When a parent has failed to exercise parenting time
  • When a parent is in child support arrears
  • When there is documented evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or a protection order violation

Deviations in Child Support

Parents can agree to deviate from the child support guidelines, however support is the right of the child and a court must review and approve the deviation prior to issuing an order. Upward deviations are far more common than downward deviations, and many courts will not approve a downward deviation out of concern that a child will not be supported adequately.

Colorado allows deviations for the following reasons

  • One of the parents spends substantially more time with the child than is reflected by a straight calculation of overnights

  • Extraordinary medical expenses incurred for treatment of either parent or a current spouse

  • Extraordinary costs associated with parenting time

  • Gross disparity in income between parents

  • Ownership by a parent of a substantial non-income producing asset

  • Consistent overtime not included in gross income

  • Part-time income in addition to full-time employment

Are you looking for a Child Support Lawyer in the metropolitan Denver area? At WS Law, we understand how to assist families in obtaining child support modifications. If you have a legal issue you need help with, the attorneys at Whitcomb, Selinsky Law PC would love to share their expertise with you. Please call (303) 543-1958.



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