We live in an ever-changing world. People move more often than they used to. People change jobs and careers more often than ever before. Our children grow up quickly, and as they do their needs can change drastically.
Like anything else, child support must keep up with our ever-changing lives. While the amount of child support ordered by the Court to be paid from one parent to another may have been appropriate when the order was entered, as time goes by, child support may need to be modified for a myriad of reasons.
In Colorado, the modification of child support is governed by Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-122. Under this section child support may be modified upon a showing of changed circumstances that are substantial and continuing. It may also be modified on the ground that the current child support order does not contain a provision regarding medical support, such as insurance coverage, payment for medical insurance or deductibles and co-payments, or unreimbursed medical expenses. However, in most cases child support may be modified only as to installments accruing subsequent to the filing of a motion for modification with the Court.
Basically, if circumstances have significantly changed since the time the currently governing child support order was entered by the Court, and those changing circumstances are expected to continue, the Court may be willing to grant a modification.
What constitutes substantially changed circumstances? The short answer is that numerous things can qualify. For example, maybe one party or the other is now making a lot more money or a lot less money than they were at the time the order was entered. Maybe there are medical and/or health issues with the children that are ongoing. Maybe the party receiving the support has relocated to a new area in which there is a much lower cost of living.
For a Court to determine that a modification is justified under the law, it must apply the child support guidelines and schedule of basic child support obligations set forth in Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-115 to the circumstances of the parties at the time of the filing of a motion for modification of child support. If this application of the child support guidelines to the parties current circumstances results in more than a ten percent change in the amount of support due per month over the amount due in the order currently governing the parties, then the Court may deem that there has been a substantial and continual change of circumstances, and order a modification.
The filing of a motion to modify child support by either the payor or the payee triggers a requirement that some extensive financial disclosures be made by both parties. The Court then uses this financial information, along with any other relevant information regarding the circumstances of the parties and the children, to help it make its decision on whether or not to modify the amount of support.
It is important to remember that the amount of child support may end up increasing, decreasing, or simply staying the same when the Court rules on a motion to modify, so it is important that a party be as informed as possible as to their chances of success and what the likely outcome may be if a motion is filed. If one does choose to move forward with requesting the Court for modification of child support, having legal representation throughout the entire process can make all the difference. If you are considering the possibility of getting a child support order modified, please give us a call for a free consultation. We can listen to your individual circumstances, provide you with valuable legal advice, and help you to decide what decision is right for you.