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How to Modify a Child Support Arrangement

Attorneys at Law Timlin & Rye, P.C. Feb. 6, 2024

Life is ever-changing. When your circumstances shift significantly—whether due to a change in income, employment status, or the needs of your child—amending a child support order can become a necessary step toward maintaining fairness and ensuring the well-being of your family unit.  

Understanding When Child Support Can Be Modified 

In Colorado, child support can be modified when there's been what we call a "substantial and continuing" change in circumstances. This means that the change must be significant enough to result in at least a 10% difference in the amount of child support due. Some common factors that might lead you to file for a modification include a major change in income, reduced daycare costs, a new parenting schedule, the emancipation of the oldest child, or other mutually-agreed changes in physical custody. 

It's important to note that child support can only be changed going forward from the date that the motion to modify is filed with the court. So, it's crucial to act quickly if you believe a modification is warranted.  

Also, remember that while child support typically ends automatically when the last or only child turns 19, there are exceptions. For instance, if the child is still in high school or is physically or mentally disabled, support may continue. 

To request a review and potential change of a child support order, you need to submit a written request to the county child support office handling your case. This request should include an Income and Expense Affidavit and any supporting documents. Keep in mind that this review and modification process can take up to six months, so patience is key. 

Common Reasons Parents Seek Modifications 

As experienced family law attorneys, we've seen many situations where individuals seek modifications to child support orders. Here are some of the most typical reasons people come to us for help with this: 

  • Significant change in income: If either parent experiences a substantial increase or decrease in their income, it may warrant a modification in child support. 

  • Reduced daycare costs: If the child no longer needs daycare or the cost has significantly decreased, this might lead to a reduction in child support. 

  • New parenting schedule: Changes in the amount of time each parent spends with the child could impact the child support order. 

  • Emancipation of the oldest child: When the oldest child reaches the age of majority and becomes independent, it may lead to a reduction in child support. 

  • Undue hardship or substantial injustice: If the existing child support order is causing significant hardship or injustice, a court may consider a modification. 

  • Mutually-agreed change in physical custody: If both parents agree to a change in who has physical custody of the child, this could affect the child support order. 

  • Child is physically or mentally disabled: If a child has a disability that requires ongoing care, child support may continue past the age of 19. 

  • Child is still in high school: In Colorado, if a child turns 19 but is still in high school, child support may continue until they graduate. 

When Does the Modification Go Into Effect? 

A child support modification isn't immediate. After filing a motion for modification, the court must review the evidence and make a decision. The new order will only go into effect on the first day of the month following the date the motion was filed. We'll guide you through this timeline to ensure you understand when changes will occur. 

Will the Court Approve the Modification?  

While the specifics vary from case to case, as a rule of thumb, the court will approve a modification if it is in the best interest of the child. This means that if either parent can provide evidence that the current child support order is no longer suitable for the child's needs, the court may consider modifying it. 

Ultimately, the Colorado family law courts consider several factors when determining whether to modify a child support order. These include:  

  • changes in the custodial parent's income 

  • changes in the amount of time each parent spends with the child 

  • changes in the child's expenses, such as healthcare or education costs 

What if They Don't Approve It?  

If the court denies your modification request, you have the option to appeal their decision. Keep in mind that appealing a child support order can be a lengthy and expensive process, so it's important to consult with your experienced family law attorney before taking this step. Your attorney can help you evaluate the reasons for denial and determine if there are other options available. 

Exceptions to Child Support Termination 

In Colorado, child support typically ends when a child turns 19. However, there are exceptions. For example, if the child is still in high school or an equivalent program, support may continue until graduation. If the child has a disability that prevents them from supporting themselves, the court may order support to continue indefinitely. We can help you navigate these exceptions and ensure the best possible outcome for your child. 

Get the Legal Support You Need 

At Attorneys at Law Timlin & Rye, P.C., we're here to guide you through this process, providing professional, empathetic, and client-centered support every step of the way. If you're in Denver, Colorado, or in Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson, and Douglas counties, don't hesitate to reach out to us for assistance. 

Our compassionate attorneys stand ready to guide you through this complex legal process, offering personalized support to reflect your current situation. We strive to ease your burden during this challenging time, ensuring that the needs of both you and your child are met with the utmost care and consideration. 

For advice tailored to your specific circumstances, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Together, we can find the best solution for you and your family.