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When can child support be modified?

In the state of Colorado, a judge must approve of a change to a child support order. The modification has to be requested from the same court that issued the original order. The law is in favor of keeping child support orders stable, so there needs to be a compelling reason to have the order changed.

The most common reason for a modification of a child support order is a change in circumstance for one parent. Orders can be changed on either a temporary or a permanent basis. For example, if one parent has a medical emergency and is temporarily out of work, that may be cause for a temporary modification. In the event that a parent experiences a long-lasting change, such as increased income through marriage or reduced income from a professional setback or a disability, a judge may grant a permanent modification.

The modification process is similar to the original divorce proceedings. Even if both parties agree to the new terms, they will still need to go through the proper legal channels to have the order changed. In the event that both parties cannot come to an agreement, each person will be given a chance to make his or her argument before the judge.

There is an exception to the rule that a judge must agree to a modification of a child support order. Some child support orders include a Cost of Living Adjustment Clause. According to a COLA clause, a parent's child support payment will change annually to reflect increases or decreases in the annual cost of living. The amount is usually determined using an economic indicator such as the Consumer Price Index. Individuals who have COLA clauses in their child support orders do not need to make a court appearance in order to have their orders adjusted for changes to the cost of living. The information in this article should not be interpreted as legal advice. Individuals may want to consult with a divorce lawyer for specific legal guidance.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Support Modification", FindLaw, August 13, 2014

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